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Zone of the Enders (PlayStation 2) artwork

Zone of the Enders (PlayStation 2) review


"To begin this review, I'll indulge you in an anecdote, as I like subjecting my readers to them. I originally purchased this game entirely for the demo of Metal Gear Solid 2 that was bundled with it. I couldn't have cared less about the Zone of the Enders, I was more concerned with the sequel to which was arguably the best PlayStation game of all time (and as far as gameplay is concerned, MGS 2 will probably end up being arguably one of the best PS2 games of all time). Fortun..."



To begin this review, I'll indulge you in an anecdote, as I like subjecting my readers to them. I originally purchased this game entirely for the demo of Metal Gear Solid 2 that was bundled with it. I couldn't have cared less about the Zone of the Enders, I was more concerned with the sequel to which was arguably the best PlayStation game of all time (and as far as gameplay is concerned, MGS 2 will probably end up being arguably one of the best PS2 games of all time). Fortunately, I wasnít one of the poor saps who purchased it for full price, but I can honestly say that I spent more than twenty dollars for a demo disc.

The demo was quickly over though, and I figured it was time to give ZotE a spin in my PS2. As the game booted up and I got to the menu, I was greeted with eerie and haunting musical piece that I just sat and listened to. And today, when I booted up the game for the first time in over a year, I can say that it still sent a chill down my spine. I donít know what it is about the shrill voice of Japanese singers that I find so enjoyable, but Iíll be damned if Iíve heard many better songs in a video game, even if it doesnít really fit the tone of the game and none of the other songs compare.

The storyline is your typical action-shooter style: itís the 22nd century, and the world has changed. Mankind has spread throughout the galaxy lie a virus, and has made colonies on Jupiter and Mars. The exciting and euphoric feeling of success is ultimately met with a feeling of fear and disillusion as the Jupiter colony Antillia is attacked by an unknown force that wants us to get the hell out of there. But of course it wouldnít be any kind of a story without angst thrown into the works, so just prior to the assault on Antillia, a small boy named Leo is being picked on by some of his friends. The little **** decides to say something as ominous as ďif they just werenít around I wouldnít be picked on anymore,Ē and almost as soon as the words leave his pie hole, his friends are completely obliterated and heís left feeling scared, alone, and ultimately responsible for his friend's deaths. Just as you yourself would, he runs from the scene and stumbles onto a war machine called a Jehuty (which is basically a giant mech) and he climes aboard.

The plot can be tossed out into the bitter cold of space after that, because from the get go, itís dry and uninteresting. Further added into the plot is Leo's believed loss of his father, dealing with killing other people, the defense of the Mars colonies, and the necessary love interest. Perhaps the storyline would have been saved with some more original ideas and better voice acting along the way to narrate it, but the gameís gorgeous graphics and entertaining (though repetitive) gameplay arenít enough to distract you from the blatant plot flaws.

Playing ZotE is fortunately much easier than a lot of the mech games Iíve played in the past. The cumbersome controls that usually plague games in the genre were tossed aside in favor of a smoother, faster set. There are two attack buttons that vary based on distance from the target, and two buttons to raise Jehuty up and down. Youíve got a boost button and a shield button, and with the analog stick for movement, you can do almost any move you want. Not once did I have a problem with moving around the games environments, and itís honestly fun just zipping around and exploring the different areas. The areas are decent, but they're somewhat small and use a lot of the same textures, which are surprisingly bland and repetitive. Also, I didnít like the desolate feeling of the world map. Thereís a gigantic world map you can openly explore, but thereís nothing on it, except for basically what could be called markers that you can use to access the smaller areas you do your business in. I would have liked to have seen more development of it both the areas and the world map, but it didnít happen.

ZotE is also much shorter than other mech games. While the addition of a multiplayer battle mode is a decent way to add time to the game, the single player mode (the one youíll actually be concerned with), is over pretty fast. What is ultimately saddening is that by three hours out of the grand total of about five is that the game starts to feel repetitive. Honestly though, itís the overwhelmingly badass boss battles that carry you on through the game. With frantic shooting similar to that found in old-school shooters like R-Type, the game reminds me less of an action game and more of a side-scrolling shooter of yesteryear. Fortunately (at least for me), the game isnít nearly as challenging as those impossible games from the past.

Graphically, ZotE features some of the best graphics on the PS2 not found on the demo disc thatís bundled with it. There are only two companies in the world that can truly ''do'' PS2 graphics, and they're Konami and Square-Enix. Jehuty itself is painstakingly well animated to the point of almost overkill, as energy visibly flows along the frame, highlighting every nut and bolt. The enemy models, though ultimately not as well done, are unique in design and seem straight out of science fiction movies. Gigantic pot-type enemies shoot multi-colored bullets at you while random Jehuty-lite enemies perform a swift ballet of motion around you in an effort to flank you.

But itís the frightening bosses I mentioned earlier that truly show the beauty of ZotE. They bosses are as well designed as Jehuty, but on a more epic scale, as some of them tower four to five times higher than our hero. The monstrosities are loaded with moving parts and randomly firing weapons, and thereís never any slowdown to gunk up the works. However, distorting the intense graphical effects is underwhelming sounds and voice acting. Youíll hear the same sound effects over and over again, and the voice acting is so emotionless and dull you wonít even bother to pay attention to half of the storyline. Besides the opening score, most of the in game music is weak and bland.

Overall, ZotE is fun because itís short and entertaining, but you wonít get much out of the game in the long run. However, youíre in for some exciting mechanized gameplay with top notch graphics and killer boss battles if you do decide to take the plunge. I canít say I whole-heartedly suggest picking up the game, but itís one that wonít ruin the reputation of your PS2 collection.

Rating: 6.9/10

asherdeus's avatar
Community review by asherdeus (January 26, 2004)

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