Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Review (Xbox360)

Frosty fingers seize upon the controller. Hot chocolate is consumed. We must press on, for Wayne demands it. Yes folks, we’re well inside Lost Planet, along with over one million of you who’ve apparently downloaded the Xbox LIVE demo, or bought it.

The depth and clarity of the world around you is mature and astounding Attacks come in every form and from every direction

Atmospheric is the first word I'd use to describe Lost Planet. I'd quickly follow it up with beautifully rendered, rich in detail with many elements pleasing to the eye (explosions and billowing smoke clouds chief among them). If this was a person, it would be a cute one; beautifully presented and with all the right moves – although the coolest things they could do would be very occasional.

The learning curve is shallow, and that's in part due to a control layout you should be already familiar with if you've played just about any recent first (or third) person shooter. Having said that, it doesn't bog you down with a slew of alternate options. You can jump, duck, shoot a grappling hook (a very useful element), turn left or right 90 degrees, and obviously shoot or throw grenades. It's not a complicated game, but it doesn't need to be, because it's presented very well.

You should feel very afraid. Fear is all that will keep you alive in Lost Planet Can anyone say "Oh my lord; the detail"?

Cut scenes are placed just where they need to be and never seem to interrupt the flow of game play. Intro, play a mission, cut scene, mission again. Formulaic and effective! There’s an old saying – ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. We agree.

The action takes place on E.D.N. III, a twice colonised planet. Twice colonised, because the first time we (the humans) were driven off by the local inhabitants; aggressive insects called the Akrid. Returning with mecha designed to fight the insects (called Vital Suits, VS for short), most of the fighting takes place in the ruins of the first attempt at colonisation. There is a haunting, post-apocalyptic feeling to the settings that's very satisfying. Lovers of atmosphere will appreciate this aspect of the game and lap it up as we did. Laser Quest this ain’t!

Buildings sit askew, road signs are bent at odd angles, rusting cars wallow half buried in the snow. Your weapon selection is pretty basic; ranging from the battle rifle, the shotgun, rocket launcher, energy gun, sniper rifle and Gatling gun (all of which are reproduced in appropriately larger size when piloting a VS). Two weapons can be carried at any one time, along with one type of grenade. It should be noted that the larger VS mounted weapons can be carried by the player character, but your movement will be a bit sluggish (though one can still jump fairly well, oddly).

Heat (or the lack thereof) is important to the thrust of the story as well as the missions. Thermal Energy is to keep you warm and, if hit, to replenish your health bar. There are various ways to obtain this energy; the most common from fallen enemies. It's an interesting twist on the health meter system, and it works out well, forcing the game on ward and play to advance.

Sometimes, the last place you wanna' be is on the ground The movement effects in Lost Planet leave other games lagging well behind

In short, there's little bad to speak of in this game, aside from a so-so story line and some brief texture flicker (at the edge of draw distance, if looked at through the sniper rifle scope), but we can only recall seeing it once. Unless you have a direct aversion to sci-fi or shooters, it's well worth picking up at the moment. The Xbox 360 does not have a huge catalogue of 'must haves', but it looks to be increasing, and this is one of them.

Top Game Moment:
The first boss fight against Green Eye!