When was the last time you were really cold? Not pleasant, is it? Luckily for you, you can just go and turn on a radiator, light a fire or put on another coat if you want to stave off the chills. Things aren't so easy in Lost Planet: Extreme Condition however, where the temperature just might be the death of you.
You take control of Wayne Holden, a young soldier involved in the fight against a hostile alien race known as the Akrid. After a particularly climactic battle against a large Akrid creature known only as Green Eye, Wayne's father Gale is killed, and Wayne is lost on the icy plains of the ice planet E.D.N. III. Living up to the game's Extreme Condition subtitle, the planet of E.D.N III is perpetually cold and snowy, and crawling with Akrid, who are all out to destroy any remaining vestiges of humanity.
Heat is the key to your survival in the Arctic conditions of E.D.N III, and is measured by your T-ENG or Thermal Energy level. Wayne is equipped with a device known as the Harmonizer implanted in his arm, which monitors his T-ENG levels, levels that constantly drop as the icy weather slowly freezes Wayne to death. Sustain any injuries and the Harmonizer will patch you up, but at the expense of some of your T-ENG. However, every Akrid has T-ENG inside them that collects in orange pools when they are defeated, and can be used to top up your heat levels, making every level a race against time as you struggle to survive the icy winds while collecting enough thermal energy to keep you alive. T-ENG can also be gained from other heat sources, such as explosive barrels or data posts, which also act as mission checkpoints.
The T-Eng system means the emphasis in Lost Planet is very much on running and shooting as you will need to keep your levels topped up as much as possible. If you don't stay on the move, fighting enemies, uncovering checkpoints and battling bosses then you're going to wind up in big trouble.
Gameplay is in the form of a third person shooter. Wayne can use a variety of weapons, including pistols, shotguns and rocket launchers, as well as a grappling hook that can be used to reach high platforms. He also has access to a number of Vital Suits - giant mech-style exoskeletons that can jump great distances, hover in mid-air and have the handy addition of different weapons to take down the Akrid. The multiple Vital Suits you can use all have different abilities and weapons including grenade launchers and chainsaws, and some can even transform into faster, more mobile forms, such as snowmobiles, or giant spider-inspired drilling machines.
You can also rip the weapons off the Vital Suits and use them yourself on foot, which is at once both hugely satisfying and totally necessary as the game is packed with enemies that are more than a match for Wayne, along with gigantic boss fights that bring to mind the Devil May Cry series in their vastness of scale.
As you would expect of developers Capcom, the studio behind games such as Resident Evil and Okami, the presentation is top notch. The vast, snow-swept plains of E.D.N. III create a sense of isolation and fear that contribute to the game's immersive atmosphere and as the game progresses, the introduction of indoor sections and brand new environments give the level design and lighting effects a chance to shine.
Lost Planet is a great game packed with well-designed enemies, jaw-dropping boss encounters and a twisting, compelling story that will have you hooked until the end. Add to this some gorgeous graphics and a multiplayer mode that lets you and your friends take part in some huge battles online and you've got, in more ways than one, one of the coolest games of the year.