Hold your flaming horses everyone! I've actually played and completed the series before writing this, so my experience is at least funded on, well, experience. So, please read these reviews to know where I'm coming from:
Review - Zone Of The Enders
Review - Zone Of The Enders: The 2nd Runner
Done? Good, because I also documented some footage on video:
Zone Of The Enders
Zone Of The Enders Credits
Here is where it ultimately went wrong:
ZOE2 – Last Chance
ZOE2 – Endbattle
ZOE2 – Anubis
ZOE2 – Ending + Extras
*It's imperative you scan these articles to get a decent view of the discourse below*
Seeing all that, I felt I had to elaborate on my negative outlook. Just take a peek at all the user reviews given out for Zone Of The Enders: The 2nd Runner. All other reviews handed out praise and scores ranging from 8 to 10. Clearly, that should prove I'm wrong. Well, I strongly disagree and that's why I felt I had to write this. Any person can think this is a "decent" game, but if you think it was great, then you're being overly generous and these are the reasons why:
1) Game Length: This is really the biggest downfall of the entire franchise. The first game took less than 4 hours to complete. That's very little to say the least. But since it was a PS2 first generation title, I let it slide. But when The 2nd Runner took less than 3 hours of progressive game time to finish, that's where I drew a line. Less than 3 hours? I've seen films that are longer and more compelling than that. Seriously, I know the main aspect of the series is to tell an incredible story and that triumphed, but your buyers also expect a game. And actual games are played, not seen, and that for several hours on end to justify the price tag.
Not even Zerg Rush is this short...
2) Cutscenes: Which leads us to the next point, being all the cinema. Again, the first installment already was loaded up with footage and ended abruptly after a very long clip, but it only stood precedent for more trouble. In the second game, every action sequence gets divided in mere minutes and followed by cutscenes that equal or surpass them in length. As my footage shows, I had time in between short spurts of gameplay to fetch a camera, get back and set it up in time to film the same scene. When random clips take longer than 5 minutes and most action sequences only take up between 30 seconds and 3 minutes, you have a problem. The longest activity you're allowed, I think is when you take on an entire armada. And even that can be completed in less than 15 minutes. Nonetheless, it does occur right when you get fed up with this occurrence, though that is a meager defense.
Wait, wasn't this Sony?
3) Camera: This one is sort of a swing and a miss. Ok, it's not easy to make a working camera control for such a complex, fast-paced, action game. But while the combat camera is a strong point and adds to the general mood of the game, steering the camera is a pain. In both games the Left analog stick controls movement and camera at the same time. In tight situations this creates absolute, button mashing havoc. Because you really have no idea what's going on and where you are. When the camera starts wigging out in combat, adjusting that manually is madness. It also makes it difficult to know where you're headed and invisible level walls don't make that any easier on you. Releasing the stick and waiting for it to adjust to your view is never an option, since you'll only really need it when in dire need of clear view. What a strange concept they had for this. It also makes the game harder than it should.
I..Well, that pretty much sums it up.
4) Difficulty: That leads us to the difficulty level. While I can agree that this is fairly relative towards individual skill, there's a difference between that and being plain unforgiving. Sure, they give you an option to take it Easy, but the average gamer should be able to complete a Normal round with fair practice. And while the first game does this with lesser controls, Zone Of The Enders: The 2nd Runner takes it to an entirely new length. Most combat in the franchise is hard and in the end also gratifying, but the second game has serious spiking issues. Suddenly you'll come to a certain part where you're expected to work your fingers to the point of early arthritis development.
Holy hell in a handbasket, are those about 70 unblockable projectiles headed your way? Well yes, if you don't count the 3 other volleys headed your way, I guess. Also, there's a boss somewhere behind that. It doesn't help at all that in most cases, you're left to your own wits as to what to do, until you might trigger a semi-helpful cutscene. Yes, might; because in some cases that won't really happen and what you should do to overcome all odds is left to you. Commending, to puzzle a gamers mind, but it's rather hard to do when your screen is literally filled with things that are out to kill the crap out of you.
At least I won't die from dysentery...
5) Trial And Error: And that brings up our last and saddest point: trial and error. This is what pushed me over the edge. All other things I could bear, but this was just insulting to any consumer and modern game alike. The first generation title has the convenience of coming out when it did. It doesn't justify being bad, but it gets the benefit from the doubt. But then what of the next game? If you've had the chance to make a game and learn from your mistakes, how should your faults be critiqued then? Your credit has already expired the first time. So the answer is that you should've delivered and if you didn't then you have failed.
And failed Zone Of The Enders: The 2nd Runner did. Not only is it unbelievably shorter than the first game, it also reintroduces us with the most basic trial and error ways of old. There's a situation, you're left for dead and it's up to you to figure it out. In a game released in 2004, this is really unforgiving, especially when you already didn't have credit to build on. The only reason you'll spend more time on the second game is not because of content, but because of this system was put in to waste your time. I really don't understand what the reasoning behind this all was. I really don't.
Yea, I know.. Thanks Yoda.
While playing these games, I got reminded of the previous popular franchise I didn't understand its popularity: Metal Gear Solid. And then it hit me who made this game. Hideo Kojima might be an excellent storyteller, but he isn't the game guru everybody makes him out to be. In fact, this only proves the opposite, that he couldn't care less about your game experience. Metal Gear had a wonderful story, but strange controls (cone vision guard anyone?) and Zone Of The Enders only makes matters worse. Yes, it's nice to create a world where everything looks stunning, because let me tell you, Zone Of The Enders: The 2nd Runner is one of the most jawdropping, beautiful games I've ever seen. But if you only care about the world and the story, then please; please drop the game aspect and go straight to directing films. Michael Bay is in dire need of a substitute. Take what you know from this franchise and go save Transformers. But leave the gaming community alone if you don't know how to create something we can play with and not just gawk at.
Oh, herro! *nom nom nom*
It is why I had to rate the second game to be less than its predecessor. You've had your chances and you didn't own up to them.Yes, the second game is an improvement on the first game. But when you improve something that still feels to be unplayable and lacking content, how much of that is actual improvement?
It's kind of like a store brand product with added vitamins. Sure, it's great they've finally come to enhance it, but in reality it's still a piece of inedible tripe.