Lost Planet 2 Multiplayer Hands-On PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Mar 31, 2010
“B.B.B.B.B.B.B.B.B.!!! Come on you stupid data post, activate!” I screamed to myself as I frantically tapped the B button, while scanning the surrounding area for approaching enemies. For a split second, I lowered my gaze and just then an opposing player, in a hulking mech suit, sprang up onto the ledge where I was standing, shaking the very ground around me. Several massive bullets tore through the ground around me, kicking up sparks and debris. Having no choice, I dove away from the half-activated data post just as another series of bullets skipped around me. I let off a few choice shots into the pirate-mech's chest, but as I tried to dive out of the way of another series of incoming shots, I was struck in the head, causing me to slump pathetically to the cold, rocky ground of the cliff’s edge…And then I respawned, and did the whole thing over again.
This is just one of the hundreds of equally nerve-racking and pulse-pounding moments that characterize the multiplayer component of Capcom’s much awaited sequel Lost Planet 2, which I had a chance to check out at the Capcom offices yesterday.
The four maps on display each offered something different in terms of layout, design and strategy: Turbulent Jungle is a foliage-rich map complete with streams and lush vegetation that puts a big emphasis on verticality thanks to the towering rock formations that surround the industrial installations; Thunderpeal consists of battling along cliff edges as they are hammered by rain and turbulent waves; Dual Complex sports an industrial theme complete with catwalks, metal grating and other oil rig-esque characteristics; and Pirate Jungle returns in practically identical form from Lost Planet, and served as the token snow level.
The maps are definitely designed to be played with the maximum 16 players, because playing four-on-four resulted in a lot of traversing large expanses (the fact that your character once again kind of lumbers along even while sprinting doesn’t help) before you find any action. And if you don’t have a nearby data post activated, you’re forced to do make the same trek each time you die. But I have a feeling that with 16 players, this won’t really be that big of an issue. Hopefully. Also, each map has four unique layouts that influence where weapons, vehicles and characters spawn, in addition to differing weather conditions (rain, mist, sunshine, etc.), which means that you aren’t entirely sure what the map is going to look like when the match begins, and that’s pretty great.
Scattered across the maps were an array of weapons and vehicles to play with, including sniper rifles, rocket launchers, Vital Suits, tanks and personal hovercrafts. While the vehicles all handled well and looked uniformly badass in action, the weapons themselves felt a bit uneven. Unloading full clips into enemies without bringing them down is incredibly frustrating, and watching enemies take round after round from a battle-copter looks more than a little bizarre. Headshots are clearly the way to go, but a solid barrage of bullets should be plenty to take someone down, especially at close range. Thankfully, the mechanics keep the game consistently exciting. Not only are the weapons and grenades varied, the vehicles once again add a great layer to the combat. Seeing a hulking tank roll over a nearby hill, or watching a mech come vaulting over a building instantly causes your heart to race as you try and gather your team together for a spontaneous coordinated attack.
The couple of game modes we were shown were your standard deathmatch, team deathmatch and territory control. However, to mix things up, the game lets you change how each match is won. Battle Gauge gives your team a set number of points at the start of the match, and as the match goes along, that gauge runs down. Killing enemy players, capturing data posts, destroying Vital Suits, etc. earns you points and keeps that gauge from running down to zero. As Capcom community guru Shawn Baxter explains, “[Battle Gauge] is really heavily focused on teamwork. So if you want to do just a standard, ‘I’m online with a bunch of goobers who don’t know what they’re doing, so I just want it kill based,’ you can switch the match settings to kill-based; 50 to kills to win or whatever you want to do.” There will be several match types to choose from in the final game, but these were the only two on display.
Clearly, Capcom has committed fully to the idea of variety with Lost Planet 2. The game modes, match types, map layouts, weapon/vehicle options, character customization, weather effects, etc., it is all part of Capcom’s strategy to create an ever changing and constantly surprising multiplayer experience. And based on my time with the game, they are well on their way to doing just that.