For those who battled monstrous Akrid and launched millions of grappling hooks in the original game, Lost Planet 2 expands the fertile blend of mechanised suits, snow and alien bloodshed in a four-player co-operative version.

But the transformation of the campaign sucks out much of the excitement from Lost Planet 2, resulting in an ill-explained co-op adventure that's a chore to trudge through.

The original Lost Planet centered on ambiguous hero Wayne, whose narrative gave you a sense of what you were fighting for. Lost Planet 2 takes a different approach, scrapping characters and replacing them with factions fighting for T-ENG – a valuable resource akin to Dune's spice – 10 years after the first game.

Fighting monstrous Akrid is interesting, especially when you're armed with a killer shotgun; it just isn't as fun as it could be. It’s hard to make sense of the conflict in Lost Planet 2, characters aren’t introduced nor their loyalties or motivations explained; you take control of a fresh faction with each episode.

Tight corridors replace the open canyons of the first Lost Planet game, and most of the unique, snow-covered environments are replaced by genre-standard desert and jungle.

The mechanized Vital Suits may be imposing but their potential is limited by the Lost Planet 2 game's on-foot focus.

Campaigns quickly fall into a routine. Missions either consist of mind-numbingly mundane tasks such as activating data posts, or laborious boss fights and missions set on moving vehicles.

Lost Planet 2 is best experienced with at least one partner, if not three, and while the game fills in the gaps with AI partners, their actions are inconsistent. We witnessed automated allies performing admirable acts such as activating a data post we’d missed; then see them standing motionless as numerous opponents surrounded us.

A poorly crafted mission structure separates each of Lost Planet 2's six episodes into chapters comprising smaller missions. Checkpoints come only at the beginning of chapters, so losing a later mission in a chapter kicks you back to the start. Feel no shame in knocking down the difficulty level.

The multiplayer experience is more compelling. While battling for kills, or capturing Akrid eggs or data posts, the Vital Suits and grappling hooks still gives the game a flair that doesn't exist in other shooters. Character customization and unlockable abilities offer fresh ways to enter the battlefield, though you'll have to play through campaigns to earn credits.

Among the 10 maps are a confined game-show battle zone complete with overenthusiastic announcer, and an outer space setting where each player has a hoverpack to jet between platforms.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Lost Planet 2: Specs

  • Intel Pentium 4, 512MB RAM
  • Graphics card with DirectX 9.0c Shader Model 3, 256MB VRAM
  • Intel Pentium 4, 512MB RAM
  • Graphics card with DirectX 9.0c Shader Model 3, 256MB VRAM

OUR VERDICT

Though not a major upgrade, Lost Planet 2's competitive multiplayer is a worthwhile mode; it just doesn't compensate for what is an otherwise disappointing experience. Fans of the original might find enough to justify a purchase, but the monotonous campaign and lacklustre design makes it hard to recommend.

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