Soul of the Ice: Lost Planet 3 preview

soul of the ice lost planet 3 preview 1

Coming out of E3 2012, it was Lost Planet 3 and not Resident Evil 6 or DmC that had people praising Capcom. Having gotten a chance to play that demo in a quieter, less rushed setting at an event in New York last week, I can say that Lost Planet 3’s reputation is well earned. It’s a beguiling game, and not for the reasons you might suspect. There’s a strong heart pumping beneath this game’s icy veneer.

The game’s quality and the E3 accolades heaped on it were surprising for a number of reasons. First, Lost Planet could hardly be called a franchise. It’s first two entries feel totally disconnected from one another and Lost Planet 3 doesn’t help make the series coherent. In fact, it feels all too familiar to other games and media not made by Capcom. The snow and ice are back, but the grimy tale of miners on a distant planet feels as distant from the first game’s campy militaristic sci-fi as it does to the soulless antics of Lost Planet 2.

The action in Lost Planet 3, at least in this sample slice of the game,  feels rote. Go here, shoot that, fight a giant crab boss. Know how you hurt the crab? Wait for him to rush you, dodge, and shoot his back. That’s the same boss pattern seen in Capcom games since the original Mega Man! Creepy crawly enemies straight out of Halo, the sort of abandoned outposts full of dead men that have typified every sci-fi horror recipe since Cameron’s Aliens and Carpenter’s The Thing (and H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness if you want to go farther.) Even the lumbering mechs in the game don’t feel too different other first-person games—Lost Planet 3 switches to that perspective in the mech—where you play as a lumbering heavy. The things you do in Lost Planet 3 are things you’ve done before.

soul of the ice lost planet 3 preview 2

Its lack of mechanical distinction doesn’t really matter though: Lost Planet 3, in this demo at least, has more heart in just half an hour of play than most games do over the course of 6 hours. Main character Jim’s message to his wife; a scene of him by himself in a shaking room drinking coffee that was recorded for a psychology analysis; a video message from his wife that plays over your first moments on E.D.N. II’s surface; these are all surprisingly quiet, human moments. I didn’t feel like these were characters in a game pushing me to the next drab mission objective. They felt like people. Andrew Szymanski, producer for the game at Spark, said that the game is being directed and written internally at the studio, but this game shows a patience and quality absent in Spark’s work like Legendary: The Box. It’s more than a little impressive. 

Capcom and Spark aren’t detailing who is providing the motion capture performance and voice work of lead character Jim, or any of the game’s characters for that matter. They want to save that announcement for later. That at least suggests that the studio and the publisher know that this game is worth promoting as a story and not just another shoot ‘em up.

I finished the demo, listening to every dialogue and watching every scene in full, wanting badly to keep playing even though the shooting was so plain. Spark is promising an open game that has you pursuing missions at your leisure from a hub world, a good set up to keep the game moving at a more ponderous, less action spectacle, pace. 

The original Lost Planet was born out of Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune’s infatuation with Halo. It was a competent shooter with an absolutely spectacular setting. Not much interesting happened on E.D.N. II—some people with mechs don’t like other people with mechs and bugs filled with orange juice don’t like anyone was what I got out of that game—but its crunching tundra covered in driving blizzards was a feast for the senses. Its multiplayer focused sequel dropped the snowfields in favor of jungle and desert settings that would have looked generic in 2005 let alone in 2010 when the game released. Lost Planet 2 also stripped away what little idiosyncratic charm the original’s third-person-shooting-meets-grapple-hook play had in the interests of chasing the almighty Call of Duty dollar, emphasizing player customization and growth. The games shared only the most superficial characteristics. Lost Planet 3 feels like its own beast too, but if it can maintain this affecting human element, if it can stay this restrained and personable, throughout then the Lost Planet franchise may have finally found its soul.


PlayStation Classic arrives this December with ‘Final Fantasy VII’ in tow

Sony has announced the PlayStation Classic, its own plug-and-play system pre-loaded with 20 games from the original PlayStation's library. These include Tekken 3 and Final Fantasy VII.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

BioLite’s HeadLamp gives off tons of light, weighs in at just 3 ounces

BioLite's innovative new Headlamp is perfect for hikers, runners, and campers. It delivers 330 lumens of light, while weighing less than 3 ounces, and comes with a headband that is breathable and comfortable to wear.

The Google Pixel 3 smartphone may arrive dressed in pink

Forget the Pixel 2: Google will announce its latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, on October 9 in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

Box-office buster: Spider-Man’ on PS4 tops ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ with big debut

Insomniac Games' new PlayStation 4 exclusive Spider-Man managed to set records for the fastest-selling exclusive on the system, and it even outperformed the recent Spider-Man: Homecoming film.

Find all Fortnite's puzzle pieces in our week 10 challenge guide

The Fortnite 'search for jigsaw puzzle pieces in basements' is one of the hardest challenges in the week 10 challenges this week. We go over how and where to find these puzzle pieces, and how to get all seven of them in total.
Product Review

The powerhouse Alienware 17 R5 will leave your desktop in the dust

With a 17-inch display and a chassis weighing in at nearly 10 pounds, the Alienware 17 R5 is truly massive. Between its weight and its hardware, it’s certainly outfitted like a gaming desktop so let’s find out if it performs like one.

These are the best Xbox One games out right now

More than four years into its lifespan, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.

‘Fortnite’ expert ‘Ninja’ is first pro gamer to land ESPN The Magazine cover story

ESPN The Magazine has revealed the cover for its next issue and it will feature none other than Fortnite pro Ninja. Tyler Blevins is the very first pro gamer to earn the honor. The issue will also feature stories on other esports topics.

Close Encounters is among Fortnite's most difficult events. Here's how to win

Fortnite Close Encounters is the latest limited time mode to join Battle Royale. This mode revolves around only having jetpacks and shotguns on the map, which can make things tricky. Here are some tips on how to win this mode.

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.

The gaming stream dries up in China as government cuts access to Twitch

Game livestreaming service Twitch has had both its website and its mobile app removed from access in China. Twitch said the move was made deliberately to block users from using the service.

Dive head first into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.

‘Hellboy’ reboot screenwriter could helm animated ‘Diablo’ series on Netflix

Hellboy reboot screenwriter and Boom! Studios founder Andy Cosby has revealed that he's in talks to write and act as showrunner for an animated Diablo series on Netflix. Little else is known about the project.