A frustrating but rewarding game which is what you can expect from the Hideo Kojima camp. With gameplay and graphics that have aged pretty well. This game is a must have for any Mecha/Anime fans.
Developer: Konami/High Voltage Software
Distributor: Ster Kinekor
For fans of: Mecha Anime
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7.5 / 10
What I liked
- Beautifully designed mechs
- Piloting Jehuty
Not so much
- Irritating lock on feature
- Leo’s voice
- No Japanese soundtrack
Gameplay and Features
The Zone of the Enders HD collection is made out of the two games, Zone of the Enders and Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner. In Zone of the Enders, you play as Leo Stenbuck, a kid (with a voice that will grate your very being) who lives on a space colony Antilia. At the beginning of the story, the colony becomes under attack by the organisation known as BAHRAM and Leo stumbles into an Orbital Frame named Jehuty. With the help of the suit’s on board A.I. ADA he learns to take control of the mecha and takes on the mission of returning Jehuti to the Earth Forces so they can use it against BAHRAM who wants Jehuty for themselves.
The first game takes place mostly on the space colony which is split up in to different sections. As you take control of Jehuty you navigate between these sections as the story progresses. Jehuty moves through the air seamlessly and at times you might forget that you are flying. But when you do realise this however, you get that amazing feeling of controlling a big robot rushing over you.
But, the game isn’t all about flying, and Jehuty is equipped with an energy sword and energy projectiles which you will mostly make use of as you are attacked by unmanned drones looking for trouble. Two weapons might not seems that much, but as you progress through the story you are able to collect multiple programs which enable Jehuty to make use of various sub weapons. These come in many forms, from powerful lasers to homing missiles. However, unlike your default weapons these use up your sub weapon energy so these need to be used sparingly and strategically. You are also able to use dash attacks which are stronger versions of your default attacks.
Your base weapons are controlled by one button as the distance from your target dictates whether you shoot or slash. The game has a lock on system keeping your target insight and also allowing you to switch between targets by pressing up or down on the right analog stick. The lock on system however will lock on to the enemy closest to you which might not always be the enemy you want to attack causing you to switch between targets. This can get a bit tedious at times though, but once you are locked on to a target there will be no stopping you as you slash through them.
The gameplay in this regard is very similar in both games with the second game having a few more sub weapons than the first. The two games also feature a VS mode where you and a friend can battle it out for top honours. The first game’s VS mode is very lacking, so you will probably be playing the second game’s VS mode more often. As you finish the game you unlock more characters and stages for this feature, giving you a reason to replay the game.
I found the first game a bit easy and finished it in between three and four hours. However the difficulty of the second game is a bit harder and left me with a couple of times where rage quitting felt like a good thing to do. However even as I replayed sections I never really got bored, as piloting Jehuty is just too much fun and just feels natural.
Speaking of the second game, you still pilot Jehuty but the pilot character is a much more likeable person named Dingo. An ex BAHRAM soldier with a bone to pick with Noham, the Pilot of the Orbital Frame Anubis, which is like Jehuty’s older, meaner brother.
Sound and Visuals
When I first saw Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner in 2003 I was blown away by the graphics. With the HD update the graphics have carried over very well and you can see each fine detail on each Orbital Frame as it goes flying past. The first game’s graphics are bit dated and there were one or two spots where I noticed some frame drops, but these were few and far between.
Same can be said for the sound. The voice acting of the first game is not the best and feels really awkward at times. Add to that the fact that you will learn to hate Leo every time he speaks, and you will realise why they went with another main character in the second game. The second game has much better voice acting and the scenes where Runners talk to each other are more visually entertaining.
Sadly, for those who are wondering, there are no Japanese voice options for either of the two games. This could have been a welcome addition and would have pleased the hearts of many fans.
The Zone of the Enders HD Collection is definitely a must have for fans of the series and also a welcome addition to any anime or mecha fans out there that wants to try out a true classic. Also if you factor in that this game is not that expensive (R290 is the most expensive price I have seen) and that it has the demo for the upcoming Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance game, I can’t see why this won’t be every gamer’s collection. Having missed out on this game the first time around, I am very glad this HD Collection exists.
Now bring on the third one already!
Read about our ratings here.