In many ways, Lost Planet 3 is starting to feel like a maturation of the series. The original game was an arcade-style shooter in which you killed bugs. In turn, the bugs dropped energy to extend your time in the level, and there was an emphasis on speed and firepower. In comparison, the third entry in the series feels like a much more cinematic experience, more akin to Dead Space in terms of pacing and feel. There's still a lot of shooting to be done and rigs to pilot, but it definitely feels like the gameplay is much more cohesive.
In Lost Planet 3, you play as a contractor who works on a snow-covered planet. As his family sits at home, he's in his utility rig, working away in the frozen wastes. Alien creatures also prowl the dangerous snowy plains and jagged deep canyons, and they've been known to attack the rigs and threaten the safety of the men inside. During a particular contract, a massive sudden snowstorm completely encases the rig in ice, and you have to bail out on foot.
That's when the aliens pounce.
Fighting on foot feels much as it did in the other games, with the use of basic movement and the dodge key to evade enemy attacks while you pour lead into the enemy, hoping to hit their glowing orange weak points. You can carry two primary weapons and a pistol, allowing you to use the proper weapon for the proper situation. Almost right from the start, one of the aliens lands on top of you, prompting a sort of Quick Time Event QTE where you must first mash the A button to struggle against the monster before pulling out a knife and aiming for the alien's weak point.
Later, as you descend into a large cave to place some mining equipment, a giant crablike alien breaks through the ice, prompting what is essentially a boss fight. You must dodge its charges — optionally shooting weak points on its arms to blow them off and limit its offensive ability — before finally shooting the ice off its back and the pulpy weak shell underneath. After the fight, you operate the mining equipment and find what looks to be a long-lost outpost deep beneath the ice.
In this outpost, the game took on a seriously Dead Space vibe, with shadows draped across every nook and cranny in the low-light environment as aliens banged around and pounced from atop boxes. The pacing is fairly quick, and the game isn't quite as terrifying as the comparison would imply, but it definitely feels like an experience and less like a level that you must rush through to complete.
Once out of the outpost, you get back to the surface and ascend to your construction rig as a swarm of additional aliens busts up from the surface and heads in your direction. The rig only has a grabbing arm and a drill arm, so you can swipe the drill arm as a basic attack, but your highest damage comes from using the two arms together. Grabbing a smaller alien with the claw allows you to smash it, spraying its orange blood all over the canopy glass. Fighting off the large crab aliens is a matter of being able to stand your ground. You can block attacks with your two arms, but if you block at the right moment, you actually counter and, for a brief moment, can grab one of its claws. Then you must use the left stick to position the arm while you line up the drill to take off its other arm. Finally, once both arms have been removed, you pin down the alien and drill into its husk in a terrifically brutal display.
Details were sparse about additional customization options for your rig, and there was no word on any multiplayer functionality other than its implied existence. With the game coming out in 2013, there is a lot of time left to wrangle up the details. As for what was played at E3 2012, Lost Planet 3 is shaping up to be a culmination of the ideas from the previous entries in the series as well as a proper new experience in its own right.
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