The constant energy drain is an interesting concept that could add a great sense of urgency to the game, requiring you to sprint between data posts and choose your battles according to how much energy you have left. But it doesn't quite work that way in Lost Planet. On the normal difficulty setting you'll almost never have to think about your draining energy, because it's so abundant that you'll rarely come anywhere close to running out. It does become more of a consideration on the harder difficulty settings, but even then the concept doesn't feel as though it's being implemented as well as it could be.
Contrary to what you might have seen of the game, Lost Planet doesn't take place entirely in vast open fields of snow. There are some indoor environments to explore as well, including fiery volcanoes and underground industrial complexes. The levels are all large and fun to explore, especially because you have a grappling hook that lets you reach precarious ledges and rappel from structures to reach new areas below. If you're feeling destructive you can spend a lot of time tearing the levels apart, because each stage is full of destructible walls, vehicles, towers, rocks, explosive barrels, and storage tanks. Combined with the aliens, guns, and explosions, the environments go a long way to keep the action intense. There's a decent amount of variety to the levels as well, and on the rare occasion that you aren't blasting aliens or snow pirates, you might find yourself taking in views of some of the great-looking landscapes.
There are also some nice weapon effects to please the eyes and ears. The weapons range from the traditional assault rifle and shotgun to more advanced weapons like plasma rifles and grenades that deploy inflatable, explosive decoys to confuse (and explode) your enemies. You can even pick up mech weapons and wield them on foot, which certainly looks cool but severely limits your movement. Most of the guns are appropriately satisfying to shoot, with the rocket launcher in particular producing some fantastic explosions. There's not much reason to go looking for extra weapons, though, because with the standard-issue assault rifle and grenades, you can take on just about anything.
As great as Lost Planet looks, the sound doesn't quite match up. There's some dramatic music that ramps up when the action is heated, but it isn't distinct or memorable. Still, the music is one of the high points of the sound and fits the game quite well. Some of the weapons--the rocket launcher, in particular--sound nice and powerful, but others lack punch. The mechs sound great; they crunch through the snow with their huge, heavy feet, and most of the enemy creatures shriek and scream menacingly enough. The voice acting is stiff at best, and sounds completely phony at worst. It's not a major issue, since nothing the characters say ever really matters, but it still makes the cutscenes a bit harder to watch. The human characters in the game will also shout remarks at you while you're fighting, but they sound hokey--still, there are only a few lines that get repeated often.
You can finish all 11 missions of the single-player game in about seven or eight hours on your first play-through. It will take considerably longer if you're hunting all the hidden target icons in each level, which you can collect to earn achievements. Fortunately, Lost Planet doesn't end with the single-player game. The game supports 16-player online battles with eight maps and four different game modes. There are the obligatory deathmatch and team deathmatch modes, as well as an all-against-one fugitive mode and a team-based mode called post grab, in which each team tries to activate and defend all of the data posts on the map. Because there are only eight maps available at the moment, you'll quickly be able to memorize the general features of each stage. However, you can select several different layouts for each map, which changes the location of data posts, weapons, mechs, and starting points. All of the maps are huge and are fairly well designed, with plenty of towering structures to climb with your grappling hook, as well as underground tunnels to explore, and even some underwater areas.
One thing this game does really well is give you lots of guns and things to shoot.
As you play online you'll earn points, which raises your level. As you increase in level you'll unlock new character skins to use in future matches. The leveling system is also a good way of judging how experienced other players are--although, of course, experience doesn't necessarily coincide with skill. The servers aren't segregated based on territory, so you can find yourself playing with people in Japan, France, the UK, and elsewhere. It's a great way to ensure plenty of available opponents, but you might run into issues when trying to communicate with teammates who don't speak your language. In our experience that didn't matter much, though; we found plenty of exciting, lag-free battles online with people all over the world.
Lost Planet is a great action game because it focuses on tense, thrilling battles that don't require much input beyond a constant trigger finger and healthy desire to kill everything that moves. There's very little downtime in the single-player game, and there's always plenty of stuff to shoot. That makes it easily entertaining if you're just in the mood to kick back and put your brain on standby for awhile. The multiplayer requires much more skill and a slightly more sophisticated, though no less manic, approach. As a result, the multiplayer game is an excellent complement to the single-player action. The brief campaign is a disappointment, but while it lasts, Lost Planet holds its own among the abundant shooters available for the Xbox 360--and considering how great some of those other games are, that's no small feat.