Zone of the Enders HD Collection (2012) PlayStation 3 | Game Review

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Avatar for patientgamer9
2 years ago

You're a kid from the wrong side of town in ZOE 1 who stumbles into an Advanced Orbital Frame (so, mech then) named Jehuty while he's dodging fire from BAHRAM forces (other, nastier mechs). Once you're strapped in, Jehuty's AI ADA runs you through the basics of combat, which offer ranged and melee attacks to fire off rapidly or hold for a more powerful burst attack – there's also a mega-fun grab for when you're up close.

By the skin of its teeth, the game gives you a satisfactory array of approaches to any given fight: keep a distance and burst-fire foes to smithereens, or charge in and melee, but you soon find that with just three enemy types to contend with, none of whom require any particular tactic to beat, you hardly need to be General Patton while manning Jehuty.

At least there's a half-decent story in place to at least give you an idea /why/you're flying from grid to grid and clearing out butternut squash-shaped baddies. In time-honored Kojima tradition, there's a very distinct separation of exposition and action, the latter plunging you into a first-person view and filling your ears with near-future sci-fi. But while your purpose is clear, Zone Of The Enders doesn't sweat the details of how to achieve it as well as it should. Too often, you're reduced to revisiting locations and clearing out enemy Orbital Frames all over again because you weren't sure what you were supposed to do there the first time.

The repetition soon weighs heavy, and the HD update has done nothing to hide how unkind the years have been to the game's harsh lines and vectors – although it remains a great piece of sound design. Usually, we'd criticize a game for being short, but you feel like you've had your fill of Orbital Frames by the time the six-hour campaign concludes. Alone, it'd be a tough one to recommend to anyone coming in the cold without a spur of nostalgia to drive them through the endless battles.

Of course, it isn't alone. Zone Of The Enders: The 2nd Runner elevates this package considerably. It's prettier, more enjoyable, less repetitive, and altogether worth playing as a newcomer or an existing fan. This time, the visual style wears the series' comic-book heritage on its sleeve, the screen filling with smoke plumes and laser fire that makes combat feel so much more dangerous and exciting. Facing ten enemy types instead of three helps, too.

Combat controls are essentially the same, but now you've got four-hit combos to attempt, the final hit determining whether you throw your adversary sky-high or pull them back to you for more stabbing. Boss battles are more significant, more pulse-affecting events now, too, ramping the difficulty level right up to – but not entirely beyond – the limit.

Oddly for an HD remake, however, it doesn't run effortlessly. Multi-mech battles hurt the framerate, and that's a big deal for a game with such quick pacing. Most will be able to endure the stutter with enjoyment levels intact, though: it's odd rather than infuriating. Overall, an inconsistent, slightly flawed, but engaging compilation that provides a unique kind of gameplay and storyline that is difficult to find in a current release.

$ 1.59
$ 1.59 from @TheRandomRewarder
Avatar for patientgamer9
2 years ago