Previews

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

We've found it, it was hiding just behind that big moon, second left after Orion. Capcom's Keiji Inafune tells all...

You'd have to be pretty careless to lose an entire planet. However, the world in Capcom's third-person shooter isn't technically missing; it's just concealed under endless arctic tundra. You'd be forgiven for thinking that Xbox 360 had suffered the same fate in the Far East, where the console has received a horribly frosty reception. So it's a major boost that the famous Japanese developer has chosen to launch this important new franchise on the American console.

"The game represents a mix of Japanese and Western culture," exclaims Lost Planet producer Keiji Inafune (who's also the creative force behind Dead Rising). "In Japan we have a lot of mecha-type animated films and a lot of the robots in Lost Planet are designed with those in mind," says Inafune-san. "But on top of that we also have an FPS style of game that is more familiar in the West. So hopefully we'll have something that will appeal in all the territories." Which is a really intriguing prospect.

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In this early stage, Lost Planet is a mix of so many different influences it's hard to tell exactly if it will develop a character of its own. Inafune points to many movies and Anime that inspired the game's direction, including Aliens, The Thing, Starship Troopers, Appleseed and Vodoms.

One thing is certain; Lost Planet is intended to be an intensely cinematic experience. The main character, Wayne, is played by South Korean actor Lee Byung Hun. Although not very well known in the West, Hun has landed plenty of major roles in recent years including A Bittersweet Life, which was recently on general release in the UK. This follows on from the Capcom tradition of using famous actors in games. The Onimusha series in particular was renowned for including stars like Jean Reno.

Wayne is the victim of amnesia. All he can remember is that his father was killed in front of his very eyes by a race of subterranean creatures known as the Akrid. Seeking vengeance, he teams up with a less than reputable group of human survivors known as the Snow Pirates. While they aren't the most socially upstanding people, they are armed to the teeth and possess some particularly useful devices known as Vital Suits.

These mech-like exoskeletons are designed to survive harsh environments and are more importantly kitted out with some kick-ass weapons. When you first come up against the gigantic Akrid creatures, you'll realise why being on foot is a major disadvantage. One of the best things about Vital Suits is that you can get out of them and manually remove their heavy guns with a press of the B button. You can then either wield it as a handheld weapon or add it on to the next VS you come across.

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There are eight different VSs to choose from, ranging from the bulky but well armoured, to the more high-tech and manoeuvrable. Some are even equipped with jump jets for leaping over otherwise impassable obstacles. While many can be found under piles of snow that you shovel away by tapping the B button, others are harder to come by - often they're in the hands of enemy pilots. A great way to hijack enemy VSs is using Wayne's grappling hook. You simply target the hostile vehicle and slingshot yourself up on top of the cockpit. This is the perfect place to plant a detonator. Then all you have to do is jump off, blow up the pilot and take their mech for a stroll.

It is possible for the VSs to give you a false sense of security, though. They run on thermal energy which can only be topped up by eliminating the Akrid creatures. Leave it too long without killing any enemies and your vehicle will seize up, and you'll be back on foot before you know it. Another thing to consider is that the weather changes in real time. The colder it becomes, the faster you'll expend thermal energy. In addition, there will be times when a gigantic blizzard could impede your path while at other times it could be clear out. The conditions are constantly changing.

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