With a crowd of journalists hanging off his every word, Jun Takeuchi, producer of Lost Planet 2 declared that the number 2 in the game title wasn't actually a number 2. Interrupting the bewildered murmurs of the crowd, Takeuchi boldly explained that, in fact, the digit meant 'squared'. On closer inspection of the logo (and you can do this yourself), I realised he was right: the number wasn't a number at all - it was a power. He went on to explain that Lost Planet2 is more than a sequel in the traditional sense. It's a quantum leap forward for the franchise; a game that's exponentially better than the original. While this might seem trivial at first, the positioning of that number says an awful lot about the scope of the sequel.
Takeuchi's mathematical ramblings echoed in my mind as I played LP2 for myself. It was indeed an evolution of the first. The story takes place ten years after the events of the original and the snowy plains of E.D.N.III have seen lush jungles and colourful vegetation spring up. It's a striking contrast, but the game looks gorgeous. Structurally things are different to the first too, taking advantage of the linearity to concentrate the action into a smaller area. This banishes idle wandering around, creating chaotic and frenzied shoot outs, with action that never relinquishes its grip on your attention. There are a slew of new weapons and vehicles, and everything has a much more solid feel to it, part in thanks to the new and improved MT Framework Engine. Then - and this is where the sequel really lives up to the power of 2 in the title - there's multiplayer.
Be under no illusion that this is simply an improved version of the multiplayer in Lost Planet 1 tacked onto the main campaign. Oh no, the influences of multiplayer seep into each and every aspect of the experience. In fact, the single-player often feels like it takes a back seat, and even when it does take the wheel, there's four player co-op to steer gamers back on track. Much like any multiplayer experience, the campaign mode has lobbies, where players can prepare a four-man team to tackle the Akrid threat. If you're playing alone, three AI team-mates will assist you in combat, but you're urged to share the experience with others – the AI does a decent job but it's just not the same as playing with real people.
Then there's the boss battles; gargantuan, over the top and seemingly one-sided boss battles. Lost Planet 2 flaunts the tagline 'Kill Big' - and for good reason. In a demonstration of a never-before-seen level, four of Capcom's finest spent the best part of ten minutes trying to take down a particularly nasty Akrid. All teeth and claws, the monster was a formidable opponent, towering above the level, filling the screen with its foul body. Each of the team was doing something different; one pumping the beast full of lead, one zipping to a better vantage point with the grappling hook, another desperately seeking cover. After enduring more gunfire than any enemy I've seen in a game before, the monstrosity finally hit the floor, dropping lovely power ups and ammo as it did so. The crowd cheered; seeing such a large foe brought to its knees was inspiring stuff.
My own time with the campaign was short, and the Akrid I disposed of were not nearly as impressive. No, the majority of the time I spent with the game was in the multiplayer; team deathmatches to be precise. I'm going to preface my account of that experience by first explaining an important fact: I don't particularly enjoy multiplayer. I'm the kind of guy that prefers to shut myself away in a room, turn off my phone and immerse myself in the world of whatever I happen to be playing. Multiplayer only serves to detract from that, and I therefore tend to ignore it. MMOs, beat-em-ups and certain co-op games are a different story, but I stay well clear of online shooters and action games. I can be quite irritable at times, and losing online stresses me out too much. I play games to relax and unwind - not to get my arse kicked by annoyingly exuberant kids who scream profanities down their microphones whilst tea-bagging my lifeless body. But I digress.
The point I'm trying to make here is that even considering my disposition as a single-player gamer, I still had an incredible amount of fun with Lost Planet 2. After a good hour of repeatedly getting myself killed at the hands of the giggling journalists on the other side of the room, things started to fall into place. The initially clunky controls no longer bothered me, I began to get a feel for the weaponry and aiming sensitivity, and I finally took control of one of the game's impressive vehicles. It wasn't long before I was embarking on killing streaks of my own, and I too found myself laughing at the misfortunes of my slain foes.