Zone of the Enders: HD Collection Review

The aerial combat is still thrilling, but some inexcusable issues make Zone of the Enders HD Collection a disappointing repackaging of two cult classics.

by

Beneath a cliched, anime-infused veneer, the Zone of the Enders series features thrilling midair combat, carried by tight controls and a surprisingly adept dynamic camera system. While the brevity and monotony of the original Zone of the Enders gave the impression that it was little more than a glorified concept demo, the arrival of the sequel, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, presented a greater spectrum of environments, scenarios, and emotions that would ultimately solidify its favor over the original.

It was also rendered at an impressive frame rate, further emphasizing the breakneck pace of combat. This detail comes to mind when contemplating the potential home run that an HD remaster of the series could be. Sadly, it seems that instead of swinging for the fences, Konami opted to bunt. The improved resolution and aspect ratio are welcome additions, but they unfortunately tax the frame-rate of the best game in the collection, The 2nd Runner.

In fairness, the remastered version of Zone of the Enders (the original game) does pick up the pace a bit, though that doesn't change the fact that the game can be completed in under five hours--five hours filled with repetitive environments, hammy dialogue, and embarrassing acting to boot. Anyone familiar with the series won't find anything new here that warrants slogging through the game yet again. At least the remaster of the original serves as an extended introduction to the world of the Enders and the Orbital Frames that rule the skies.

Dingo Egret suffers ridicule everywhere he goes. Poor guy.

The sequel, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, is where you'll want to spend most of your time with the HD Collection. The scope of the narrative and the variety of missions and environments eclipse the best moments from the original. In addition to extensively upgrading the avatars and cutscenes, Konami contracted animation studio Sunrise to create an original animated sequence tying the two games together. There's also new content previously relegated to a special edition of the PlayStation 2 release that was exclusive to Asian and European markets, including extra missions, additional difficulty levels, and VR training features.

It's disappointing that the technical execution suffers so greatly. Though there are rare moments of speedy satisfaction, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions perform worse than the original. Oddly, the PlayStation 3 suffers more than the Xbox 360 version, dropping even more frames and producing odd graphical effects related to the oft-used motion-blur. Replaying the PlayStation 2 version after spending time with the HD Collection emphasizes the frame-rate discrepancy; it feels like it's on fast-forward by comparison. The remastered version is completely enjoyable and playable, but it fails to improve, or even maintain, the speed of the original SD version.

True, both titles suffer from technical and story-related shortcomings, but there are moments in each where excellence shines through and you see what made these games so enjoyable many years ago. Eventually, you find yourself participating in some of the most thrilling and engaging midair combat of this generation and the last. Battling against opposing Orbital Frames (Gundam-esque, anthropomorphized mechs) stands out as the essence of the greatness within the otherwise mediocre package. Thankfully, both games are entrenched in the nimble maneuverability of your Frame, Jehuty, as it gracefully charges, flips, and pans around its targets. Were it not for these moments, neither Zone of the Enders game would have a leg to stand on. Konami could have capitalized on these strengths even further by enabling online multiplayer, but it didn't. Combat is easily the most engaging and enjoyable aspect of both games, and online integration of the local Versus modes would have greatly extended the life of the HD Collection.

Jehuty strikes back!

If the two games aren't enough, some people may be enticed into purchasing the HD Collection by the inclusion of the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo, though it's worth considering that the PlayStation 3 version presents game-breaking bugs linked to the bipedal mechs, known as geckos. Lock on to one, or initiate Blade mode, and the game freezes. The only remedy is a hard reset of the console. While it was easy to reproduce these bugs on the PlayStation 3, they were nonexistent in the Xbox 360 version during repeat tests.

The HD treatment, especially the widescreen aspect ratio, makes the pair of Zone of the Enders games more palatable by contemporary standards, but the chugging frame rate leaves the bitter taste of disappointment behind, inspiring thoughts of what could have been. The extra content, including the currently exclusive Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo, may be enough to justify the budget price tag of $40 to some, but it doesn't make up for the partial neutering of a game that wasn't broken to begin with.

The Good
Responsive controls
Speedy and addictive combat
The Bad
Poor frame rate
No online integration
Clunky dialogue
Repetitive gameplay
5.5
Mediocre
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Discussion

2 comments
DigiRave
DigiRave

  • No online integration  
  • Clunky dialogue  
  • Repetitive gameplay."
  • I think this part of the review is full of shit. The reviewer is expecting new material, but this is no new game! This is only an update or an enhancement, not a reboot, there is not going to be new material, DEAL WITH IT!  To lower the score for imaginary material that never was promised in the first place is total bullshit!  It's like ordering a cherry pie, then asking "why the fuck aren't there any apples in here?!" But I guess the reviewer probably likes to do that too.




    Mitridon
    Mitridon

    How could they not give us an Anubis campaign gameplay. :-( They didn't even improve his teleport in versus, or improve his very slow grab. Disappointing.

    wizardboyus
    wizardboyus

    it would be amazing if konami could turn this game engine into a full fledged versus fighter, sure the mechanics are kinda simple but if they added a little more depth to the combat (especially the melee combat..although it is fun to watch to characters endlessly parry each others blows like in a real anime XD ), then there could be some hope for non-fps multiplayer games. ZOE has some really innovative mechanics, and the fact that they were able to do it on the ps2 is pretty amazing imo

    Scrotous
    Scrotous

    This game is boss, one of the most stylish action games. I never thought of it as repetitive, just constant action, its specially more fun at higher difficulties once you get the Zero Shift. Had it in PS2 and now HD too, despite the framerate issues its still great. But mind you, the VR tutorial has slighty worse framerates than the PS2.

    aboutmuscle
    aboutmuscle

    I see alot of bad comments but I enjoyed this game, yeah there are always things that can be improved on but that goes with most games.

    alenth
    alenth

    just lol @ online integration as a negative point, who gives a crap about that? anyways the frame rate issues are inexcusable, i hope konami can patch this mess.

    SchumiF1
    SchumiF1

    While the complaints are valid about the framerate (we can thank High Voltage for that) listing lack of online integration as a negative is stupid and makes no sense. The game never had it in the first place. Judging it for that reduces the credibility of the review imo.

    Novemberfreeze
    Novemberfreeze

    score is lower than i was expecting but ill still pick this up. heard it was a monster for the ps2 and i dont really want to miss it when my friends do nothing but reminisce on it. the frame-rate issue is a downer but the repetition and bad dialogue definitely doesnt affect me. its been more than a decade of gaming for me and i wont be stopped by such minor flaws. i mean, it could be worse. (looks over at Duke Nukem Forever and Phantasy Star Universe) *shiver*

    Deevova
    Deevova

    Since when is "no online integration" a "bad" thing? Why would you even list that? "Online" "Integration" is rarely done well. It's reviewers like this man, makes developers feel the need to tack on online multiplier modes that end up feeling hollow compared to the rest of the game. ME3 is a good example of this.  

     

    I do hope they find a way to fix the framerate though I didn't find it to be that distracting it was definitely noticeable. 

    frunklindoodle
    frunklindoodle

    Snaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake!... Oops, sorry *Switches Codec*

    thom_maytees
    thom_maytees

    Knowing that High Voltage Software is behind the development of this HD collection, it is not surprising that it scored this low.

    pcty
    pcty

    I don't know if I agree with discounting points from the game because the Demo for another game, that is in the disc as extra content, doesn't work properly.

    Magnaxilorius
    Magnaxilorius

    If this HD remake does suffer from something simply like poor frame-rate issues then I can understand universal reviews on this title not being the best. In my opinion, old games like this (even if they're in HD now) have no excuse for not processing at 60 frames per second or way better. And as for why other game-play enhancements weren't added is beyond me. I'd have voted for Foxhound to handle the port.

    digi-demon
    digi-demon

    Another poor PS3 port.... blame the developers? no....  blame Sony

    SavoyPrime
    SavoyPrime

    Ummm...why is this listed as a 'Puzzle' game? o_O

    SolidTy
    SolidTy

    I don't know this reviewer, but I do own these games on PS2. The first game was decent, the second one AMAZING.

     

    Not sure why he expects online integration for this. Is he saying you can't see your friendslist or Text Chat? What the sam hill does that mean? They clearly aren't going to add in MP to an HD collection for sh**s and giggles.

     

    A shame the collection has some bugs, but damn that's a low score. I checked Meta, GS is in the lead with the lowest review. Bummer dudes.

    edulink
    edulink

    "No online integration" Since when is this an issue? Why can't a game be a good single player?

    Eikichi-Onizuka
    Eikichi-Onizuka

    I bought the CE to support the series but it's a shame these HD ports can't quite match the originals. The games seem perfectly playable from what I tested though, so can't quite agree with the score being quite so low. And really, the two games add up to 10-12 hours of gameplay, it's longer than a lot of games. 

    slainta
    slainta

    Is this the new Gamespot trend to give PS3 games 2 points less than the Metacritic's average?

    Pie_FOREVER
    Pie_FOREVER

    This site is a joke. I have played these games over the years since I was a kid and bought this collection. There is NOTHING wrong with them. The "framerate" issues they speak of are non existent. In fact, they play exactly like the original releases.

     

    I don't get this site. I really don't. Like one of the caveat's is that it doesn't have online play? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE RATING A GAME OBJECTIVELY BY WHAT IT IS, NOT BY "WHAT IS ON MY WISHLIST THAT THEY DIDN'T FULFILL". These games NEVER had online play, what makes you believe going into reviewing this they now magically should? When in an HD collection, EVER has the online component carried over for ANY game for that matter? 

     

    To call this review amateurish would be an insult to the very word. This site represents everything that is wrong with journalism today. It isn't based on objectivity, history or fact. It's based in emotion and the reasoning of a 12 year old.

     

    I just....I don't even know anymore. World, do yourself a favor and just stop reading reviews. The only one that matters is your own. This review is so ridiculously inaccurate to the overall experience of these games that it should be disregarded outright. Go rent them and decide for yourself.

    acealexander702
    acealexander702

    Many people only bought this for the MGR demo, and I hear that even that demo is pretty buggy..... Konami..... fix yo s***

    Born_Lucky
    Born_Lucky

    Ya know, Sony will never learn.

     

    I bet the PS4 isn't BC with PS2 either, which means . . . I won't be buying one.

     

    I'll play PS2 games on a PS2, and I'll play all the new stuff on PC.

     

    Sony - hire some new management. .

    jlevin860
    jlevin860

    this is coming from someone who played the heck out of the 2nd runner on ps2 and picked up the HD collection on 360. game still plays great, graphics are improved and look awesome, and like the review said they added an "extra missions" feature which has a LOT of extra VR type missions. (similar to the MGS series ones) that adds good replay.

     

    my main complaint, the camera/lock on system have given me issues when in combat and wanting to target someone specific or not target at all. 

     

    if you had any doubts about picking this up after reading this review, take it with a grain of salt. the games are great and the 2nd one especially is just pure awesomeness.

     

    fawad2k80
    fawad2k80

    great Review I love yours dear ahmedkabir.tumblr.com

    Isamu_36
    Isamu_36

    Zone of the Enders games are videogame jewels.Missing or skipping them means ignoring a part of this industry's history.

    Quezakolt
    Quezakolt

    i think Konami is really going downhill fast. Good thing they still have Kojima studios with them...

    Dieofnv
    Dieofnv

    gamespot editor are a joke they give this game 5.5 and silent hill "HD" 7.0 with praise of" HD visuals reveal extra detail and New, well-done voice acting for Silent Hill 2"    when silent hill is one of the worse remakes ever with konami having to refund or exchange the game and giving up no patches for the game

    GS is a joke

    regix416_basic
    regix416_basic

    Now I didn't see a bit of these framerate dropout problems that he did.  The first ZOE game always had problems but you've got to realize something between the characters of the FIRST game and the characters of the SECOND RUNNER.  The first game was dealing with how a little kid deals with the hardships of an interstellar war going on around him.  So I'm sorry if you think the dialog wasn't to YOUR standards but if YOU were the age of this kid and thrown into his position, I think you'd see things a little naively too. 

     

    I've never played the Second Runner so I can't really comment but as long as it isn't as bad as someone yelling in the background going, "Snake?  Snake?!? SNAKE!!!!?!?!" I think I can cope with a little bad writing here and there.  Oh, and by the way, for anyone who wants to know why I HATE the latest MGS incarnations, THAT my friends is the reason why.  It's one word phrases and dim-witted explosions like that that make me loathe the new style Metal Gear games.  Give me the old style misspelled text blogs anyday over that monstrosity. 

     

    Hell, I'll even take Raiden's voiceovers over that S#$%.   

    HowlPendragon
    HowlPendragon

    @DigiRave Agreed. An HD collection should be rated based upon its improvements. This isn't a brand new title to the series.

    Basically "How much better are the graphics/audio/gameplay mechanics now?" should be the main questions.

    Iamshmee
    Iamshmee

     @digi-demon The review is the same on both consoles. Don't know if the issue is the same on both, but being bias to consoles is pretty weak. I'm not the biggest sony, microsoft, or nintendo fan because all companies are getting to be just about money instead of quality which is pretty lame.

    LilRoss2k3
    LilRoss2k3

     @edulink no online integration for basically an HD collection from the PS2 era....like GoW, Ico/SotC, Devil May Cry Collection....is this guy serious?

    bgghgubcjhgknjk
    bgghgubcjhgknjk

     @edulink And clunky dialog and repetitive action? That was how the early games were, if they changed it then fans would riot at them, I do think frame rate could be fixed but I reckon an 8 or 8.5 is much more worthy

    DuaMn
    DuaMn

     @Pie_FOREVER You have the brain age of a 12 years old. If you don't agree, you don't agree, that's all you can say. You can't blame a "site" for a review. Gamespot has lots of reviewers, some of them are good and some of them are bad. Your response to the review however is idiotic.

    LilRoss2k3
    LilRoss2k3

     @Born_Lucky unfortunately...i think backwards compatibility is a thing of the past.  the PSN store is their cash cow....why make systems backwards compatible when they can charge us again for the same games?

    deadkingdg
    deadkingdg

     @Born_Lucky You know that it's Konami that made this game, right? And that it is on X360 as well?

     

    Yes, Sony did remove the backward compatibility of their PS3, but I must admit, even if I have a 60gb, I only played PS2 games on it on the first year, and since then, I had plenty of PS3 games to play to simply not have to time to replay PS2 games. Anyways, what does this have to do with a Zone of the Enders HD collection review?

    Nexozable
    Nexozable

     @SSS1989 Did you just say Star Wars Kinect....?

     

    Oh god, OH HELL NO.

    zzamaro
    zzamaro

     @Dieofnv Totally agreed. SH HD is by far, the worst HD collection, and yet...well, you just said it.

    SolidTy
    SolidTy

     @regix416_basic The Second Runner was amazing, you really skipped a great title. The first game was okay-decent, it's the second runner that was the game not to be missed.

    Isamu_36
    Isamu_36

     @regix416_basic The Second Runner is a very, very good title. I played the original on PS2 and it was amazing; from the time when Konami was a great innovative game developer instead of a follow-up releaser just like Square Soft nowadays.

    dom28
    dom28

     @DuaMn  @Pie_FOREVER Says the person who starts off their sentence by calling the other guy a 12 year old. Honestly man the guy has a valid point. The game plays perfect, and it seems Gamespot has issues with older games or something, because they do this with most if not all of their "HD remake" reviews. So the guy says something that you don't agree with, big whoop. Calling him names however, makes you look like the bigger child who simply cannot handle a truthful opinion.

    SSS1989
    SSS1989

     @Nexozable They did it along with Terminal Reality. Yes, it's more of the rail shooter type and the game sucks like hell unless if you want the lightsaber controller to go along with the game, then the game would have suck less. Unfortunately, it just never happened. Anyhoo, I recently checked the FPS rate on the PS3 through a YouTube video. There are too many enemies in the field and it is a technical issue by the developers, not the system. Yes, blame High Voltage Software. If I were you, maybe play the original on the emulator? I'm not sure I can talk about this though. Still, I love Konami and they need to step up some more.

    Zone of the Enders HD Collection

    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    • PlayStation Vita
    Zone of the Enders HD Collection bundles together both of the Zone of the Enders games and updates them with HD visuals.
    ESRB
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Violence
    Check out even more info at the Zone of the Enders HD Collection Wiki on Giantbomb.com