By Nick Statt

The sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions has generated an enormous amount of enduring hype since its E3 debut last year. When the release date was pushed back to May of this year, gamers became even more anxious to get their hands on the title. The only available taste of the game so far is the one–mission demo–maybe twenty minutes, tops, in length. Is it enough to earn Lost Planet II wait-in-line-at-midnight status? Not quite, but it’s close.

The demo mission revolves around you and up to three other players, via Xbox Live, battling an enormous creature from the original game, the Akrid of planet E.D.N. III. The first thirty seconds left me literally breathless as I completely disregarded learning the controls and watched the huge creature, known only as a Category G specimen, begin wreaking havoc in near-flawless graphic wonder. Equipped with a tentacle-wielding mouth and six enormous glowing legs, the insect-rhino as large as a skyscraper was about as close to a perfect pick for a demo boss fight as developer Capcom could have managed.

As you and your partners swing into battle, it’s easy to see that Lost Planet II has addressed many of the previous installment’s flaws. Movement is more fluid and weapon control/exchange is quicker and easier. One of the series’ biggest perks, the mech-based fighting, now includes co-op ready robots, for multiple players to work together in one big robot suit. After three failed tries, my team finally managed to defeat the Category G creature. As I watched its flesh melt into the water of the valley, I decided that I had to buy this game when it hits stores May 18.