[Review] Zone of the Enders HD Collection

ESRB:M
ONLINE:No [2 Player Local Versus Mode in both titles]
INSTALL:No
RELEASE DATE:October 31, 2012 [PS3/360]
PLATFORM:Playstation 3, Xbox 360
PUBLISHER:Konami
DEVELOPER:Kojima Productions/High Voltage Software
ONLINE PASS:

Story

Zone of the Enders

“AD 2172. A military raid, under the command of BAHRAM’s Commander Nohman, is carried out on Antilia, a space colony orbiting Jupiter. The objective of the raid is to retrieve 2 orbital frames from the colony. After watching his friends be taken captive and later crushed under a battle damaged LEV, a small boy named Leo Stenbuck runs for his life. He takes refuge in a hangar for orbital frames and accidentally falls into Jehuty, activating the frame.

After escaping the hangar, ADA patches through a transmission from Elena Weinberg of the civilian transport vessel, Atlantis. She pleads with Leo to carry out the mission assigned to Jehuty and the frame’s designated pilot, Alan, who is missing in action. The mission is to deliver orbital frame Jehuty to Atlantis’ base on Mars, in preparation for battle.

Jehuty underwent a complete system overhaul before the events of Zone of the Enders. The most important addition to the frame was the advanced on-board battle computer, ADA. Due to the overhaul, Jehuty is left with minimal system capabilities.

Viola, runner of Type C Orbital Frame “Neith”, becomes a fierce rival to both Leo and Jehuty leading to several heated confrontations through-out the course of the game. Viola is part of the BAHRAM forces sent to retrieve Jehuty and the second orbital frame, Anubis.”

Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner

“Two years after the events of Zone of the Enders, former BAHRAM pilot Dingo Egret is mining for ice on Callisto, one of the moons of Jupiter. When he detects indications of Metatron, Dingo investigates, discovering a container with Orbital Frame Jehuty hidden inside of it. The military force BAHRAM, after the frame, launches an attack on Callisto — leaving Dingo with no other option but to use Jehuty to fight off the attacking BAHRAM forces.

The battle leads Dingo and Jehuty inside a massive BAHRAM battleship, where Jehuty is subdued by its much more advanced twin frame, Anubis. Running Anubis is Nohman, Dingo’s former commander, and the man responsible for the death of Dingo’s comrades.

The situation on Mars has changed drastically since the events that took place during the Antilia raid. BAHRAM’s war potential has increased dramatically, with the Space Force virtually powerless against the threat. Siding with the Space Force while unaware of ADA’s mission to self-destruct Jehuty at the core of Aumaan, Dingo, using Jehuty, sets out to take down BAHRAM and their base of operations.”

The story of this series isn’t the best I’ve ever seen. Like Kojima’s other work, it’s a good bit convoluted and even a little confusing at times. It’s also not quite as well written as his other, more well known series Metal Gear Solid. It’s not exactly the high point of the series.

That said, it serves it’s purpose well enough – giving you a reason to pilot a giant mech and lay waste to any enemy that stands in your way.

Presentation

Zone of the Enders – The game looks absolutely amazing. The framerate is buttery smooth, and it’s surprising what this game was really pumping out on the PS2. The mechs look good, bosses are gigantic, and the effects that accompany attacks and explosions are really nice. I especially like Jehuty’s boosters.

The CG cutscenes are a bit dated looking, but not terrible. They could have been cleaned up a bit more, though. They seem a bit blurry.

Locales, on the other hand, aren’t exactly varied – most places kind of feel the same up until the end game, and it can be a little difficult to tell where you are because of this.

Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner – This game, I’m sad to say, didn’t fare as well. The framerate is pretty shoddy, and there’s often slow down in some of the more hectic battles. It’s never anything that can really effect your gameplay, but it’s very noticeable after playing the first title and witnessing it’s blazing fast framerate.

Aside from the framerate, which I hope gets patched soon, ZoE2 [Titled “Anubis: Zone of the Enders” in the UK/JP] looks great. It’s amazing the PS2 was even capable of a game like this, with upwards of 30-40 enemies capable of being on the screen at any given time. Not to mention all the projectiles and explosions at the same time.

The cutscenes went from CG to an anime style, and it’s a nice change – the cutscenes themselves are good looking, and pretty sharp. I also really like the semi cel shaded look of the game, it fits nicely.

Locales are also MUCH more varied. Ranging from frozen tundras, to a large space vortex. They are also very bright and colorful, and just look great.

The voice acting in both games leaves a bit to be desired. It’s a little cheesy at times, ZoE2 especially – which suffers from somewhat incoherent dialogue at times.

The soundtracks, on the other hand, are amazing. This is some of Norihiko Hibino’s best work, next to his work on the Metal Gear titles. Frankly, the man deserves more credit than he gets in most cases.

Gameplay

This is my favorite part of the series. Both games play pretty much the same. You pilot Jehuty, a large mech [Called “Orbital Frames” in game], equipped with a multitude of weapons, and an energy sword for close quarters battles.

The attacks you use are based on your distance from the opponent. At long range, you fire small shots at the enemy you are locked onto. At close range, you slash at the enemy with your sword for a 4 hit, powerful combo.

Attacks are handled with the Square/X button. You can also grab with the Circle/B button. Triangle/Y and Cross/A handle Jehuty’s Ascent and Descent, respectively.

R2/RT is your Dash/”Burst” button. Burst being a means of unleashing powerful attacks – at a distance, you charge up a ball of energy that then gets shot at the enemy. At close range, you unleash a powerful spinning slash against any enemies within range. Dashing allows you to evade attacks as well as giving Jehuty even more attacks of it’s own. At long range, it’s a group of homing lasers [In ZoE2, the longer you hold down Square/X, the more lasers are fired – they also lock on to multiple enemies.]. At close range, it’s a dashing slash.

R1/RB is your Guard button. Pretty straightforward.

L2/LT is your lock-on button. Press it repeatedly to cycle through your targets [In ZoE2, this is also achieved with the right stick], press L1/LB in ZoE1 to release the Lock-On, hold L2/LT in ZoE2 to do the same.

L1/LB in ZoE2 switches between the default “Grab” subweapon, and the last equipped subweapon. Subweapons are special weapons that give you more options for attack and defense. In ZoE1, these have a simple ammo count, and the ammo is different for each weapon. You gain ammo from item boxes around the different maps, or from enemies after defeating them.

In ZoE2, you have a “Sub Gauge”, which acts as your ammo for all of your subweapons and Burst/Dash attacks [For example, Homing Lasers use the sub gauge now, and if it’s depleted, only the minimum amount of lasers will be fired. Other weapons just won’t work if it runs out.]. It’s replenished by defeating enemies, picking up sub-gauge refill item boxes, or by defeating enemies marked with a “SUB” icon.

Both games have multiple difficulties, ranging from Easy to “Oh God why did I choose this” Extreme.

ZoE 1 features rescue missions that act as side missions – you don’t need to complete them, but doing so will improve your overall completion rating. There are a total of 5 of them.

ZoE2 features 2 similar missions, but they are actually part of the main story. Both missions require you to protect specific targets, and are quite challenging.

ZoE1 features a sort of “Overworld” map where you can travel between locations, and revisit areas you’ve completed to get items/ammo and just work on leveling up Jehuty a bit. Areas are labeled in different colors – Blue is the place you need to be, Green is a place you’ve been, and Orange marks an SOS Rescue mission.

The map makes the game feel a bit more open, but is otherwise unnecessary.

ZoE2 ditches that in favor of a more streamlined approach – you go from mission to mission, but there’s no real “break” in between them. It’s much more concise, and flows much better.

Replay Value

Replay value varies depending on the title. The collection as a whole doesn’t offer anything extra. No extra galleries, nothing.

Both games feature a Versus mode, but they are both local only – no online play. It’s also a little disorienting to play, as you both share the same screen at once.

ZoE1’s replay value pretty much ends there. There are two endings to the game depending on if you save the survivors in the rescue missions, or let them all die, but that’s about it.

Finishing the game a second time, by loading up your completion data and playing the final mission again, also unlocks the last few Orbital Frames and stages for Versus mode.

ZoE2 has much more replay value. It features an “Extra Missions” mode, which is just like the VR Missions from Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance. There are 20 of them, 5 missions per Version of Jehuty. These are challenges that usually involve defeating enemies under specific conditions [Such as using only one kind of attack, or having limited health]

These missions also must be found throughout the game – they aren’t unlocked just by beating it.

The Versus mode Frames in this game are also a bit trickier to unlock. Most are earned by just completing the game, the rest are unlocked by completing specific tasks in the main game – such as defeating certain enemies within a certain time frame.

Both games feature Trophies/Achievements. ZoE1 is fairly simple and straight forward, ZoE2 is a bit harder, but not impossible. This HD Collection is much easier to Platinum/100% than it’s Metal Gear counter part.

Overall

Overall, I recommend this collection for fans of the originals, as well as for anyone who may have been interested in the games but never got to play them.

ZoE1 was ported amazingly, and holds up very well. ZoE2 mars the collection just a bit with a shoddy framerate, but holds up well otherwise.

While not nearly as much content as the MGS HD Collection [After all, it was a 5 game collection], what’s here will last a good while, and both of the games are really, really fun to play.

Here’s hoping that this means that Zone of the Enders 3 isn’t far off.

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PROS CONS
  • ZoE 1 and 2 in stunning HD.
  • Recent patch made ZoE2 look much, much better.
  • Not a ton of content in the collection.
  • Multiplayer is limited to local only - and the camera for it is a bit wonky.
  • Story is, honestly, a bit doofy.
  • FINAL VERDICT
    Click here or on the verdict image to the left for full disclosure of what these ratings mean!

    About James Headrick

    James is an aspiring game reviewer that plays primarily on the Playstation 3 & 4. He also works freelance as a graphic designer, doing print and branding based design.
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