While we wait for the third instalment in the Zone of the Enders series (if it’s ever coming, that is), Konami and Kojima Productions has been gracious enough to give us the Zone of the Enders HD Collection for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
For those unfamiliar, the ZoE series is very much a cult classic among PlayStation gamers. Now, with the series reaching Xbox 360 gamers, more people can get enthralled in this incredible title. Made up of both the first title of the pair as well as The 2nd Runner, it’s worth noting that there is a demo of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance included on both versions of the disc.
But what is to be said of the original games?
First off, the Xbox 360 versions dons achievements (a full 1000 points) as well as a full set of trophies for the PlayStation 3. This might not be the first thing you think of when thinking of a game like this, but it is all too common for developers to leave out achievement and trophy support on games that are re-releases of titles that didn’t debut within this console generation.
With that said, there are still more reasons than achievements and trophies to keep coming back and playing more.
This collection is subtitled ‘HD‘, as is somewhat necessary in this day and age, and we found the graphics pretty stunning considering the games are over a decade old. When thinking about a game like this, you often look back with rose-coloured glasses and can’t fathom a single pixel being out of place. Yet, when we looked back, while we noticed a few jaggies and some unsightly lines in some parts of the games, it held up remarkably well. The games have always looked good, and with the high definition uptick in visuals, we know why we’re not disappointed this time around either.
While the game does look stunning, the framerate on the Xbox 360 took a serious hit when we popped in The 2nd Runner and had a lot going on at once. The visuals are excellent, as they would be in a Kojima game, but they’re hindered by some pretty unsightly lag.
The story in both games is nothing to scoff at, either. The original title, Zone of the Enders, actually released as a launch title for the PlayStation 2. It takes place in space (duh) and requires you to colonize other planets. Your main source of energy, metatron ore, is the focus of an energy war. You then take control of Leo, who is tasked with controlling a massive mech and ridding the world of its foes in the energy crisis. It’s rather spooky how much this relates to real life now with the oil wars we have going on in real life. Minus the mechs, of course, although how cool would that be?!
The second title, The 2nd Runner take place a short while after the original title and you command rather comically-named Dingo and his, you guessed it, mech. The sequel to the original ZoE is actually more about avenging your fellow soldiers’ deaths who were killed by a terrorist group.
Considering the simplicity of the stories, there is actually a varied complexity within them. For example, the group you’re fighting against in The 2nd Runner is actually after the suit that Dingo controls, so while he is out to kill them, they’re trying to get that technology for themselves. The stories are pretty memorable, but you’ll need to fancy lots of dialogue to really be able to stomach both games (especially if you’re planning on playing them back-to-back). Of course, if that’s your thing, you’ll be enthralled in these games for a while.
Hideo Kojima’s games tend to revolve around creating unique aspects of gameplay, whether it be controls, story, or original (and in the case of Metal Gear Solid 4, looooong) cinematics. The Zone of the Enders series is no different. It’s not uncommon in games to control a mech of some sort (heck, even Halo 4 has the Mantis), but to be doing it at such high speeds and with swords as well as guns is what makes these games a real treat. The overall gameplay actually reminds us of a mix of Panzer Dragoon Orta for the original Xbox and just about any fighting game you’ve ever played in your life.
No, gameplay isn’t the most polished on the planet, but we are talking about a pre-Halo game here, not to mention the fact that it was built for a console over eleven years ago. Given that, it holds up pretty well, but leaves some little things to be desired. While The 2nd Runner expanded on the control scheme and introduced new mechanics, there is nothing so deep in the gameplay that it’ll keep you glued to the game forever.
As a rule, we don’t buy into remastered collections unless we’re really huge fans of the series. A title like Zone of the Enders is probably not going to make you a Kojima or ZoE fan if you’re not already one of them. With that said, if you are, and you need a good excuse to experience the games again (or because your PlayStation 2 broke), Zone of the Enders HD Collection is right up your alley and worth picking up.