Zone of Enders the 2nd Runner MARS – Review

Just because Hideo Kojima had his grubby little mitts all over the original development of this game, doesn’t mean it will be a good game. This version of the game is now its 3rd time around! It was awkward the first time and still is now.

Originally released on the PS2 back in 2001, and then re-released in 2012 as part of the Zone of Enders HD collection on the PS3 and Xbox 360, we’re back again for the third time around on the PS4, but this time with VR support. This review doesn’t include any VR aspects though.

It’s safe to say the Japanese love their mechs! Some of the most famous Anime’s are based around mech combat, Gundam, and recently Darling in the Franxx ( well worth a watch that one ) but they’ve not really had a video game to match this enthusiasm. There are Gundam games, but they suffer from the same issue this one does. It’s just a bit boring really.

Firstly the single-player campaign is short ( around 4 hours ) so not much to get your teeth into. The story itself is a little all over the place, which although terribly Japanese, doesn’t hold up to today’s standards. The main character you play is called Leo and he barely survives an attack from an organisation called BAHRAM. The only way Leo can survive is by being in his mech “Jehuty.” The story then follows the normal, find a bad guy and kill him of course with a couple of boss battles thrown in.

The graphics are basic at best. Although they have been brought up to modern standards it looks like exactly what it is, a polished PS2 game. Settings are sparse, textures non-existent, detail lacking. It’s all very clean and sterile.  The narrative is delivered in a couple of ways, but mainly through anime, and sadly even some of those are so blurred it looks VHS, let alone DVD standard quality of copy and pasting!

The combat, to start is pretty good, but the tone doesn’t change from 10 minutes into the game to the end. Clunky controls don’t help. For example, to fly your mech around you go left and right on the right joystick, but up and down with the Triangle and Cross buttons respectively! It’s certainly not fluid, but thankfully the simple graphics are. However the enemy AI is poor, there is a lack of variety in enemy types, and the battle systems you have are a little too confusing. Press the square when your moving shoots a shot, but if you stay still it’s a more powerful beam. In the hectic moments of battle, it’s incredibly difficult to stop to do this.

There are swarms of enemies that you can use multiple mini rockets to shoot, or bigger single types which you can singularly shoot with a gun, or with a sword or objects up close. You can block shots coming in as well, but the net issue is, there is too much happening on screen, to be able to actually understand what’s going on. This isn’t helped by the fact that your mech looks almost exactly the same as the enemies, so it’s infuriatingly easy to lose track of yourself on screen with so much happening and suffer hits because of it.

One aspect that could have given a good amount of value for this game would have been an online aspect, but sadly there is none. The only incentive to play the game in single player is to just unlock new items for the next playthrough. Either that or the VR capability, but reading other reports the VR aspect is poor as well.

Zone of Enders the 2nd Runner MARS – Review
Would I Play This Again?
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Take time to get used to it, grit your teeth and get used to the controls, it’s still a solid little title but just has too many flaws to be really enjoyable. You would expect better for a game today and Zone of Enders certainly hasn’t aged well.

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