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Zone of the Enders (PlayStation 2) artwork

Zone of the Enders (PlayStation 2) review

"Its the game everybody had to buy to play Metal Gear Solid 2 in its minute demo form. Hideo Kojima's big robot basher is pretty and very well structered. Its also horribly short- I completed it in 5 and a half hours over a period of one Saturday night and a all day today- and sports a disapointingly abrupt ending. "

Its the game everybody had to buy to play Metal Gear Solid 2 in its minute demo form. Hideo Kojima's big robot basher is pretty and very well structered. Its also horribly short- I completed it in 5 and a half hours over a period of one Saturday night and a all day today- and sports a disapointingly abrupt ending.

Zone of the Enders deal with a mysterious group who assault the space colony Antilla, which orbits Jupiter in the year 2172. The group wants he orbital Frame Jehuty- orbtial Frame being big giant robot. Enter afraid kid Leo Stenbuck, an abandoned child who after seeing his friends killed attempts to escape the carnage and stumbles into Jehuty's cockpit.

After ripping through some inaimate robots and reaching the colony's surface Jehuty and Leo crosses paths with a redhead named Viola and her frame, Neith, determined to get a hold of Jehuty. Leo soon gets a message from Elena a possible member of an apparent rebel group who need Jehuty for a battle against the same group Viola is a part of on Mars.

The limited edition of ZOE in Japan actually included a half hour anime movie of sorts that lays out the groundwork for the game, but of course we didn't get it so you're sort of left dropped into the middle of all of this.

At the offset ZOE proves to be an incredible effort though. The CG is amazing and the in game graphics do 2 things: 1) Proves that Konami has figured out something with the PS2 hardware no one else has figured out. 2) Hint at the graphic horsepower and true potiential of Sony's black box. The game is, unfortunately to some, dubbed- the original Japanese cast replaced by a competent American cast that sounds really odd using freshly translated dialogue.

Gameplay is setup rather simply and effectively. Jehuty floats around sort of floats on an axis. Triangle and X changes Jehuty's elevation while R2 lets him dash, L2 lock on enemies, L1 unlock and circle and square attack and grab and throw. ZOE isn't as complex or as intricate when compared to the other big giant stomper on PS2, Armored Core, but its just as enthralling and actually superior in its elements.

Missions are laid out on an overworld map- each area is populated with enemies and each level serves a different objective. A mission within a factory has Jehuty having to get a disc that adds a new weapon or to find an antidote program to clean ADA, Jehuty's central computer program and one, in typical anime fashion, ponders over Leo's behavior and the overall human condition. Other levels consist of grapping a hold of a sniper rife to knock out a central core engine that produces a force field that blocks your way to taking a control of an enemy ''raptor''- one of the games indiscriminate robots you pound away on- to break into an area to destroy an engine that powers a satellite which is bouncing back that force field that blocks you earlier. Later that ''raptor'' will be killed in a later mission to get a program that detects enemies in stealth mode.

ZOE also sports ''SOS'' levels. You enter into a city with survivors and enemies targeted on buildings with survivors. The goal to complete the missions is to get a high grade on each one- determined by the percentage of survivors and buildings. The grades play into the end of the game and allows for 2 things: a versus mode much like Virtua On and an alternate ending.

Zone of the Enders is best described as a flawed masterpiece. You grow a connection to Leo and the few others that come into play, but just when the game seems to be ready to take off it ends leaving you to wonder. The opens itself up for a sequel so there's always hope. But as a game it is nonetheless a brillantly made effort. It plays well all the way around and consistently looks pretty. Very pretty. The game doesn't abuse the PS2 hardware's nifty blur effects. The models never really look jaggy. Its a real technical achievement on still adimtedly young hardware, and it still goes recommended. In the 5 hours I played I had a better time with ZOE than I have had with anything else on PS2 so far (with the exception of Ring of Red which I'll review someday). Zone of the Enders is a game that stands on its own and proves worth picking up even if Solid Snake and his solid mullet wasn't included.

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