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Zone of the Enders (PlayStation 2) artwork

Zone of the Enders (PlayStation 2) review


"Imagine a situation wherein a group of terrorists captured, say, all of New York. With a small army of remote drones and actual soldiers, they don't sneak in, they flood in over the bridges and within minutes have control over the entire city. The situation is chaotic and fragile. People die, both intentional and unintentional deaths. Panic is widespread. The situation is...well, crazy, for the lack of a better word. "



Imagine a situation wherein a group of terrorists captured, say, all of New York. With a small army of remote drones and actual soldiers, they don't sneak in, they flood in over the bridges and within minutes have control over the entire city. The situation is chaotic and fragile. People die, both intentional and unintentional deaths. Panic is widespread. The situation is...well, crazy, for the lack of a better word.

Now imagine that the whole situation is rectified in four hours. Seems like a stretch, right? Well, that's Zone of the Enders in a nutshell.

To be fair, a big part of the reason that the invasion resolves so quickly is that this is a game about huge robots, and therefore, the best huge robot is the one your character unwittingly stumbles onto. From there it turns into the science fiction equivalent of a Die Hard film, where one character can take on odds well beyond the reach of any normal person because the plot demands it. It's hard for a small force to maintain a successful front line when every secret weapon they have is cut to steely ribbons by Jehuty in a matter of hours.

Even so, the game lacks longevity in the worst way. And while the conflict on the space colony that serves as the game's setting comes to an end, the conflicts raised as a result do not. The real tragedy is that the game is just starting to get interesting by the time it drops off. Just when the player is starting to feel some real compassion for ADA, the mech's on board assistant AI, and its budding understanding of self worth, the game is over. Right about the time the player is starting to be able to understand and sympathize with the main character, they're at the end.

The player is at the end, but none of the conflict itself is. It really feels like ZoE was meant to be just the first part of a much longer game. The feeling is only strengthened by the way the game dumps one of the most unsatisfying and startling cliffhangers of all time into your lap about as unceremoniously as a feline pet might leave you a dead rat.

On the bright side, this means that the game never wears out its welcome. It's hard to get bored of something that's so short, but unfortunately, that's not really a concern. The gameplay itself is well designed, and while some of the locales are starting to get bland by the time the curtain closes, that's because you've been on the same satellite the entire time. This gripe would be rectified by the change in scenery that would surely come at the end, when you leave the colony.

While it lasts, though, the game does most everything you ask it to do perfectly. The combat is fast paced, but even against multiple enemies, it's easy to keep track of the action. No other game comes anywhere close to pulling off the sort of dancing acrobatics that robots in anime of this genre display. Here, it's not only possible, but easy and consistent. There are a multitude of weapons to use, each of which is effective at different times. Not that you're really deadlocked into using them, there's plenty of room for improvisation, and that's a blast too.

But what's really impressive about the controls is that they're as natural as they are. Normally, games that take advantage of the third dimension in a deeper way than including a jump button can be jarring and confusing. However it's very intuitive in Zone of the Enders and with a little practice anyone can be spiralling through the sky as they see fit.

Sometimes if you ask someone what the worst part about something really great is, they'll answer in jest and say "It ends." Well, here, it's no joke. The game is over not before it starts, but after it just starts to get really good. It's almost as if the writers picked the worst possible moment to end the game, and just like that, what could have been one of the best experiences of its generation is just an afternoon of fun.

Rating: 6/10

dragoon_of_infinity's avatar
Community review by dragoon_of_infinity (December 22, 2007)

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