One of the more memorable Xbox 360 games from the first part of 2007 was Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, a third-person shooter which placed you in very snowy terrain to fight off all manner of wierd alien beasties with cool weapons and, most importantly, big mechs that you could control and jump around in. The game received a fairly good reception from gamers and critics alike, and was then ported over to the PC a few months later, before reaching what we thought was its final destination on the PlayStation 3 a few months ago. But just like one of those annoying television advertisements informing you that 'There's still more!', Lost Planet is back once again, this time in the form of Colonies Edition, which is essentially the same experience that we remember from the original iteration, but with some new features and a budget price-point. So nearly 18 months since its initial release, is Lost Planet: Colonies Edition with its new features worth the now cheap-ish cost?
We suppose there are two ways you can look at Lost Planet; firstly, if you haven't played it before, let's give a rundown of what to expect. Set in the future (like any good action game), humanity has left the planet Earth in search of greener pastures, and has stumbled upon the 'lost' planet from the title, which is covered in an unhealthy amount of snow and is crawling with creepy orange-blooded aliens called the Akrid. Your character, Wayne, wakes up to discover that he has amnesia (like any good Japanese game) and joins a band of snow pirates to help fight off the Akrid, and uncover the real reason that he has travelled here. The storyline is a little bit loopy at the best of times, but can be entertaining none the less.
Killing these Akrid is incredibly important, and not just because they're trying to kill you, but because blowing them to gooey pieces will cause them to leave behind a substance known as Thermal Energy, which is vital to your survival on the snowy planet, as otherwise you will die a cold and freezy death. Your Thermal Energy is constantly draining with whatever you do, so it acts as a tense timer when you're trying to complete missions as quickly as possible. We won't focus too much on the main campaign itself, as it's essentially unchanged from the original release, but it does feature some great action scenes with larger-than-life Akrid creatures, and fighting in the previously mentioned mechs (known in the game as Vital Suits) is a lot of fun if not a little bit awkard to get a handle of at first.
While the campaign in Colonies Edition may be the same, there are a couple of different ways you can actually participate in the single player portion of the title. In Score Attack mode, you can play through the levels of the game in an effort to gain combos and high scores so you can top the leaderboards. Not just enemies add to your combo, however - if you destroy your environment, it will keep your score going higher and higher, so as long as there's something to shoot, the combo will continue to grow, which makes things hectic in a good way. Trial Battle mode puts you up against one boss after another in succession, and the Off Limit mode allows you to play through the campaign at a much faster pace with unlimited ammunition and access to the most powerful weapons available. They're fun distractions, but certainly don't warrant a re-purchase for those that have finished the campaign in the past.
The online multiplayer modes have also been given some new features which actually do add to the gameplay in a positive way. There are your basic things like new characters and new maps, but it's the additional game modes which are the most interesting by far. There are new variations on your basic attack and defend style modes, but the one particularly cool mode is called Akrid Hunter and actually allows players to take control of the massive Akrid bugs to fight some human characters. It's certainly a novelty, but it's a lot of fun to play as the 'enemy' for a change of pace. There are also 10 new weapons in the game including a modified rocket launcher which shoots four rockets simultaneously for massive damage, so if you're a fan of the multiplayer action, Colonies Edition brings it in spades.
The biggest issue that we have with this re-release of sorts is not with the core gameplay itself; it's with the fact that Colonies Edition is an entirely seperate entity to the original Lost Planet: Extreme Condition. This means that any save games you had in the original will not be usable here, and neither will your online ranking. This could have maybe been forgivable, but even more troubling is the fact that people who purchase Colonies Edition will not be able to compete online against owners of the original Lost Planet, which is going to severely harm the amount of users that are playing online. It's a shame, because the multiplayer modes by themselves are a definite highlight, but dividing the Lost Planet fans in this way surely wasn't the best decision that could have been made here. That being said, at least Xbox 360 owners can battle PC owners cross-platform, which should at least help with the size of the userbase.
Lost Planet: Colonies Edition is the kind of game that, over a year after it was first released, could find an audience with players who are yet to experience the Akrid-killing fun. It's a decent game, and though it has been surpassed with other action games since then, being sold at a cheaper price-point definitely helps matters and can be marked down as a major positive. If you've played Lost Planet: Extreme Condition before, then this one is only recommendable if you were a massive fan of the original. The storyline is unchanged, the core gameplay remains intact and the new features while nice to see probably don't warrant a re-purchase unless you missed out on the game the first time around. Lost Planet: Colonies Edition is without question the 'definitive' Lost Planet release, so if you've always considered it but have been hesitant in the past, now is the time to purchase.