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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Xbox 360
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1-16
January 12, 2007

Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

 Written by Joe Comunale  on December 06, 2006

Multiplayer Hands-On Preview: Dare we say that Capcom has another flagship franchise blossoming before our very eyes?

Capcom unveiled its early build of Lost Planet at E3 (which was also available on Xbox Live), and needless to say, it stirred up a good deal of anticipation. Six months later and Capcom has no intentions of letting its frigid shooter get lost in the sea of upcoming games, releasing yet another demo on Xbox Live. The first demo gave us a brief glimpse of the game's single-player action, and now Capcom blesses 360 owners with an online multiplayer demo. And let's just say it hasn't lost one step since E3.

The menu screen features ranked match, player match, voice masks, and select character, none of which were accessible besides player match. Here, you can set up a match that supports up to 16 players. The match setup screen has initial equipment and stage grayed out, so you always start out with a machine gun in the Pirate Fortress map. And friendly fire cannot be toggled off on team mode. The remaining categories let players pick the match type (elimination or team elimination), the time limit, and the battle gauge. Elimination is similar to your standard death match, but it's not about how many times you die, but rather a race to reach a point value by accruing kills.

The controls and physics feel untouched from the E3 demo, but this new build divulges a wide array of armament, grenades included. Players can also test out the VS, which is a sturdy mech robot. Maneuvering this huge hunk of metal is like walking with dumbbells tied to your feet, but at least it's a commanding hunk of metal. On one type of VS, the left and right arms are equipped with a gatling gun and cannon, respectively. The other type of VS instead dons a missile launcher as a right arm. Both are advantageous in their own right, but driving either one will decrease your T-energy meter at a considerably steeper rate. So you'll want to cut out any lollygagging. And that shouldn't be too hard, as it's awe-inspiring to watch the missiles put anything in their path up in smoke, flexing the game's very impressive fire and smoke effects. It's empowering to commandeering a VS, but it's just the beginning in terms of firepower. Here's a brief rundown of a few of the guns and grenades:

1. Shotgun ? This is a relatively bulky gun with a high impact shot and, as you may assume, is one of the better guns to use in close proximity.

2. Machine gun ? This is your standard equipped gun in the level. It's not one of your stronger guns, but it still gets the job done with its quick fire.

3. Plasma gun ? This gun shoots out a plasma charge and is probably the least useful gun. You'd likely be better off with the basic machine gun.

4. Energy gun ? This gun emits a similar charge as the plasma gun does. And you can also charge the gun for a more devastating energy ball, which, again, comes at the expense to your T-energy number, discouraging you to take any aimless shots.

5. Homing Laser ? This gun is the highlight of the demo, and without debate is the most devastating of the group. Its impressive homing distance will let you lock onto a player on the other side of the map and spouts out four luminous laser beams into the air. Chances are that not every beam will reach its destination, but its impressive honing distance almost guarantees that one of them will get a hold of the intended target. While the gun has a godlike destructibility, using it is frequently is borderline suicide because each targeted shot considerably drains your T-energy.

6. Gatling gun ? This rapid fire gun puts your standard machine gun to shame and mows down players quicker than you can say ?gatling gun.? In light of the homing laser's costly qualities, this is the gun that every player should race for as a match begins.

1. Hand grenade ? Compared to the others, this is one of your more straightforward grenades and is most beneficial in close-range combat.

2. Plasma grenade ? This grenade's almost identical to the hand grenade in trajectory and impact.

3. Gum grenade ? As the name suggests, this grenade can get you out of a ?sticky? situation quickly with good aim, as it glues itself to whatever it hits.

4. Disk grenade ? Whoever said grenades are limited to short and mid-range combat? This is the sniper rifle of grenades, so to speak. It travels in a straight trajectory (similar to a Frisbee, except it's impervious to gravity) until an object gets in its path. With the massive draw-in distance, watching this baby fly until it hits something is a sight to see.

5. Dummy grenade ? This grenade is the most distinctive of the group. It unleashes an inflated dummy with a built-in propeller. You can set it off with a shot or wait for it to explode on its own.

As you can see, just this build alone exhibits a broad variation of weapons. The mixture of your standardized guns with your more outlandish, fantasy-based armament is a welcomed inclusion, and it's only natural to wonder what guns the developer has yet to reveal. Players can also pistol-whip each other, although this melee attack isn't nearly as deadly as a game like Halo or Gears of War. And the transition from jumping to striking (and vice versa) could use some refining. The close-range melee combat could be a bit more responsive too. While you won't gain much ground running or jumping, you can use your anchor to traverse the multi-leveled area more effectively. It latches onto cement and metallic surfaces and propels you to your mark, letting you easily scale buildings and any obtrusive structures. It's a good elusive device too because you can duck for cover by jumping off a ledge, catch yourself in mid-air, and propel back up to the same level.

The Pirate Fortress map is fun to play, with enough ground levels and structures to let players sneak up on each other and find places to duck out. But the fact that your T-energy is forever stuck in a downward spiral eliminates long hide outs and encourages a steadfast level of action, since you gain big chunks of T-energy by amassing kills. And this shouldn't be a problem considered there are guns and grenades everywhere you look. There are also these vibrant, robot-like apparatuses that grant energy by approaching one and rapidly pressing the B button. The whole process takes roughly 10 seconds, however, giving enemies ample time to off you in the process.

Those favoring the first-person view may become frustrated when using the 90-degree turn function, which makes the camera angle whip back to the third-person perspective. While the uninvited transition is helpful at times, Capcom should really think about letting players toggle this feature on and off, as it can be somewhat intrusive. And once the match is over, you're taken to the results screen but booted from the game and players you just played with, forcing you to find them again from the lobby.

Final Thoughts
We won't prematurely crown this game as one of the best to come out in 2007, but Capcom has certainly taken some commanding steps to point us in that direction. Most of the ingredients are in place, so we'll just have to wait to see what it all boils down to.

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