Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360.
Reviewed by: Brady Ruiters
Hideo Kojima is probably known mostly for his work on the Metal Gear Series. However, he has also worked on a few other games, including the Zone of the Enders Series, a series that became a bit of a cult classic among gamers. With the third game in the series currently being in development, the Zone of the Enders HD Collection couldn’t have been released at a better time.
Zone of the Enders follows the story of Leo Stenbeck, a young boy caught up in conflict when his home on the Jupiter colony, Antilia comes under attack by the BAHRAM army. While trying to find shelter from the conflict, Leo hides inside a hangar and stumbles upon an Orbital Frame by the name of Jehuty. Leo enters the mech and is forced to defend himself from the other frames attacking the colony. Due to his prowess in handling Jehuty, Leo is contacted by Elena Weinberg, commander of the civilian transport vessel, the Atlantis. Leo is then forced into the conflict in order to deliver Jehuty to the transport vessel. However, the mission is not as simple as it sounds.
Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner follows a new protagonist by the name of Dingo Egret, a former BAHRAM pilot working at a mining facility on Callisto. He inadvertently discovers Jehuty, the Orbital Frame that was hidden there by Leo, the protagonist from the first game. After discovering the frame, Dingo is attacked by BAHRAM forces that have come looking for Jehuty. Dingo is then mortally wounded by the BAHRAM leader, Nohman but is revived and bonded with Jehuty in order to survive. Our hero then sets his sights on Nohman in order to settle the score.
The stories in both games are rather simple in their execution as there isn’t really anything groundbreaking as far as storytelling goes. However, I preferred the protagonist in The 2nd Runner as I found Leo to be a little too whiny while playing Zone of the Enders. Dingo just seems a little more likeable.
Where the story seems to be a bit of a let-down, the gameplay is where these games shine. Gameplay is a mixture of a Third-Person Shooter and Hack ‘n Slash. The awesome part about it is that all this is done with a huge mech. Players take control of the Orbital Frame, Jehuty to dish out some robot on robot combat. Initially, Jehuty has two attacks at its disposal; energy projectiles and a sword. These attacks can be strengthened by first doing a dash manoeuvre. There are also a number of sub weapons that can be found in the games but these weapons are limited so they have to be used sparingly. Combat is usually a high-speed affair with dodging being necessary in order to evade enemy attacks or to close the gap between Jehuty and the enemy.
The lock-on system in the game can be a little annoying at times. Once a battle has been intitated, Jehuty will lock onto the closest enemy. This can be problematic because most of the time, the locked-on enemy isn’t the one that the player was initially gunning for, resulting in the player cycling between different targets while avoiding getting hit by attacks. It can become rather frustrating at times.
The first game is pretty easy and can probably be completed within a few hours despite the large amount of backtracking. The 2nd Runner however, is a lot less repetitive and provides more of a challenge. It also has more memorable moments than the first game and seems to be faster where combat is concerned.
Zone of the Enders is the older of the two and its age shows. There were also a few frame rate drops which I didn’t really find in the sequel. The HD makeover works rather well for The 2nd Runner as the visuals are much smoother and looks good from start to finish. Cutscenes look as they’ve been taken from an anime series.
Audio isn’t really bad when it comes to the soundtrack or sound effects but the voice acting in the first game borders on terrible and can sometimes feel like an effort just to sit through the cutscenes. Thankfully the formula was changed when it came to The 2ndRunner as the voice acting sounds a lot better and isn’t such a struggle to sit through.
The Zone of the Enders HD Collection isn’t the greatest collection I’ve had the pleasure of playing but it gave me the chance to play the two games in the series that I was unable to play when I had a PS2. It’s a nice chance for those who never experienced it to actually get some hands-on time with these games and for long-time fans of the series, it’s an opportunity to experience the games with an HD makeover. As an added bonus, the collection also has a demo for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
Predominantly reviewed on PlayStation 3