We get our first hands-on with the PS3 version of Capcom's snowy shooter--more than a year after its initial Xbox 360 launch. But how different are the two versions really?
Capcom's Lost Planet: Extreme Condition has only been around a little while, but it has already jumped through its fair share of hoops. It first made its debut on Microsoft's Xbox 360 console last year before being catapulted over to the PC, where it subsequently became the poster boy for DirectX 10 graphics. Now, more than a year after hitting shelves (and even longer since its initial December 2006 launch in Japan), the game will make an appearance on Sony's PlayStation 3.
For those that missed the game in either its first or second coming, Lost Planet is a third-person shooter which revolves around the struggle for energy between humans and a hostile alien race called the Akrid. After colonizing E.D.N III and being met with resistance from the local wildlife, rather than try somewhere else for a free ride, humanity hangs tough and decides to wipe out those pesky aliens instead. Think Starship Troopers in a winter setting and you're halfway there.
The big question on a lot of people's minds is: What has Capcom done with Lost Planet on the PS3, and which will be the best of the three versions? To be perfectly blunt, based on our hands-on time with the title, you're in good hands whichever way you swing. The visual differences are nitpicky at best, and doing a thorough visual comparison of the 360 and PS3 versions side-by-side with both static scenes and moving gameplay put the two on a very similar graphical footing.
One of the most noticeable differences between the two was colour. In addition to a slight contrast and colour saturation variance, the Xbox 360 retail version has a slight red mask, making some scenes appear slightly pink. In comparison, the PlayStation 3 debug build we played seemed to be a little heavier in the green, giving indoor environments a slight teal tinge. Neither affects gameplay.
Particle and environmental effects such as smoke and snow storms are reasonably similar on both console versions, and while we slightly preferred the Xbox 360 volumetric smoke, the PS3 version seemed to produce more natural lighting conditions, particularly when looking at indoor fluorescent lighting and the glowing red crystals found in the underground portion of the first mission. That said, on a couple of occasions during our play--and once or twice during cut scenes--we noticed slight slowdown on the PS3. We put this one down to work in progress code as it was infrequent, even during boss fights and areas with multiple enemies on screen.
Unlike the Xbox 360, the PS3 version also offers a hard drive preload option when you first fire it up (sort of like a mini-install process). Essentially, it copies content from the game disc to the PS3 to improve load times. Our install took 15 minutes and it only needs to be done once. Comparing PS3 loads with 360 load times, we found that PS3 times were on average two to three seconds quicker. It's not much, but it adds up over time if you don't mind spending the disk space.
Like the original, you'll play as Wayne, a snow pirate looking to avenge his father's death at the claws of the Akrid. As the third release of the game, Capcom has rolled some of the extra content from the PC and 360 versions into the PS3 release, as well as a little extra. In addition to the launch maps, this version will also feature the three Xbox Live marketplace map packs (Radar Field, Island 902, Hive Complex, Trial Point, Ice Drop, Ruins, and Lost Technology).
They've also thrown in Battleground, a map originally only available in the limited edition version of the game before going free mid-last year. Like the PC version, PS3 owners will also be able to unlock and play as multiple characters in both the campaign and multiplayer modes. Unlike the PC version, however, Capcom has added a fourth unlockable--Luka--to the Frank West, Joe, and MegaMan lineup. There are four existing multiplayer modes--Elimination, Team Elimination, Fugitive, and Post Grab remain--with no new modes being added. Like both the PC and 360 versions, up to 16 players can battle it out online per match.
The control scheme in this version mirrors the Xbox 360 version, with left and right triggers used to fire your weapon and throw grenades, and the shoulder buttons to snap the camera 90 degrees left or right. Analog sticks are responsible for moving and aiming. Clicking them toggles crouch and reloads your weapons. VS mech controls also stay the same, with jump, dash, and melee attacks mapped to the controller face buttons and handling identically cross-platform.
Given the amount of time that has lapsed between launches, we had hoped to see more exclusive PlayStation 3 content, but at its core, this is a straight port with the existing additional goodies rolled into the mix. On the plus side, it will save you having to download it all when you want to hit up the multiplayer modes. Coming to the party late means it's the most complete way to experience Lost Planet if you didn't grab a copy the first time around. Check GameSpot shortly for a full review, with the game making its way into stores in late February/early March 2008.
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