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Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: Feb. 26, 2008 (US), Feb. 29, 2008 (EU)

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PC Preview - 'Lost Planet: Extreme Condition'

by Andrew Hayward on April 23, 2007 @ 6:18 a.m. PDT

Lost Planet is a sci-fi FPS title with a strong MechAssault flavor. The main character is modeled after Korean actor Lee Byung Hun. Lost Planet has you battling huge aliens, bug-like creatures, mechs and other not-so-humans species in large city environments and cave dwellings.

Genre: Action/Shooter
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: June 2007

The announcement of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition for PC at Capcom Gamers Day was hardly a surprise. There had been rumblings of a PC port for some time, and Capcom has been porting its marquee console titles (Resident Evil 4, Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening) for the last couple of years. However, what is surprising is its quickly approaching release date. Unlike the year-plus gaps between the console and PC releases of those aforementioned titles, Lost Planet will hit Windows in June, just five months after its initial Xbox 360 release.

When it hit stores in early January, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition may not have been an insta-classic along the lines of Gears of War, but it was certainly a strong release, with its solid single-player campaign and fast-paced strategic online play. The impending PC release will not mess with that successful formula, instead focusing on refining the experience, especially from a visual standpoint.

Lost Planet looks to be the first PC title to make use of DirectX 10, complete with Shader 3.0 support. DirectX 9 users won't be left out of the party, but the combination of DirectX 10 and Windows Vista will unlock the greatest visual experience. Resolutions of 2560x1600 will be supported, though I shudder to think of the required specs necessary to push such a high-res display. As Lost Planet was already an excellent-looking game, the improvements made to the PC version are fairly minor in the grand scheme of things.

It's more obvious in the side-by-side screenshot comparisons than in the actual game, where the quick, constant action often prevents close visual analysis. But when you directly compare the two, everything looks just a bit sharper in the PC version, from the weapon effects to the textures and imprints in the snow. The average gamer likely will not be running the game in 2560x1600 with DirectX 10, so most players may actually see something more akin to the console release. But if you have the goods, get prepared for a nearly unrivaled visual experience.

Though its 11 missions are fairly lengthy, the single-player campaign can easily be completed in 10 hours or less. As Wayne Holden, an amnesiac with mysterious bionic arms, players must navigate the arctic terrain of E.D.N. III, a planet overrun by the hostile Akrid. The action takes place both on foot and in Vital Suits, which are mechanized devices outfitted with dual firearms that can be quickly swapped on the battlefield. While the pacing of the game can be a bit sluggish at times, the massive boss battles improve the overall experience and give players something to look forward to as they slowly trample through the cavernous terrain.

On the other hand, the nonstop chaos of the multiplayer game handily makes up for any perceived deficiencies found in the single-player gameplay. Though it is fast-paced and intense, Lost Planet does not meddle with simple kill-or-be-killed deathmatches. Elimination and Team Elimination are most similar to that traditional game type, but the addition of Vital Suits and an excellent points-based scoring system keeps things interesting. Post Grab and The Fugitive round out the online game types, with Post Grab really stealing the show. As teams battle it out for control over a handful of data posts, strategy and teamwork take hold, leading to lengthy, well-fought battles. In a full 16-player match, The Fugitive can be incredibly thrilling, as the 1-on-15 dynamic is unlike that of most other online games.

It will be interesting to see if the online gameplay is as well received on PC as it was on Xbox Live. While the gameplay will be unchanged, the PC market has many more options for online shooting action, though the addition of the Vital Suits should attract gamers disillusioned with standard run-and-gun shooters. Capcom will be overhauling the lobby system to make the game more appealing to PC gamers, and the producer working the playable demo at Gamers Day noted that additional multiplayer maps could be added before release. It was not specified whether these potentially new maps would be completely original or merely brought over from the downloadable map packs on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

The playable demo on display at Gamers Day was clearly an unfinished port of the original Xbox 360 demo released last May. All of the on-screen commands still displayed button commands from the Xbox 360 controller, but the demo offered a great opportunity to see the new visuals in action and get a feel for the control scheme.

On that note, perhaps leaving the console button commands in the game isn't such a bad idea. While the standard mouse/keyboard combination will certainly allow for a playable experience, I found the command layout to be very cramped and not nearly as intuitive as a gamepad. Any dual-analog USB controller will likely do the trick, but the official Xbox 360 controllers (which also work on PCs) should certainly deliver the most authentic control scheme.

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition has been one of the better action games of the year thus far, and all signs point to it being one of the best options for PC gamers when it hits stores in June. Such a quick turnaround from console to PC may be atypical for the Japanese company, but with Capcom eyeing a shift to a Western publishing portfolio, Lost Planet may be just the tip of the iceberg for computer gamers. Pray that Dead Rising is next on the horizon!


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