More Movie than Game
Similar to Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders has a lot of cutscenes. The games follow a fairly standard explain, do, explain, do, story dynamic, which can make them hard to get into. Sadly this problem is only amplified by how different the two stories actually are.
The first game follows the tired, kid gets mech trope, as you might recall from Evangelion, Gundam and several others. After accidently discovering Jehuty (the mech), it turns out he is quite skilled and is ultimately tasked with bringing it back to the rightful owners. From here you will fight off a number of pilots, while also being reminded of the importance of life. After finally completing your task, the story basically sets up the events of another game.
Years after the first game, a new character named Dingo discovers Jehuty on a frozen planet and must finish what the first game started. Despite the two being linked together in this way, both games have very different tones / themes, so fans of one might not enjoy the other.
Fairly Bland Games
While Zone of the Enders has fantastic controls, the games are actually pretty boring as a whole. Whither you’re playing the first game or the second one, the variety is pretty sparse. Most of the time you will be fighting three generic types of enemies, which can be quickly eliminated by mindlessly rushing them. In the event this doesn’t work out, you can also run around firing lasers at them too. Sadly the game reinforces this method of play, since missions grade you off how much destruction you’ve done. Considering a stray bullet can topple a building, anyone looking for a good score will be heavily dependent on melee attacks.
Thankfully bosses are pretty resistant to direct combat, though you can usually defeat them with well-timed charged attacks. This will leave your subweapons largely useless, but certain attacks can completely dominate a boss. I defeated one boss (where you had to dodge her), by simply spamming gauntlet on her. This usually left her open for direct attacks and I defeated another by mindlessly firing comets. Since there isn’t a lot of skilled involved in combat, it starts to feel quite mindless / tedious to play.
Zone of the Enders is an interesting game, but the content isn’t there. You can finish the whole collection in roughly 10 hours and that’s if you’ve never played the games before. Sure the bump up to HD was nice, but there are some glitches and many of the cutscenes look unchanged. In the end, Zone of the Enders might have been better off as a PS2 Classic or just an arcade title. It’s quite hard to justify $40 dollars for two short and fairly forgettable games, so if you absolutely want to play them, wait for a sale.
[Editor’s Note: Zone of the Enders HD Collection was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Zone of the Enders HD Collection Review,