Zone Of The Enders HD Collection review
There’s something deliciously poetic about Konami bundling a new Metal Gear demo with an HD transfer of a game that was originally used as a vessel through which to sell a Metal Gear demo. Back in the day, Kojima’s name wasn’t widely enough known for a new IP to be sold off the back of that alone, but the chance to shove Snake around a tanker made the unknown quantity that was Zone Of The Enders that much more appealing.
But with this package bringing together both the glorified tech demo that is the original game and its glorious yet underappreciated sequel – both with a fancy new lick of polygonal paint, no less – we can only hope it’s not the demo doing the selling this time around. The slick new anime intro tells you everything you need to know about the games, and as much as you’re ever likely to understand about the story too, for that matter.
Mech combat is the order of the day, though it’s a fluid and graceful strain that doesn’t really exist outside of anime even to this day. Whether jetting around the sky spewing laser death at other extremely expensive robotic things or engaging in choreographed melee showdowns with rival Frames, Jehuty’s antics are stylish in extreme. That said, it’s all fairly subdued in the original, with only a couple of mechs on screen at once – it was an early PS2 game, let’s not forget – but the sequel ramps up the intensity within minutes, even if at the expense of frame rate issues that apparently still haven’t quite been ironed out.
While the original holds up better as a way of establishing the universe than it does on a gameplay level, the second game flips that on its head – it’s a peerless action game in its field, though we’d wager there isn’t a single person on the planet who actually know what is going on on a narrative level. But you simply won’t care. The original has done its job of creating a world in which giant robots can fight scores of other giant robots and that’s more than enough for the sequel to survive on its gameplay merits alone.
ZOE may feel like a proof of concept, spliced with Eighties mech anime pulled off an old VHS. But the second game both feels and now looks like it could have come out in the last few years. Whether you still harbour fond memories of the franchise or never played it back in the day, Zone Of The Enders is definitely worth another look and the HD remaster team have done a sterling job. Oh, and did we mention the Revengeance demo? You’ll want that too.