Lost Planet 2 is the oft-delayed sequel to Capcom's Xbox 360 launch title, Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions. The sequel goes from being a first-person shooter into more of a Monster Hunter-style game. Up to four players can work together to fight their way through swarms of enemies in order to defeat a giant boss creature in exchange for loot and prizes. You can read a bit about the single-player mode in our E3 preview or try the demo, which is now available on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. Just because the gameplay has gone toward a cooperative focus doesn't mean that it has forgotten that people enjoy blowing the crap out of giant monsters — and each other. We all get a hankering to show off our skills against our friends instead of giant monster bugs. An upcoming second demo will show off Lost Planet 2's competitive multiplayer mode, which is a bit different from the main game.
We got to try two different modes of play: Elimination and Data Post Battle. Elimination is a straightforward deathmatch, and players should feel right at home with it. Every player is thrown into one of the battle maps, and the goal is to reach the required number of kills before time runs out. Data Post Battle is a variation of capture the flag. There are various data posts scattered around the map, and a player has to activate one in order to capture it. Activating a data post takes time, so it isn't as simple as it sounds. Players are divided into two teams, and the winning team is the one that can capture all of the data posts first. Data posts are unique in that they also function as spawn points. The more spawn points you have, the quicker you can get back into action when you die. Likewise, this makes it dangerous to capture a data post. An enemy can spawn at a seemingly undefended point, making you a sitting duck if you try to take it alone. For the most part, it's what you've come to expect from capture the point variants, and it shouldn't be particularly difficult to grasp.
As in the original Lost Planet game, your battles in Lost Planet 2 are going to take place in large vertical environments. Every player has access to a grappling hook, which he can use to get around the large environments with ease. These grappling hooks are not Bionic Commando-style hooks so you can pull yourself up a wall or rappel off a cliff, but you can't swing around wildly while you use them. You can even hang on the walls for a few moments, although this is problematic if you're in the line of enemy fire. Learning to use your grappling hook is a big part of your success in Lost Planet 2. Trying to take enemies on head-first is a great way to die, as most of the weapons in multiplayer can kill in only a few hits. Instead, the key to victory is using your hook to flank an enemy and coming at them from behind or above. In many ways, the hook is your most valuable weapon. Use it well, and you can slaughter entire enemy squads without taking a single hit. Neglect it, and you'll be the one who is helpless as an enemy comes from nowhere to shoot you in the back.
One of the more interesting things about Lost Planet 2's deathmatch is how weapons are handled. Instead of simply finding weapons in the map, you'll customize your character's loadout before the battle begins. You pick your heavy, long-range, short-range and standard weapons. Standard weapons are machine guns, and you can choose from two different-looking guns that seem to function mostly identically. Short-range weapons are powerful but limited, like a shotgun or revolver, while long-range weapons, as you'd expect, let you fight from a distance and includes the plasma gun and rifle. Heavy weapons are about power above all else, and you can choose between a rocket launcher or hand cannon. There is a "Loadout" option during the Create Match options, but it is currently grayed out. Your loadout determines the weapons you'll pick up when you find that particular weapon type in the match. One player may find a shotgun while another person gets a revolver. This allows you a bit more control over what kind of weapons you're going to find and use.
Perhaps the most unique feature of Lost Planet 2's competitive multiplayer, however, are the Vital Suits (VS), which are powered armor that run on thermal energy. If you played Lost Planet or the previous Lost Planet 2 demo, then you're rather familiar with the Vital Suits. Once you're inside a Vital Suit, you're substantially stronger and faster than you could ever be on foot. The VS also have special abilities, including the power to hover in air or dash around the ground. Each suit is equipped with a variety of weapons. You can get powerful machine guns, missile launchers and pile bunkers to crush your enemies into pieces. You can even remove weapons from the VS and install new weapons, although you're vulnerable during this time period. The suits can easily turn the tide of a battle, as their power, armor and speed mean that they can tear apart an entire team. On the downside, they're large and obvious targets, and you can easily be scrapped by a few on-foot soldiers who are working together. VS weapons can also be wielded by on-foot soldiers, but at a drastic cost to speed and mobility, making them much less useful.
During our brief time with Lost Planet 2, it became apparent that competitive multiplayer wasn't its main focus. A number of the design mechanics and the game structure make it clear that blowing up Akrids, not humans, is the name of the game. Still, the multiplayer has some interesting things going for it. The arrival of a VS in multiplayer is seriously scary, and there are some incredible tense moments when your team is trying to take down a mecha-piloting foe before his backup can arrive. The focus on vertical movement offers a lot of potential for exciting combat on multiple levels. Gamers who are looking for a bit of competition to go with their cooperative action should keep their eyes peeled for Lost Planet 2.
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