Zone of the Enders HD Collection (Available on PlayStation 3, Vita and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Developer: High Voltage Software
Release Date: October 30th, 2012
Parent Talk: The ZOE HD Collection has been rated M for mature, ages 17 and up by the Entertainment Software Rating Board because the two games feature blood and gore, intense violence and partial nudity. Some of this is depicted in the anime cutscenes, while others are featured directly in the games themselves. Either way, this isn’t a game for very young children, but mature teens shouldn’t really have any issues.
Plays Like: Imagine if a mech game didn’t feature clunky controls, or boring and confusing gameplay. Z.O.E. was that game. It featured breakneck action, easy to control mechs or Orbital Frames as they’re called here, and a really awesome anime storyline to boot. Sure it’s a little campy now, but back then this was the coolest mech game ever created. The 2nd Runner took the same formula and ran wild with it, improving upon the original in every way imaginable.
Review Basis: Compared both games with the originals and took note of all the changes made. I played through the PS3 version for this review.
Confession time, I’m a HUGE Kojima fan. I like pretty much everything the guy has ever touched. When he originally announced he was going to be involved, but not direct Zone of the Enders for the PS2, I knew it would be awesome and sure enough, it was. The sequel, The 2nd Runner was even better because it had more environments, a better overall storyline and tighter, more responsive action. Bottom line, these were two excellent games, one of which is considered one of the very best released last generation. So the ultimate question is, how did the HD remaster turn out?
As a game, The 2nd Runner is outstanding. It features a richer storyline, vastly improved environments and far better gameplay than the original ZOE. It also includes the extra bonus missions released exclusively in the Collector’s Edition, which was never released in North America.
+ New animation sequences have been added to tie both games together, and they’re fantastic.
+ The art direction is just as superb today as it was the day the original ZOE was released. The HD upgrade only enhances what was already beautiful. The new widescreen resolution is fantastic.
+/- The original ZOE simply hasn’t aged as well as its sequel. It can be completed in under five hours, features very repetitive environments, uninspired voice acting and cheesy dialogue. The gameplay remains fun, but most of your time will be spent with The 2nd Runner.
– Comparing these new remastered versions to their PS2 counterparts was a blessing and a curse. The 2nd Runner featured a rock solid framerate on the PlayStation 2, and yet this version features anything but. Dips and drops in framerate happen whenever too much action is happening on-screen, which is frequent, and there are graphical glitches that pop up all over the place.
Virtually no bonus features have been added whatsoever. New cutscenes are appreciated and excellent, but no online multiplayer, no leaderboards, or anything else to keep players coming back means there’s very little reason to do so after you complete both games, which doesn’t take very long to do.
I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with this collection if only because of the severe framerate issues with The 2nd Runner. Don’t get me wrong, both games are still perfectly playable and extremely fun, but they could have been so much more with a locked framerate of 60 fps. I’ve been told an update is coming, or may already be out at the time of this review, but I reviewed the game pre-update. These are two excellent games that have been given a fresh coat of pain, but sadly the one you’re going to spend all your time on doesn’t live up to its full potential because of technical issues.
Final Score: 6.5/10