And here I thought I was in possession of the great video game equalizer; the skeleton key of connectivity and performance - a next gen console, or, my xbox 360 specifically. That's what I thought. But, then I had to go and feed the thing a copy of Lost Planet 2, and thus, felt like I was violently ripped away from my safe internet gaming paradise and plunged, kicking and screaming, back into the dark ages of PC gaming. An age where Rig mattered and men (well... gamers) lived and died by their ping, and how sharp they kept their connection speed. Felt like, because, for a game that is entirely built around the cooperative multiplayer experience, Lost Planet 2 sure does make said feature a real pain in the neck to access.
I nabbed the game in the same week it was released and not ONCE have I been able to splatter akrids and rival snow pirate clans alongside living, breathing cohorts. Instead, I get to hang out with dumb-as-nails computer controlled 'bots that have the same understanding of "strategy" that a Thanksgiving cranberry sauce has of "practical". Befuddled? Me too.
The game's co-op functionality is an enigma to me mainly because I haven't seen it work. If I haven't seen it work, that makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong. What that wrong thing is, I haven't the slightest. Supposedly, you should be able to start a session in the game's Campaign Mode, dictate the number of aforementioned drones to fill your team roster with, and, eventually, like, when you reach a checkpoint, provided someone has decided to join your game and is waiting patiently in your session lobby, Lost Planet 2 is supposed to axe one of your puppets and politely grant Mr. Patient Player access to your game world, and vise versa should you be looking for a game already in session. Patience. Something I tend to run low on (probably you, too now, after reading that long winded bitch of a sentence. Apologies) after having to wait 15 minutes in a campaign lobby, staring at a motionless image of your character, watching the session's playtime tick away.
Not to mention the error messages. I have spent more time reading negative prompts on why I can't run off and have fun killing giant monsters than I have actually killing giant monsters. In this, the console era of online gaming, where "immediacy" and "easy" are champion, Lost Planet 2's co-op campaign rekindles that hair-pulling sensation of slogging it out with a 28k connection and weeping over the performance a processor made out of rusty nails and string cheese yields. What bloody gives?! I'm getting angry just thinking about it!
But, please, don't get me wrong: Lost Planet 2 is gorgeous, the level designs are wildly entertaining, the boss monster encounters pack a very enthusiastic wallop and the akrid/ice pirate designs ooze cool (but maybe fall a little short on personality) despite all the venom I'm spitting. Capcom's new MT Framework does wonders for the environment, and there's nothing quite like lobbing a grenade at an enemy operating a behemoth of a VS (Vital Suit), taking careful aim and nailing said grenade with a short burst of automatic weapon fire. The resulting inferno is something to behold: plants, dirt and other debris are tossed about dramatically, while the mechanical terror is peppered with sparks and electrical discharge issues from joints and weapons.
Lost Planet 2 can be a bit unwieldy at times, what with a healthy dose of controls to learn (while on foot or in one of the variety of Vital Suits you frequently run into while on a mission), but the way it handles is very deliberate, for which big kudos are given. I like that the game knows what it is, and handles very specifically... its means and its end are very realized. You get a strong sense of exactness from input to feedback that you don't find a lot in games overloaded with features and content. Everything has a place and a reason here.
The game is a solid piece of fun, albeit a very specific piece, as in, it's not meant for everybody. And if it isn't meant for you, this is made clear within your avatar's first few kills. It is SO for me... I just want friends to play it with! Lost Planet 2 is very much a lonely, awkward 5th grader in need of social interaction, which, when paired with the right kind of crowd, beautiful things (I am certain) are possible.