Zone of the Enders HD Collection

6 Overall Score
ZoE 1: 3/10
ZoE 2: 8/10
Nostalgia: 7/10

The Second Runner I Frantic Combat

First Zone of the Enders I Frame Rate Issues

Written by on November 24, 2012 in [, , , ]

The problem with nostalgia is that sometimes it doesn’t adequately prepare you for what happens when faced with the reality of how bad something was. Zone of the Enders HD Collection actually does a really good job of proving that point.

Zone of the Enders has a pretty laughable premise. You play through the game as a scared kid by the name of Leo who stumbles upon a robot of doom called an Orbital Frame. Frightened and being attacked, Leo destroys several enemies with the help of the Frame’s AI named ADA. Being a kid, Leo is understandably shaken by the fact that he just killed a whole bunch of folks and decides that he is going to avoid attacking as much as possible.

The kid discovers that Jehuty, which is the name of the Frame itself, was scheduled to be delivered to Mars for a battle and is asked by the shipping company to deliver it for them.

This all seems straight forward enough. Well, straight forward if you have no problem believing that a shipper would hire a minor to drive their vehicle of death for them. Specifically, a minor without experience or training and that is literally having a mental breakdown after murdering a half dozen people. I’m sure FedEx has the same policy when faced with this situation.

The good news is that battle in the world of ZoE is satisfying. With intuitive controls that help you surround your enemies and unleash varied attacks, combat is the real highlight of ZoE, but you never feel like the game ever lets you use it to its full potential.

The game tries to be non-linear as it drops you in a vague world with different areas highlighted throughout that you can go to. Each area looks nearly identical with burning buildings that all look like the Contemporary Resort at Disney World. The landscape is much too dark and has an awful draw distance that is only worsened by the game’s newfound HD.

Once you dive into Leo’s story, you will be challenged to read the minds of the game’s creators as they give you a vague idea of how to progress, but then hope you figure out which of the areas you have to go back to in order to solve the “puzzles” that you are faced with.

As an example of how insane the game’s leaps of logic are, at one point you will be plopped into an unwinnable boss battle, but you have to figure out on your own that any attack is pointless. I assume that the developer hopes that you get frustrated enough to leave the area so that ADA can explain to you that you need to find a specific weapon to defeat the guy. Even when armed with this knowledge, the game becomes a bit of trial and error as you have to backtrack and figure out where you can find the weapon, and what very specific steps need to be taken to retrieve it.

What results is a repetitive, un-fun mess that is frustrating in its absurdity.

I had very low expectations when I fired up the other game included in the collection, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner due to my experience with the first one. Right from the get-go, everything in The 2nd Runner seemed better than expected as we meet up with our protagonist, the unfortunately named Dingo. While investigating an unusually large deposit of Metatron (the power source for Orbital Frames) he discovers Jehuty in the subzero wasteland where he works. Before you can say, “Well, this is a huge coincidence,” the bad guys show up to claim the Frame. Dingo, having a history with piloting frames, saves his coworkers and is shot for his troubles. In an Iron Man-like turn of events, Dingo can stay alive as long as he is in Jehuty and agrees to help the woman who saved his life, the mysterious Ken.

The 2nd Runner fixes nearly every criticism thrown at the first game. The battles are more epic and feel less random. The missions make more contextual sense and are more varied. The boss battles are satisfying. The story is more engaging and is told with gorgeous animated cut scenes that never seem out of place.

The game just makes you feel like you are an unstoppable robotic killing machine; something that the first never even pretended to do.

This is not to say that the second game is without its faults.

While the controls are better in 2nd Runner and you have more capabilities with Jehuty, it becomes really hard to maneuver in some levels, especially while simultaneously trying to lock on to enemies. Some sections stutter with the intense action. You can be fighting dozens of enemies at the same time and nothing puts a damper on an insane combo than things slowing down due to frame rate issues. The thing that was almost a deal breaker for me was the fact that there are some escort missions in the game where you literally have to carry the people you are supporting thorough the level. Thankfully, the characters can take a lot of damage and the sections are relatively short.

All said, I would definitely recommend picking up Zone of the Enders HD Collection. Just come in with the understanding that you are going to enjoy merely half of what you are getting.

A copy of Zone of the Enders: HD Collection was provided to The Married Gamers for review.


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Author: Wallace Phelps View all posts by

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