Capcom Co. this month previewed Lost Planet 3 in a pre-Electronic Entertainment Expo event in Los Angeles.

Developed by Spark Unlimited, Lost Planet 3 is a prequel to first two installments and takes place in the icy conditions of E.D.N. III.

The third installment looks to deliver an immersive single-player campaign experience rather than the multiplayer-based Lost Planet 2. Users take the role of Jim, a blue collar worker looking to make ends meat to support his wife and child. A series of inconsequential video logs help to provide context to the main character and the title held a number of cinematic sequences in the preview.

Jim can press start and view active quests in addition to a map of the current surroundings. In addition, Thermal Energy is now a currency that will allow users to upgrade their weaponry and is no longer required to survive the bitter temperatures of E.D.N. III.

At the core of the new installment is the use of the Utility Rig, which provides a brand-new, first-person combat perspective. Users can deploy a claw with a left trigger that can grab objects when a cursor is locked-on, or deploy a drill with the press of the right trigger. A quick right trigger press will swipe the drill, while a long press will initiate a direct drill toward an object.

Utility Rig mobility is heavy but held solid controls in movement and combat. Users can combat Akrid enemies with varied combinations, including the ability to grab enemies with the claw to drill them with precision.

In addition, players can use with the digital right trigger to defend or counter attack when a yellow prompt appears in the HUD. The developer said it may simplify the current counterattack option should timing prove to be too difficult. The rig has a life meter and when it depletes the user is forced to exit to allow the machine to recover.

The Utility Rig is dynamic and completely optional in the field. With a press of button, Jim can hop out of the rig to investigate areas or combat Akrid on foot. Third-person combat now yields a tighter camera perspective which allows for better aim. Default movement and aim controls were great and the closer perspective provided a more visceral experience. Like prior entries, the user can hold up to two weapons, a grenade sub-weapon, and utilize the grappling hook, though the latter seemed to be held for context specific situations. Finally, users can evade, or engage in some close quick time event combat with select Akrid by tapping a button to gain control, aiming with the right analog, then deploying a melee stab.

A drawback to the tighter camera is that it provided users with less sense of mobility when facing larger enemies like the giant Ice Crab.

New to the series are internal structures that must be explored on the planet. The preview build included a tight, dimly lit area full of narrow hallways and quick Akrid enemies. The structure added a bit of suspense and was a welcome alternative to the typically wide-open combat spaces found in the franchise.

The graphics engine was solid at 30 frames-per-second. The Unreal Engine 3 provided detailed interior and outdoor structures, with particular focus on lighting and shadow effects. Akrid have both insect and mammal-based inspiration, though the death animations could be more generous.

The developer did not detail the multiplayer modes to be found in the final game, though the current single-player campaign with a solo narrative does not look to include a co-op component. Should a co-op component be included it is likely to hold separate, non-campaign quests.

Lost Planet 3 is building to be a solid new entry in its early pre-E3 state. The flexibility of the Utility Rig combined with outdoor and tight indoor third-person combat should keep E.D.N. III heated when the title drops in 2013.

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