FAST PACED ROBOTIC MAYHEM
When someone mentions Kojima, instantly people would think of the legendary Metal Gear series. If you didn’t know, Kojima was also responsible for war-torn universe dominated by mech suits known as Oribital Frames. This is Zone of the Enders.
The Zone of the Enders HD Collection brings back the fast paced Mech combat from the PS2 in glorious HD format on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Included in the HD Collection is both games, the original which was released back in 2001 and The 2nd Runner, the sequel that was released in 2003. The problem with this pack is that the title that’s only worth playing is The 2nd Runner. Not saying you should skip the original, it’s just the gap between the two is quite significant. The 2nd Runner is just a better well-thought out game than the first but it wouldn’t be a collection without the original.
The original Zone of the Enders follows a young boy named Leo whose world came under attack by the evil forces named BAHRAM. When trying to escape the firefight, Leo stumbles into the cockpit of Oribital Frame “Jehuty”. Instead of fleeing away, Leo decides to fight using the Frame in order to save his colony from destruction.
If you didn’t know, Kojima games pack plenty of cut-scenes and Zone of the Enders is not shy of it. There’s a lot of dialogue and cutscenes with the original and it’s barely watchable with the character Leo. Luckily the cutscenes are skippable, so if you had it with Leo’s voice then glorious mech combat is only a button away.
The 2nd Runner however is the better of the Zone of the Enders series. The sequel is far superior in terms of story and dialogue plus there’s no more annoying kid whining into your ears. The cutscenes are presented in an anime style form, so it will keep you invested into the storyline than the previous which was mostly dated CGI. In The 2nd Runner, the story’s protagonist is far more tolerable. It follows Dingo, an ex-BAHRAM pilot who finds himself in the seat of the legendary ‘Jehuty’ after an attack on a mining colony. The attack which was led by BAHRAM left Dingo mortally wounded and the only way to survive is by clinging onto the Jehuty’s life support system.
The best part about Zone of the Enders is the combat and till this date, no other game has matched the fast paced action you’ve seen in the series. Prepare your thumbs as you’ll engage in ground to air combat using in your Orbital Frame as you face plenty of enemies. The Orbital Frame has two type of combat modes, range and melee. When at a distance, you can pepper your enemies with your cannon but up close, you”ll unleash a fury using your sword. Melee is the most effective way of defeating your foes quickly but easily opens you up to take more damage so you’ll need to balance between the two in order to accomplish the mission.
While combat is the overall the highlight of the series, the issues of the games were still presented in the HD Collection. The camera is still a pain to control and will guarantee motion sickness if played for prolonged hours. Targeting enemies will cause the camera to jump around rapidly and most times you’ll forget which way is up. The other issue I’ve found with the collection is the frame rate drops. While we welcome the HD upgrade for sharper more vibrant mech battle sequences, the framerate does drop during the heavier ‘there’s 20 missiles and lasers everywhere’ scenes. It’s not the biggest issue but may affect some veteran players.
As mentioned before, it’s not a collection without the original and unfortunately we have to deal with this. The 2nd Runner is the reason to pick up this collection. In every way, it’s the better piece out of the two. It’s not the perfect bundle but the 2nd Runner is just an underrated gem you wouldn’t want to miss.