I find myself in a somewhat contradictory position. I have never played Zone of the Enders or Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, yet I am a massive fan of mech games and anime series. I’m not sure why I never got around to it, but the recently released Zone of the Enders HD Collection is my first experience with the series at all. That being said, aside from a few bumps that really should have been worked out in a collection such as this, the Zone of the Enders HD Collection is, for a first-time player, an absolute gem.
Most of the type of people who read this kind of thing are generally familiar with Zone of the Enders, but “most” is quite obviously not “all,” so a bit of background is probably in order. Zone of the Enders is essentially an anime mech game. Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is…well, an anime mech game. A Zone of the Enders loving friend of mine asked about the game a few weeks ago, since he knew I had been at PAX. Unfortunately, I spent my time in the Konami room on Revengeance and Mirror of Fate, so I couldn’t really tell him anything about it. He ended up informing me more than I could him. He said the first Zone of the Enders was mediocre, but Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner was worth playing the first one for. Having now played both, I can see his point, even if I don’t necessarily agree.
That’s not to say that Zone of the Enders isn’t worth playing. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Playing Zone of the Enders made me want to watch Gundam Wing or Neon Genesis Evangelion again. Playing Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner did more of the same. The animated sequences are really good (and newly done for the HD collection, from what I gather), but the in-game cutscenes have not aged well. Both games play primarily in a third-person perspective, which is my preferred gameplay perspective in all genres (racers, shooters, RPGs…you name it, I’d rather play it in third-person). As you play, the game becomes truly three-dimensional out of necessity. You are capable of moving in any direction; forward, backward, left, right, up, and down. You may forget about the up and down part at first while in combat, but as I mentioned, it soon becomes necessary when you find yourself in swarms of enemies and with only so much room to maneuver in laterally. The game is frantic and fascinating, and I’m definitely disappointed that I never experienced it in its original form.
On the other hand, looking at it now, I probably would have been disappointed with the quality of the update, so it’s probably for the best that I’m able to look at it with my own perspective.
Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is, undoubtedly, the better game, and is singlehandedly worth the purchase price of the Zone of the Enders HD Collection. Contrary to what most people claim, however, I find that the original Zone of the Enders was also a great game, and while it is not necessarily worth quite as much as its superior sequel, neither is it detrimental to the collection in any way at all. Fans of the classic may have a different perspective on this, and may not find the updates as satisfying, but for those fresh to the franchise with a definite predilection for mech anime…Zone of the Enders HD Collection is a solid set.
[learn_more caption=”Review Results”][one_half]Pros:
- An anime/mech lover’s dream
- Great story with great gameplay
- Newly animated sequences are gorgeous
- Gameplay animation is smooth[/custom_list][/one_half]
- Framerate does not reach advertised 60FPS
- Lag and variances in framerate occur too often
- In-game cutscenes are dated
To see where this review score falls in our scoring range, please read our review scale guidelines.[/learn_more]