As a set of two these games hold up much better than I expected
Since this is a collection of two games I’ll be talking about the first ZoE in the first few paragraphs before switching to the sequel. A lot of what makes up the first game feels like a starting point with some hints of greatness but it is fairly simple. The story starts with our young protagonist learning about the horrors of war before accidentally falling into the cockpit of Jehuty. For some reason the A.I. named Ada lets him pilot her so they can escape from the wreaked factory. From there it becomes a standard story of a kid who must learn that he must fight if he wants to protect those he cares about. Possibly the most run of the mill story Kojima has ever helped produce.
Once the player is in control of Jehuty it lives up to the tagline of high speed robot action. The gist of the combat consists of dashing around enemies to dodge their attacks while dishing out some pain via a assortment of weapons. Fights can get quite hectic when enemies start to block attacks since the quick 3 hit combo can leave you open to attack. The usefulness of the assortment of other weapons is suspect. Most are either to slow or do so little damage that it wasn’t worth using. Making most fights play out with me getting up close and personal which was fine.
Overall the pacing and combat is a little flawed but still enjoyable all these years later. The 2nd act in this story just felt like they forgot what they were saying so they just had our hero fight a bunch of robots with minimal dialogue. While the combat relies a bit to much on melee mostly thanks to how useless the ranged attacks seemed to be. Yet when the game does kick in high gear like the assortment of boss fights it is a sight to behold. As one part of a package it holds up a lot better than I imagined. In my mind I thought the controls were a lot stiffer but they are spot on. Anyway it's time to switch gears to the game everyone seems to remember fondly, Zone Of Enders: The Second Runner.
Fittingly it starts with our new protag named Dingo who has just unwittingly found Jethuty who was dropped on a frozen world that his company was mining for Metatron. The vile forces of Bahram who are once again trying to get their hands on it for devious purposes. Unlike the last game this one has much more time spent talking about grand plans and setting up crazy plot points. So if that’s up your alley then it is much improved over the simplicity of the first.
The gameplay is actually super close to what they were doing before. The main difference is exactly what I wanted them to do. The gun play is actually useful now and the sub weapons are more vital to take down the simplest AI frame. Also enemies are more aggressive than before. Even the run of the mill enemy can take your health down to zero quickly on normal if you underestimate them. Fights are larger than before since most situations end up being 3-6 vs 1. The bosses are a bit more puzzle like too which is generally a good thing. Since it gives the player a reason to use different tools to finish off bosses like dashing out of the way or using by the counter mechanic. At the same time it can lead to some frustration till you figure out the right way to succeed.
I was expecting a bit more of a refriement over the first game but this sequel doesn’t seem that much better than the first. Sure it has more silly dramatic encounters and cut scenes. Along with better use of the different weapons that Jethuty has yet it just feels slightly better than the already good first game. I’m not saying either is bad they are just good for different reasons from my perspective at least. Although this one certainly holds up better graphically than the first.
As a whole this is a solid package for fans of crazy fast robot action. In a time where we don’t really see many takes on this style of game this HD collection is still a worthwhile revisit. At the time I’m sure the 4 hour length of these games were a issue but as a pack of two that is no longer a problem. I recommend you pick it up if this review peaked your interest.