The Average Gamer

E3 2012: Hands-On with Lost Planet 3

The E3 demo of Lost Planet 3 is a fantastic blend of character development, suspenseful exploration and mech-based action. Also guns. Guns are cool too.

You play as Jim, an experienced mech operator who’s taken a mining contract on the frozen planet a long way from his wife and child. The scene opens with a poignant shot of Jim’s most recent message to them. “The harder I work, the more I earn the sooner I get to hold you both again,” the recording says as we pan over to Jim’s sleeping body. Jim wakes up fully dressed and walks out to the icy base.

The character moments between the contractors serving in the base are truly enjoyable. As Jim, I was first greeted with your overly-enthusiastic engineer, Gale. He’s all excited about how he’s upgraded Jim’s drilling rig with a high-speed entry/exit system. Jim is less than impressed, grumbling like an old man at thought of some upstart engineer modding “his” rig.

After a few more in-house tensions between other contractors at the base, I finally got to climb into my giant clomping drill mech. The feeling of power once you’re in the driver’s seat, lifting huge pistons and towering over everything? It’s amazing. It’s also a marked contrast to the moments when you’re forced out into the snowstorms with just your rifle. Standing there in freezing cold trying to stave off a pack of slavering dogs while clearing your mech of ice… nothing quite communicates the feeling of security like taking it away.

Your mech is your life. It keeps you warm in the icy weather, it’s your only way to earn a living and it’s even a handy weapon in a tight spot. No wonder Jim is so protective.

In keeping with the ultra-violent theme of this year’s E3, there were some pretty gruesome moments in the demo. Walking out to the mining site, I disturbed a giant enemy crab in their native habitats. Fighting it on foot was easy enough to dispatch – shoot the icy protective coating off its back then shoot the exposed shiny bits until it died. Fighting from the mech was horrific.

The tutorial cues instructed me to grab the crab’s claw with my left arm and raise it up, exposing the soft glowing joint. I was then to sever the joint with the drill controlled by my right trigger. Repeat for the right claw and I was now facing a giant armless crab who nonetheless insisted on headbutting my mech. So, the only option left to me was to raise my drill and plunge it again and again into the defenceless crab’s soft exposed back. Grim.

But… when you’re a lone miner in a frozen frontier, you do what needs to be done. Again, it wa a nice bit of character bonding in that you bring whatever you want to the encounter. Some may revel in the unchallenged destruction. I was sad.

On arriving at the mining point, I placed my mining device down and marvelled along with Jim as the ice melted away to reveal a giant metallic ship or station or something. Of course, there wouldn’t be much of a game if you just walked away from mysteries so Jim abandons his nice snug mech and wanders into the base. From here the demo became an exploration mystery – walking around the human corpses, trying to figure out what happened by pushing buttons and opening doors that you have no business touching and shooting at the knee-high skittering monsters that try to eat your face off.

Sounds perfect.

Lost Planet 3 will be out in early 2013 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.