Lost Planet 3 is a prequel to the original Lost Planet: Extreme Condition game, which follows the story of Jim Peyton. Energy consumption crisis on Earth has caused to look for other resources, and NEVEC launched an expedition to the ice-cold frozen wastes of a planet called E.D.N. III to mine what seemed to be a unique type of resource in the known universe. Jim is part of that expedition, and while it pains him to have to be separated from his wife and new-born child for over a year in contract, it pays well and he will be able to provide for his family back home by assisting in mining the resource known as thermal energy.
But, Jim’s job extends to that of mining as E.D.N. III is anything but a friendly planet. When not mining and tending to repairs, he earns his pay by fighting various Akrid species, an indigenous life-forms that are swarming this barren place. One day, while diligently performing his duties, he will stumble on an old abandoned NEVEC base and ultimately find himself on the brink of death while fighting Akrids, only to be saved by unknown inhabitants of this planet. Was NEVEC already on this planet? What happened to the people of the “real” first expedition? And why was it kept secret? And who saved his life? The questions in Jim’s head won’t let him rest until he finds the truth behind it all and lead the plot toward the events that transpired in the original game.
While gameplay is similar to both prequels, it is more story-driven than mission-themed which makes it more alike the original game rather than the sequel. Battling Akrids is just as before, you can easily dispose of smaller ones, while boss battles require you to wait for them to reveal their weaknesses which is the glowing point beneath their husks. The game progresses as you complete main quests that move the story forward, but leave you with many side-quests which can earn you various bonuses.
Thermal energy is the main resource, and as such, the currency used in the game (unlike in previous two games where it was used as character’s health). When you are in your base, you can use gathered thermal points to buy new weapons or weapon upgrades like bigger ammo clips, pouches to carry more ammo, secondary more-destructive ammo, and such. The main source of thermal energy is what Akrids leave for you to pick up after you kill them.
Lost Planet 3 puts equal strength on both 3rd and 1st-person perspective. While you are on foot, you play in 3rd-person perspective as in previous two installments. You can fire, you can use grappling hook to descend or reach higher places, evade enemy attacks (there is no actual jumping in the game), and you can collect thermal energy. However, when you are driving your rig (a giant mech Jim uses for deep drilling and structural repairs), you are confined to 1st-person perspective. There are no health pick-ups, so you heal if you withdraw from the combat and lay low for a while. Your rig has basic set of moves like swinging with your left arm, defensive position, and drilling attacks, but all that can be upgraded as well. In order to upgrade your rig, you can exchange various parts you can find lying around somewhere, or you can buy them at the arms dealer. Some upgrades come as the story progresses, such as grappling hook which lets your rig extend his left arm and create a rope-way for you to ascend and can even be used to kill flying Akrids, or blow-torch.
Side-quests can be activated by talking to certain NPCs around the base which will usually require some fighting, but you’ll be rewarded with thermal energy or other means you can use to further enhance your combat skills. While on foot, Jim can also fix various broken things, including machine-gun turrets that can aid you in your fight against Akrid, or even your damaged rig in certain cases. Jim is a family guy, so he will often send his video messages to his wife and vice-versa which will provide some background info about the protagonist. Besides the pistol which comes with infinite ammo, you can carry only two other weapons, both of which come with limited ammo that needs to be replenished either by looting ammo boxes you stumble upon or from your rig that seems to be ever-so-well equipped.