Simple controls and excellent graphics turn out to be a fun combination in "Lost Planet: Extreme Condition," a new T-rated, $59.99 video game for the Xbox 360 where deciding what to blow up first will be your only tough decision.
The action is brisk and constant in a science-fiction setting featuring human colonists trying to establish a presence on an unforgiving ice world.
Things are going well until some locals on planet E.D.N. III — a swarm of hulking enemies that look like giant bugs — decide humans aren't welcome.
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In typical fashion, the stubborn Homo sapiens aren't so willing to give up, especially once they discover that the killer critters — called Akrid — contain an important new natural resource in the form of thermal energy.
If you can stomach the plot so far, you'll have no trouble ignoring what I found to be an extremely confusing story in the single-player mode.
There's a young man with amnesia named Wayne who tries to unravel the circumstances of his father's death. It gets fuzzy fast, but this isn't a game you'll enjoy because of its absent-minded hero.
Blowing stuff up, repeatedly, is the real thrill here.
Redundant? Yes. But "Lost Planet" manages to spice up the genre with some killer visuals, a roster of powerful weapons and a selection of mighty "Vital Suits" — large robotic battle mechs you can hop into for supreme command of the battlefield.
The high-definition graphics on the Xbox 360 have become commonplace, but games like "Lost Planet" still manage to impress.
What's particularly awesome in "Lost Planet" are the battle scenes against the many giant, screen-filling Akrid bosses you'll fight against at the end of each level.
These critters mean business and will take a lot of firepower to bring down. There isn't a whole lot of strategy involved — just target their glowingly obvious weak points — and any experienced console gamer will probably be able to zoom through this title in a few days of consistent play.
In this regard, "Lost Planet" is probably best played as a weekend rental from the local video store.
As with most action games on the Xbox 360, "Lost Planet" includes some endless replay value with various online multiplayer modes such as "Elimination" and "Post Grab."
It actually works really well. It's the sort of game that's perfect for fast-paced, frenzied online action, and I had a blast even though my real-life foes were able to make quick work of me.
What could have been an interesting gameplay element goes largely unused. During your rampages, you'll collect glowing blobs of thermal energy, called "T-Eng," which recharge your health bar.
But "T-Eng" drops in copious amounts and I never had to worry about running out, so there was no feeling of being rushed, which might have added a nice sense of urgency to the game.
It's worth noting that in two separate instances, the game locked up on me for no apparent reason and I had to restart my console to fix the problem.
Fortunately, both occurred after a save point so I wasn't starting all the way over.
If you're looking for a solid, simple action game for the Xbox 360, "Lost Planet" is a great choice. Just don't expect it to keep you interested for too long.
Two and a half stars out of four.