I bought Lost Planet: Extreme Condition when it originally launched, as it was a showpiece for Xbox 360 at the time, but it wasn't that great of a game. For whatever reason, though, Extreme Condition garnered a cult following given that there was little competition at the time. While it was a pretty game with fantastic snow effects, its gameplay was rather mediocre and its anime cast of characters with goofy voice acting didn't particularly keep me engaged. Given Keiji Inafune's involvement with Extreme Condition, I was willing to give it a fair shake, but I ultimately found it to be a pretty mediocre experience throughout.
Fast forward around 3 years later and we were greeted to Lost Planet 2, a co-op spin on Lost Planet's formula. While its main component was its co-op, you could play it entirely solo. However, the game felt broken, frustrating, and many of the boss battles would go on forever in solo mode, making it a repetitive chore to play alone. And guess what? Playing with friends only made your friends have to deal with the repetitive slog that was Lost Planet 2. So despite its shortcomings, was the story at least good? That'd be a no. As I said, this is mainly a co-op game and as such the story was completely throwaway. You want characters with personalities? Nope, not gonna get that with Lost Planet 2. Lost Planet 2 was rock bottom for the franchise.
Fast forward another 3 years and now we have Lost Planet 3, returning the franchise back to its roots with characters, a story, etc. While the first two games were developed internally at Capcom, Lost Planet 3 was outsourced to Spark Unlimited, which should raise a red flag if you're aware of their past work, notably Turning Point: Fall of Liberty and Legendary, two incredibly low budget first-person shooters with grand ideas and a whole lot of potential but both failing to realize any of it. So while I wasn't exactly too optimistic about Lost Planet 3's chances of being a good game, I figured it couldn't get any worse than Lost Planet 2, and you know what? I was right. So let's see how Lost Planet 3 turned out, shall we?
First and foremost, Lost Planet 3 is essentially Aliens meets Dead Space. If you were one of the few people who actually liked previous Lost Planet's and don't like Aliens and Dead Space, you know, Lost Planet 3 may not be for you. Now that I've said that, let me say that Lost Planet 3 is hands down the best game in the franchise. Forgoing its more linear roots, Lost Planet 3 opens up with hub environments much like an RPG, allowing you to explore, take on main quests, side quests, collect text and audio logs, talk to people, etc. It's certainly a radical departure from the series' roots, but it's also more in line with the style of games I typically prefer to play. It's more open and more ambitious while retaining some linearity and scripting during missions. Honestly, I didn't think the developer, Spark Unlimited, was capable of making a game like this, however it's nice to be surprised and proven wrong.
Gameplay: It's essentially a third-person shooter mixed with mech sections. While it plays a whole lot better than past Lost Planet's, it's not the most fluid playing game, however it's not bad at all and certainly mechanically sound overall. A lot of it was obviously inspired by Dead Space.
Graphics: I was honestly shocked at how nice this game looked. Facial animations are generally expressive, lighting looks really nice, art direction is superb, textures range from serviceable to excellent in detail, and the whole game just has great atmosphere.
Sound: Voice acting is top notch and the radio in your mech is pretty goofy but fun to listen to. There's also some great ambient music sprinkled throughout.
Story & Characters: Both are way better than I expected. Likable characters and a narrative that you want to see through to the conclusion.
So while Lost Planet 3 isn't a perfect game that's going to be named one of the best games ever, it's still a game that's way better than it had any right to be. I really enjoyed this one.