Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Let's Compare Lost Planet 3 to a Good Game

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 22 Oct 2013 12:00
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Lost Planet 3 reminds me of Metroid Prime, which was a really good game on the Gamecube that Nintendo haven't gotten around to re-releasing yet. They can't re-release Zeldas fast enough, though, can they? Which I'm calling blatant favouritism. I guess since Metroid Prime was finely-crafted and atmospheric it's probably not commercial enough.

But 'reminding me of' is a very different kettle of fish from 'being as good as'. If Lost Planet 3 reminds me of Metroid Prime, it's as part of Lost Planet 3's ongoing efforts to wear any identity other than its own, pasting together a hodge-podge of themes and ideas from other games and sci-fi movies. But it's no bad thing to aspire to be Metroid Prime or any other game that's way out of your league. It's only barely a bad thing to rip off something good - somebody once said that a good writer borrows and a great writer steals - but you only get away with it if the end result is something equally good. I'd like to discuss how Lost Planet 3 reminds me of Metroid Prime with a sort of notional Goofus & Gallant comparison format.

Metroid Prime is technically 'open world' without being a sandbox, an effective 3D interpretation of the traditionally 2D 'Metroidvania' style coined by Super Metroid and Castlevania Symphony of the Night. It drops you into a vast world to explore, full of twisting paths leading in every direction. Sure, ultimately there's a linear route you have to take to get the abilities in the right order to proceed, but you're free to explore to your heart's content, with each new area being interwoven with old ones to create a sense that you are gradually learning to independently navigate a vast, complex world. Every now and again the game points rather obstinately towards the next place you're supposed to go to, but otherwise direction is kept fairly loose.

Lost Planet 3, meanwhile, has a strictly linear sequence of missions, and basically just bolts a new area onto the world map for each one, most of which you have no reason to return to after the related story mission. Unless of course there's an optional side mission, the first of which is to go back to the area you just visited as part of the story and do pretty much exactly the same thing you did before. The game also puts down objective markers with the psychotic regularity of airport terminal signage.

Metroid Prime is a constant stream of adventure and exploration. While you can go back to your ship at any time, after a while it becomes just another waypoint in a huge navigational network. Basically what I'm saying is that Samus Aran is a hobo. But a hobo dressed in a sleek, form-fitting robot suit that allows her to move with grace and speed. As she explores and the world gets bigger and bigger, the suit gradually acquires new abilities to move from area to area with greater speed and efficiency, keeping the gameplay flow relatively smooth.

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