"Anime fans are going to love this game"
Hideo Kojima, a name you may know from the Metal Gear franchise has a budding new franchise in the Zone of the Enders series. Whilst the original game didn't receive the acclaim like other titles from the famed producer, he went back to the drawing board and created ZOE 2, one of the most action packed, stylish and intense games on the Playstation 2 to date.
Zone of the Enders 2 is broken into two storylines; the prologue and the main story. In the prologue you work as a basic miner walking through an area before stumbling across an unknown building. From there the main character will encounter an old friend who tries to kill our hero, but he is saved by a spy from the Space Force. You play as Dingo Egrit, and after the attempted murder his injuries are so bad that he must rely on an orbital frame known as Jehuty to survive. Because of this he must follow and carry out missions given to him by the Space Force spy. The story is set in the year 2174 and the BAHRAM corporation are taking over planets, its up to you and the Space Force to stop them.
Zone of the Enders 2 is a third person action game which can become repetitive after a while. For most of the storyline you will be guiding Jehuty around belting the living daylights out of either bug-like creatures or other orbital frames. However, the style in which the game is displayed makes you almost completely forget that fact. There are two ways to attack enemies, either with your guns or in melee combat. In melee combat, once you get close enough to a swarm of enemies, you can hit them in a continuous fashion, racking up a combo in a way which mimics games such as Street Fighter II. Although racking up a combo has minimal effects or reward on the mechanics of the game, it does look incredibly cool.
Jehuty is one of the best orbital frames available, only one is more powerful and that is Anubis. Controlling Jehuty, you will be able to use your default sword, produce powerful attacks and manoeuvre in fluid manner. However, at times this will not be enough to defeat the enemies. Some can only be defeated in a particular manner. Jehuty also has the ability to pick up objects from the environment and either use them as weapons or throw them at the enemies. An in-depth tutorial is included for all Jehutys' abilities such as throwing enemies at the wall and other special moves.
The main problem with Zone of the Enders 2 is that it is quite repetitive. At the bare bones the game consists of moving from area to area and defeating enemies with an occasional boss fight. As the storyline is so enthralling, it isn't a fatal blow to the game but if you don't have the time or patience for games similar to this then stay well away. The other problem is the way some areas of the game are structured. For instance in one area near the beginning of the game, an enemy frame will defeat you easily. However this is part of the storyline. The fact that you think you have to beat this machine as opposed to just let it kill your frame to progress in the storyline is another flaw, and can be quite annoying.
Due to the mammoth wait for the NTSC to PAL conversion, the developers have added brand new features to the PAL edition of the game. The first new feature is a brand new (very long ) introduction, set to some JPOP techno music. This introduction is absolutely stunning, but contains a lot of spoilers from the CG scenes in the game. One other addition is the ability to watch a video based on the storyline from the original game. So if you haven't played the original fear not because this movie explains everything.
The AI featured in Zone of the Enders 2 is a mixed bag. Some of the enemies are incredibly hard to defeat (mainly the other frames) whilst other enemies such as the basic raptors etc can be defeated quite easily and are more of an annoyance then a serious threat to you progressing through the game. Boss fights are a hallmark of this title, and every twenty to thirty minutes of game play you will encounter a new, tougher boss. This is where the main challenge of Zone of the Enders 2 lies.
Another down side to the game is the environments, or rather the lack of variety in the environments. Most of the game is spent in metal structured corridors and large rooms rather then in outdoor environments and after a while it becomes tedious fighting in rooms which only differ by wall markings or crates being present. One saving feature of the environments is the high level of destruction which can be caused. If an enemy frame is hiding behind a pillar, or wall, shooting it will cause the wall to collapse, exposing the enemy. This can be used to a great extent for tactical advantage.
The presentation of Zone of the Enders 2 is second to none, it is one of the most stylish games to ever be released. Cut scenes (and like Metal Gear Solid 2 there are a lot of them) are played out in an anime style with great voice acting. The actual gameplay sits in between cel shading and realistic graphics. There is a bit of slowdown when the action becomes intense, but this is rare. On the sound front, the game contains a superb soundtrack in a cinematic style. If only all games on the PS2 had this much style.
Zone of the Enders 2 is very much a hit and miss. If you love anime, and don't mind playing through a fairly repetitive game then buy this game, but for the others who want a high action, third person game then the repetitiveness may put you off. Everyone should check it out at least via a rental, because the presentation is absolutely stunning.
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