Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

AD41- Turnabout Karma

Addy was pumped up for kicking some butt when it was just Joy, but throw a Tarot into the mix and she can't hold back. There are few problems that can't be solved by throwing rocks at them and street performances are not one of those special problems. Although... telekinesis probably doesn't fit into the same category as mimes. But it just put down Pride, so our new friend totally deserves whatever boards to the face or rocks to the head that it gets.
Super Secret Fun Tip- It doesn't actually have three eyes. That's just a part of the mask.


Super long, Cue the awe-inspiring music Review: Lost Planet 2- I was a fan of Lost Planet 1 and although it was a highly flawed game, it was still a lot of fun. LP2 is, again, an extremely flawed game but it's still a lot of fun at times. If you go in expecting just another third-person shooter, you're going to be really disappointed. LP is more of an adventure game that happens to be a shooter. Think The Legend of Zelda if you gave Link a rocket launcher and a mech and took out the level puzzles. The problems set in when you pick up the controller and expect that somebody with sense designed the game. The controls are just too busy (and can't be customized). There are plenty of moves that could have been simplified and moves that should have just been removed. They waste two buttons for the "turn 90 degrees" function when the "heal teammates" move and the "blow things up with a grenade" move are assigned to the same button. You have to hold the Start button to heal yourself and it's just extremely awkward. You're typically trying to run to cover when you're low on health so you have to move, control the camera, and hold Start all at the same time. There's no reason that healing shouldn't have been automatic. There's lots of customization to play around with for your characters, but you have to unlock it first. Most of it comes not from completing objectives but by earning points in the campaign and then using the points in a slot machine. So while you want to get the shiny new weapons and abilities, you'll likely just unlock a new taunt or call sign. The game also doesn't explain what anything you unlock is. You'll get a message saying that you unlocked a new customization piece or a new weapon but it won't tell you which one. You have to comb through the menus piece by piece until you find the new one and even then the game doesn't tell you what's new about the item. What's the difference between Shotgun 1 and Shotgun 2 and Shotgun SP? It's not a quick and easy process to select one and test it out in battle so it's kind of tedious to mess around with all of them. The game also just flat-out doesn't tell you really important things like how to do some of the mechs' moves. The instructions give you a manual for each mech but the manuals don't tell you how to do all the moves. If there's one thing that I do like about this generation of consoles, it's that bosses have gotten big. And in LP2, the bosses are reeeaaally big. Taking one down gives you a fun sense of accomplishment and gratification and through the battle you've probably been swapping out different heavy weapons, lost a few suits of battle armor, and have jumped from VS to VS. It's chaos but in a really fun way. The last chapter has you essentially fighting an entire city and it's awesome. Unfortunately, the final final boss is very poorly done and what you're supposed to even do is confusing due to terrible game design. I went through steps to kill it four times but didn't know I had done it so I eventually had to break down and check a FAQ. If you walk up to the boss, you die instantly so I stayed the heck away from it from then on, but what you're supposed to do is walk right up to it but grapple the final step which really doesn't make sense and there's no indication that you have to do this. A problem with having giant bosses though is that the camera can't handle them. The bosses are taller than skyscrapers so it's all the more baffling when you have problems seeing them. If the camera spins around inside a boss, it makes the boss invisible. About half the boss fights take place in small arenas where you're either forced up against walls, there's a lot of junk cluttering the field for the camera to get stuck in, or you're right up next to what you're fighting, so you spend an absurd amount of time just trying to find the ginormous monster you're fighting and trying to reorient the camera. As the game goes on, there are fewer and fewer Akrid outside of the boss battles. Probably over half the game is just you against soldiers and VSs. Lost Planet isn't fun when it's human vs human, it's all about human vs human vs crazy giant space bug. Your AI partners are incompetent, but so incompetent that they're funny at times. They don't slow down for anything and will never pick up items that will help them. If you stop to pick up some ammo, they'll rush forward and get wiped out. They're weak offensively and defensively so they just get killed off over and over in some sections. This unfortunately does affect you by lowering your score and making times when you have to defend a specific point much more difficult, but most of the time they're fantastic cannon fodder. However, once you hit the midpoint of the Normal and above difficulties, the game gets exponentially harder because of their incompetence. One boss fight has you manning a giant cannon but it needs to be fueled, maintained, and loaded with ammunition during the fight so you have one person firing while the other three work on repairs, aiming, stocking ammo, and fighting off the smaller enemies crawling on-board, but the computer won't resupply the ammunition, aim, heal, or fight the small enemies. They'll pick it up ammo, walk around with it, place it outside the loading area, or even bring it to you while you're in the gunner's seat, but none of that does you any good. You have to load it yourself, fire a few shots, run back, load a few more shots, and repeat. The fight takes three times as long and is hundreds of times more annoying because of their stupidity. A second cannon mission sees them being just as useless. They won't repair damage, fight enemies boarding your ship, or fire big weapons. They can't even hit a ship the size of a warehouse when it's right next to them. It's amazing given how short the game is and that it's a sequel, just how bad some of the chapters are. Everything on a train and any time you have to operate a cannon, the game is frustrating and just gets boring. You have these giant creatures that can turn on a dime and you're stuck operating a cannon with the world's worst moving speed. On the harder difficulties, these stages are all but impossible with the AI. It's mandatory to have three human players but then you have to keep them from leaving the level, dropping out, and even on the Expert difficulties that you have to beat the game to unlock, you'll get teammates that don't know how to operate the cannon. The cannon levels are about half an hour long if you have a good team and if you fail the boss fight, you have to do the entire stage all over again. Once you change to the Hard or Extreme modes, the game loses any sense of reason. If you fail any of the later missions, you have to start back at the very beginning of the chapter. Enemies don't get any smarter or dangerous, they just start doing incredible damage so there's no point in having a health bar. Any Akrid can kill you in two hits on Hard and Expert. Even the generic fodder enemies can waste you with ease and if they touch you, you go flying off into the distance or are stunned until they decide to whack you again. Enemies also just take forever to kill in the higher difficulties. It takes five or six blasts from a shotgun at point blank range to kill a human soldier or a hundred or so regular bullets to the chest. Boss battles are an endurance test because of how weak you are. The same exact strategies work but a boss that took 10 minutes to kill before easily takes half an hour as you sloooowly whittle down its life. The stun mechanic also kicks into overdrive on the last difficulties as well. If an enemy so much as looks at you wrong, your character freezes up, shudders, or trips and you can't do anything of value in this animation. No healing, running away, throwing a grenade, jumping, or even firing back during this incredibly long stun animation. There are points in the game where if you get hit by a single bullet, you're done for because you'll never get out of the stun animation. Thankfully, the whole campaign is even more absurd than the first one so there's humor to get you through the crap. The game takes place on a different planet and yet one of the factions is a group of Latino guys and their mission is to steal a military vehicle and strip another one for parts. After the RE5 debacle, you'd have figured Capcom would scale back the blatant stereotypes. And just to make it even more insane, the planet is -120 degrees and none of them are wearing shirts! The ending is hilarious, awesome, and so full of jaw-dropping action movie cheese that you can't help but like it. I mean, a guy just picks up a missile four times bigger than he is and throws it. If the dramatic “We're going to war” speech before the finale doesn't inspire you or bring a tear to your eye, you are a heartless, heartless monster.
The online system is deplorable. Matches are slow to start (you're required to have more than 12 people to start a round in many events), the system just randomly fails to start matches, I've only once been able to play a faction match, either the lag is out of this world or there are a lot of people cheating (I emptied two clips into a guy and melee'd him three times and he didn't die), and even then the only modes people are playing are deathmatch and capture the flag. The game actively encourages grenade spam (and the AI happily takes part in it) so multiplayer just isn't all that fun. Having eight people on each team spawn with at least 3 grenades every life and that can easily restock with supplies on the field means that the explosions really never stop. You can build up kills just by randomly throwing grenades off into the distance and it's a totally viable “strategy”. For co-op mode, there's really no advantage to playing online outside of the two tank stages. If you use AI partners, you have three allies with unlimited lives but if you're online, you share a pool of lives and even if you never die but your partners do, you still lose. Plus, it introduces lag. Playing through an area I've been through half a dozen times, my team got picked off one by one because one of the enemy VSs was warping around the screen and could attack while it was teleporting. This one particular enemy teleports in every single online match I've played so there's no way that this wasn't caught in testing. The game is also lacking drop-in co-op, so if you want to join somebody's game, you have to sit there at the character select screen watching a timer tick up waiting for that person to finish the chapter so you can join the next one. Stages are as short as ten minutes or as long as over an hour on the higher difficulties, so if you want to play co-op, you're going to spend A LOT of time not playing the game. You're not even allowed to search for co-op games based on who is waiting for a group versus who is already playing. If you do a search for matches, it will return 14 matches that have already started and 1 person looking for partners if you're lucky, but it typically returns 15 matches that are already under way so you have to constantly refresh the page.
I don't normally mention trophies in reviews, but LP2 is one of the games that I'd actually be willing to put the time in to platinum, but it has one of the worst sets of trophies I've seen in a game. Everything from replaying stages dozens and dozens of times, grinding stats, constantly replaying the same stages, spending hours online, and finishing hundreds of tasks that you aren't aware of unless you have a guide. One of the trophies requires you to purposefully be a dick to other people and close matches when they're about to begin. Who on Earth thought that was a good idea? One of the trophies is for playing 300 chapters in campaign mode. The entire game only has about 25 chapters so you'd have to beat the game start to finish 12 times to unlock it. Why?
I love the Lost Planet franchise but Capcom has really driven it into the ground that they're not the company that should be in charge of it. I desperately want another company to step in, fix the controls, balance the game properly, and implement functional co-op. Until that happens, LP is in the trenches with all the other horribly designed crap Capcom has pumped out lately.
Sins Committed: Bad camera, Bad controls, Bad AI, False difficulty, Bad online features
Virtues Acted: Fun gameplay, Funny, Character customization, Seriously Youtube that speech in level 6-3 even if it makes no sense to you, it's awe-inspiring. Actually it's even funnier if you don't know what they're talking about. Any time somebody references your ancestors' “indomitable spirit and the strength of their resolve” without the slightest trace of irony, it's good times.