I would like to start off with saying I was not a fan of the first Lost Planet. In fact I only got through four missions of it before I stopped playing it. I want to state this so that the impact of the following review is much more solid.
Lost Planet 2 for me was a chance game. I took a chance on it. I downloaded and played the co-op online demo and thought it was worth the shot. Upon purchasing the game and playing through it I must say it is one of the best games I have played this year.
Changed from a single player outing to a co-op adventure, LP2 focuses on the group. You can still play it single player, playing it alone is still fun but getting together with 3 other people makes the game that much more fun (that's 3x the fun) and alleviates the stress of having AI back you up (any co-op AI is bad AI).
Combat and Movement
Combat in LP2 is tight and fast paced. There is never a dull moment. From fighting through jungles to floating around on a space station (yes near zero g in full effect) to even fighting a giant submarine underwater; the game never lets up on the action. The weapons are varied and many and you can custom loadout your character before starting a game from either a character customization screen in the main menu or even in a lobby waiting to get into the game itself. Everything from shotguns to flamethrowers and even a gunsword ( let's face it if you don't like the idea of being able to shoot someone and if they get close enough flip a blade out from said gun and wreck shop on them you should probably stop playing video games) are available to you to design your own destructive methods. Grenades are even varied to showcase such powers as a room clearing buster grenade, an energized giant shuriken and regeneration grenades to heal yourself and party members.
In an interesting turn Capcom decided to change the main enemies from the alien Akrid to a more human element in Snow Pirate factions. The Akrid do make appearances from times and especially as bosses (these bosses are towering behemoths, or INSANELY HUGE). However, for most of your missions you will be fighting other factions or NEVEC (the military bad guys from the first game).
One detracting factor is that Capcom didn't improve is the movement in LP2 from the first LP. Characters still lightly jog around the map and aiming still is a slow process. Aiming is also independent of movement as you can run and shoot backwards which is nice especially when being chased by a load of baddies. They did however add the roadie run made popular in the Gears of War series which helps traverse long paths, but just like Gears, while in the run, you can't do anything else. It may take a little time getting used to the slow movement, but after awhile you won't even notice it. The same can be said about the grappling hook which also makes a return from the first game.
Story and Graphics
Many reviews state that LP2's story is nonsensical. Granted that alone these parts make no sense but they all add up to the conclusion of the story. It isn't great storytelling or even good storytelling. It boils down overall to corrupt and evil military force wants to destroy the planet (E.D.N. 3) and harvest the valuable thermal energy which it stores. You as any number of different snow pirates you play as during the campaign (you can choose which faction you want to use after you beat the game for later playthroughs) want to stop your home from being destroyed. You can tell that the story was made to fit the backdrops upon which the action unfolds. Which is fine because it is definitely a game that doesn't need the awesome storyline of a Bio-Ware or Bethesda game to engage you.
The graphics are top-notch without a doubt. The characters are are sharp and crisp and the amount of detail in each article of clothing is impressive. I say this because after unlocking all the character customization parts you can create literally endless combinations of parts to create your own unique character. The enemies are distinctive and look like they fit in their environments. Jungle pirates look like they fit in the jungle wearing little clothing and when underwater fighting NEVEC soldiers they have scuba tanks and flippers to swim. The Akird bosses are amazing looking and that's saying a lot for the size of these creatures. They are smooth and detailed and I have experienced not one bad render or glitch while fighting them.
Extras and Achievements
The extras in LP2 are extensive and range from the useful to the why oh why is this in here. As I stated before you can unlock new weapons and customizable character parts plus you can unlock new abilities, emotes, and even Noms de Guerre (war names in French) to outfit your character with. The one bad thing....everything is unlocked via slot machine. By collecting credits in game (through boxes enemies drop or playing faction matches online) you get to turn the crank and see what pops out. Which is maddening when all you want is a sweet new weapon but instead you get the Funky Dance emote instead. This being said while the war names and emotes might seem useless it does add personality to otherwise bland characters making them more suited to your playing style. Maybe you like to get funky in the middle of a map and start dancing around or you want people to know you as Machine Gun Maniac or Human Spider. You can even have goofy names like Trying to Quit Smoking or Perv.
This is a Capcom game which means no easy achievements. On playing the game over 30 hours I myself have netted 405 gs. This isn't a game for a quick boost to the old gamerscore. One achievement is celebrate your six month anniversary of playing LP2 and another and others are 100-300 chapter playback and others that will require numerous amounts of playthroughs. It sounds daunting and it is but being able to have good, stable and fun four player co-op is rare and you will find yourself returning to LP2 again and again and wind up getting these long achievements eventually.
The online component of LP2 is not for everyone. If you are used to fast run and gun well I am sorry to say it isn't here. I would liken the speed to Gears online. On the brighter side, the maps are taken from in game and offer many different ways to maneuver and catch the opposing players off guard. Game modes for ranked play are Elimination (free-for-all), team elimination (team deathmatch), and data post grab (similar but not exactly capture the flag). There are more modes if you choose to do player matches like Fugitive (the most interesting new mode I have seen) which in a full room takes 3 players and makes them run and hide from all the other players. The other new mode is Akrid egg hunt which is another take on capture the flag. So far since it's initial release LP2 has already released two map packs with promises of more which is great online support (map packs are 400 msp).
With a total over haul from the first game Capcom has made a fantastic game worth checking out. If you are into co-op especially this game should be on your shelf if not in your system right now. Hopefully if they do LP3 they will increase movement speed and get rid of the slot machine and then they would have a perfect game on their hands.