Zone of the Enders was originally released on PlayStation 2 in 2001. Its sequel, The 2nd Runner, then came out in 2003. The series quickly gained a cult following and is counted by many gamers among the top PS2 games of all-time. Fans have wanted a third Zone of the Enders game for years and prior to E3 2012, Hideo Kojima announced the Enders Project, which is said to be the next game in the franchise. Very little is actually known about the next game but in order to hold fans over (and to breed new ones), Konami has remade the first two ZoE games in high definition and packaged them together as part of the recently released Zone of the Enders HD Collection on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
So the biggest question when it comes to HD collections like this is how do these games stack up compared to newly released titles? Is Zone of the Enders still a good game today or is the gameplay outdated? The short answer is that these games are still incredibly fun.
As with most games made by Kojima, Zone of the Enders has a very strong plot. The game is set in the future when war is waged with mecha suits called “Orbital Frames,” which are sort of like Gundams in Gundam Wing. The main character, a boy named Leo, finds himself piloting a powerful Orbital Frame named “Jehuty” completely by accident. Jehuty is equipped with a female A.I. named A.D.A. who becomes a secondary character and somewhat of a friend to Leo. Although Jehuty remains the star of The 2nd Runner, the sequel also has a new protagonist pilot named Dingo.
The combat and movement mechanics are just as fast-paced and smooth as they were in 2001. Video games today could learn a thing or two about the fluidity in controls that Zone of the Enders brings to the table. The new high-definition graphics in both games look really well done and perhaps even make them better looking than Armored Core V, another mecha-based game released just earlier this year. The Zone of the Enders HD Collection also features improved sound and of course has trophies and unlockable achievements.
The criticisms are largely the same as they were when the ZoE games were initially released. As with any hack n’ slash type game, combat can get repetitive after awhile of doing the same thing over and over. The dialogue is also surprisingly cheesy for a game with such a high production value and the voice acting leaves something to be desired. It also would have been nice to have an online versus mode added in.
The Zone of the Enders HD Collection may be far from perfect, but it is definitely worth buying for fans of the series that played the PS2 games back in the day. At a price tag of $39.99, it is also well worth it for gamers who have never played ZoE before but like mecha-based combat and want to see what all the hype is about. To top it all off, the HD Collection comes packaged with the first playable Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo.
Final Score: 4 / 5 stars
(This review was based off a review copy of the game).