“The approach that we're taking is, how do we create a game that Western users are going to enjoy even more than games that are developed in the West?”
So says Capcom's Jun Takeuchi, producer on Resident Evil 5, Onimusha 3 and the original Lost Planet. He's standing in front of an expectant crowd at Captivate 09, a widescreen television looming large behind him. To his left sit four developers, each one staring at a TV of their own, a Xbox 360 controller clasped in a vice-like grip. In about five minutes time Capcom will present a live gameplay demo of Lost Planet 2, showing off the brand new four-player co-op. The heat is on.
The demo begins. A group of steampunk anime-styled characters head towards a jungle swamp on a speedboat of sorts. They reach land, jump out, and speed forward in classic third-person shooter roadie-run style. Wait - what's that? Where's the snow? You know, the white stuff that so defined the original when it was released back in 2007. It's gone. Thawed, in fact. What we're now seeing is lush greenery. Gorgeous, lush, next-generation greenery.
There's a moment of readjustment - it shouldn't be a surprise in any case. Fans of the original might remember that at the end of that game, E.D.N. III, the "Lost Planet", began to thaw. A decade on and terraforming efforts have seen the ice melt, in its place jungles and deserts. The planet is changing, the environment is changing - the game is an obvious social commentary on real world global warming, and we like it.
And then it hits you: Lost Planet 2 looks absolutely stunning. The graphics are, by a clear margin, the best on show at Capcom's Captivate 09 event. In fact, and this might be a bold claim, Lost Planet 2, even at this early stage, might just be the best-looking Capcom game ever made. The player character models are wonderfully detailed, their spiky armour, outlandish helmets and big guns as captivating as the jungle scenery itself. They shoot pulsing blobs as they make their way through the jungle - boxes with question marks appear as loot. The grass - the grass! It sways in the wind and alters shape as player boots leave their mark. The level of fidelity on offer, the detail of the player characters and the lushness of their surroundings almost lends the game an Unreal Engine 3 feel, sans the shininess. It's all down to the MT Framework engine, Capcom's in-house game engine that's used for "next-gen" development. Lost Planet 2 uses the latest version of it, version 2.0, which in part explains why it looks so good.