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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Lost Planet 3.

TranscriptEdit

Lost Planet? Lost Concept, more like! It's an odd duck, this series; it's the poor little franchise nobody wants to play with. Started out with a nice little idea about fighting giant insects in robot suits on an ice planet, but didn't raise much more than a non-committal "meh", possibly because of the annoying feature where your health constantly ticked down like you're allergic to mediocrity. Then it saw how popular co-op shooters were and went "Hey, look at us! We can do that!" with Lost Planet 2, although I think Lost Planet 2 was only co-op so that afterwards you'd have someone you could turn to and ask "What the fuck was that all about? What did we achieve? Who were we in the first place? And why were we all wearing bath tap Halloween costumes?"

But you may now gratefully forget about Lost Planet 2 because Lost Planet 3 is a prequel and back to being a single-player action-adventure on an ice planet with more of a narrative focus. Perhaps this will be what gives this neglected reindeer of a franchise its shiny red nose! Well, technically it is, because the reindeer is now a heavy drinker!

The story is told through flashbacks by a frankly irresponsibly old man, crushed by the kind of rockfall that will definitely kill you, but is easygoing enough about it to let you jabber your entire life story to a granddaughter you have apparently never gotten around to introducing yourself to. The man, let's call him Jim ('cause that's his name), came to the presumably ironically-named planet E.D.N. III to work as a contractor in a base populated exclusively by people putting on absurdly overplayed comedy foreign accents of inexplicably wide variety. It's like Captain Planet and the Planeteers all got jaded in their thirties and moved to a different planet to go and be planeteers of.

And they've all been sent there by the NEVEC Corporation, who are evil because they are a corporation in a sci-fi game. They might as well have been called "There's Shit We're Not Telling You, Ltd.", formerly trading as "Hope You Haven't Watched Any Alien Films Lately, PLC". So yes, they're basically just Weyland Yutani but refreshingly up-front about things, 'cause everyone's fully aware that the planet's full of monsters and that the company could give two shits about their well-nibbled corpses. But they're all pretty philosophical about it, and, in a way, that's the problem.

Jim joins the company, fixes some shit and kills monsters, after which Mr. Gabbity Greybeard in the future skips the story on a bit, saying "Yeah, fixing shit and killing monsters pretty much became the routine at that point." and I was like "Well, I'm glad somebody else said it!" But then, having acknowledged that it's fucking boring, the game bold-facedly continues to be mostly about fixing shit and killing monsters. Monsters basically materialize every time you fix shit; it's like they're some kind of corporeal manifestation of the developers realizing that there's supposed to be actual gameplay at some point. And if the protagonist doesn't give a budgie's kneecaps for the risk of becoming lunch and reacts to it all with a pragmatic quip and weary sigh, then yay for him but it's not exactly flipping my ball-bag.

By the way, I think I've figured out why every character talks like they're from different wings of the "It's a Small World" ride: 'cause when they're chatting over your radio, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart otherwise. 'Cause most of them talk in that sarcastic, quippy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer style that makes you sound equal parts smug and high-functioning autistic.

Hey, do you remember back in one of my E3 videos, I made a very hilarious joke in which I pretended to mistake the Dead Space 3 trailer for a new Lost Planet? How strangely prophetic that very hilarious joke now seems! Dead Space moved into fighting giant monsters in the snow, and Lost Planet has moved into engineers fighting monsters in tight hallways. It's like the two franchises met each other half-way and started sloppily making out.

So Lost Planet 3 features lost of fast, melee-focused enemies bum-rushing a man who can just about waddle around like his trousers are 'round his ankles, but, lacking some equivalent of the Isaac Clarke trademark hissy-fit foot-stomp, all Jim can do is back up and shoot, like a heroin addict looking for a good parking space, and often gets lost amidst pylons of squawking failures of nature, at which point the engine starts chugging frogspawn martinis, 'cause no amount of fiddly analog stick repair minigames can fix dodgy optimization. The game also tries to get you to take cover from monsters with projectile attacks because I think it might be in cahoots: "Why not velcro your fat arse to this piece of wall? It's not like any monsters are going to try to rush you, or spawn in behind you or anything. Now hold still while I bandage your wounds with these strips of delicious bacon!"

"Hey, Lost Planet 3? Your combat's derivative and shite." "Well, I can't think of what I could possibly do about that!", replies Lost Planet 3, oblivious to the giant robot suit in the background, holding up its hand and bobbing in its chair like an eager schoolboy. Oh, but this is covered in the plot: NEVland ECtani won't let you put guns on your giant robots 'cause they're supposed to be for engineering rather than combat. Presumably this is also why, by default, it's armoured with cardboard and tin foil and can take one reasonably powerful titty twister before kicking you out, and can only bumble about the place with obnoxious slowness so that it doesn't shake up all the palettes of Coca Cola it has to carry around as part of its engineering work. It's a pretty good skive, that, isn't it though? "No, the game has to be boring and shit 'cause the plot says so, hands tied." If only Ride to Hell had thought of that: "Okay, Jake, we're just gonna start banging you over the head with this crowbar; say "when" as soon as everything makes sense!"

To be perfectly honest, I didn't play all the way through Lost Planet 3 'cause I had an Expo to get to, so maybe they do put a gold-plated crotch ballista on the giant robot after a while. But if it does, it takes way too long to get there. And there was something about the voice recording that was really scraping my taint: it's hard to explain; it's like the lines were recorded with the mic way too close to the actors' mouths, so every time they inhale it's like an affectionate dog is trying to suck my earwax out. Blimey, that's a small thing to have to try and get worked up about. But wait! If I was noticing something like that, then the rest of the game isn't being engaging enough to distract me from it! Phew! For a moment there I thought I was being petty!

I gave Lost Planet 2 shit, but, you know, at least it had a weird, grindy, bathroom-plumbing-costumery-based identity of its own. Lost Planet 1 could be charitably described as "doing its thing" as well; even the constantly-draining health at least marked it out in some way, like a spear made out of frozen bullshit. But Lost Planet 3 seems to have made every effort to throw off any actual unique identity the series had, in favour of stringing together a cardboard mantle sewn together from other people's castoffs. It's Dead Space without horror. It's Aliens without excitement. It's trying to fuck a sofa cushion without an appropriate level of determination.

AddendaEdit

  • Has the bollocks of a brass monkey: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Yeah, so we already had suits of armour that ensure that your health doesn't keep ticking down but we all felt that this was basically just showing off
  • Quick, lose it before another prequel finds it

ScreenshotsEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2

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