790th played so far

Genre: Action
Platform: Playstation 2
Year of Release: 2003
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Publisher: Konami

While we msotly know Hideo Kojima for the Metal Gear Solid series, while reading up when preparing for this entry I saw that he was also involved in the creation of the Zone of the Enders series. We’re playing the second of this over the shoulder shooter today, a game that seems obsessed with mechs and looks more like a 3D shoot ’em up than a full on action game. Knowing who it’s by, though, I’m expecting some interesting choices – and I hope the cut scenes are kept to a minimum.

Our Thoughts

My notes for this post include that the game has a lot of anime cut scenes, pretty much as if we’re watching a mech centered anime (a genre that, to be honest, I’ve mostly avoided so far but picked up on through cultural osmosis). I’ve already forgotten the details, but it plays a lot with the standard stories. It’s not rote, but there’s you finding the old very powerful mech and fighting with it. There are some variations on the theme, in part how you fuse with it, but the set up feels basic – you’ve got to stop the bad guys using everything you’ve got, and during your first base infiltration you end up freeing several prisoners while taking out a lot of enemies.

The game itself doesn’t have the cartoon cutscenes as much. It’s a 3D shooter which streamlines its graphics, looking good but it feels like it is also put in to allow for these bigger worlds to exist – large rooms with a lot of complex looking enemies, if somewhat geometric. I’m not sure I’d call it clean, but it feels like a deliberate choice to allow for technical trade offs to be made while still keeping to a style.

The game starts including a decent bunch of options in battle as well. There’s a mix of near and far attacks, burst and movement abilities and you gain extra weapons as you progress through the game. There’s a lot going on and a lot of options, but the controls are laid out well enough and are helpful enough that I could get into the flow rather easily. The weapon switching makes it more awkward, but it works well. The system also includes a leveling system, but I believe it just raises the numbers to help things get easier.

Beyond that the game is pretty linear, taking you room to room to clear enemies. A few have puzzles in them to find certain places, but it didn’t feel too interesting and while the game had a map, I rarely needed it. There was no point where I needed to backtrack, it just helped a bit when there were a few rooms to check out. It wasn’t a big deal most of the time though.

Final Thoughts

Zone of the Enders: The Second Runner feels like it achieves what it wants to, a third person shooter with 3D freedom of movement, combat that feels great and a bit of exploration, but mostly keeping you on a track to take you through the story. I’m not sure how much angecy you have with that, but it worked so far and the game stayed fun throughout.