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Armored Core 2
Baldur's Gate II
Blair Witch
Samba de Amigo
SSX
Street Fighter EX3
Tekken Tag Tournament
THPS 2

1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine

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by Konami

zoe10-01.jpg (4331 bytes)We have become a culture that is willing to pay to be advertised to. We wear t-shirts with huge Nike logos, we buy stuffed Budweiser lizards and we pay for movies that we don’t want to see so that we can watch the trailers. Now we’re buying video games for the demos they come with. Zone of the Enders is stuck in the shadow of Metal Gear Solid and that’s a tragic thing. Zone of the Enders looks like it’s going down in history as the game that came with the MGS2 demo. I was probably the only person I knew who was looking forward more to ZOE than the demo. I’ve been itching for a fast, arcadey, big robot game on the PS2 for a while now, and ZOE is everything I hoped for, almost.

zoe1-01.jpg (3578 bytes)In Zone of the Enders, you’re Leo, a boy who accidentally stumbles into a big robot called an orbital frame as your space colony is under attack. The story disintegrates into your typical loss of innocence through violence. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, and even the cut scenes seem more of an afterthought. Fortunately, there’s not too much story to slow down the pace of the game.

zoe11-01.jpg (3246 bytes)This is a shooter, clear and simple. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll be more than happy. If you’re looking for Mechwarrior style depth, look someplace else. You have a basic primary and secondary weapon set up with long and close range variations. The controls for this game are some of the most intuitive and straightforward that I’ve ever experienced. It has a particularly nice targeting system and really maneuvers the three-dimensional space well. At times I felt I was playing a game closer to Power Stone than Armored Core (that’s a compliment if you weren’t sure). The action is fast and unrelenting, and thanks to the nice controls you don’t feel like you have to wade through dozens of training missions before you’re ready to save the world.

zoe2-01.jpg (4359 bytes)There’s a hint of Blast Corp (one of the few games on the N64 that I really liked). I can’t describe how much fun it is to grab onto your opponent and then throw him into a nearby building. Nearly all of the buildings can be leveled (interestingly, the church is impervious to budding mech powered atheists) and like Blast Corp, there’s more to this game than just blowing things up. The game actually keeps track of the damage you do on some levels, and if you’re not careful it can actually count against you. I really appreciated the fact that when you level a building, it stays leveled no matter how many times you exit and reenter an area.

zoe3-01.jpg (4664 bytes)It seems like every week there’s a new game for the PS2 that raises the bar for PS2 graphics. Well, this week it’s ZOE. Bar none, this has some of the nicest graphics that you’re going to find on the PS2. If you want to show off your system, this is the game to do it with. The explosions alone enough to woo you. There wasn’t a hint of slowdown in the game.

zoe4-01.jpg (4548 bytes)The action isn’t completely unrelenting. Sometimes you do have to take a break from blowing things up and hunt down various items to get you through to the next level. In order to progress through the game, you will have to revisit cleared areas to get necessary passcodes and items. Unfortunately, you may find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time just looking around for that one item you need. And each time you reenter an area all of the opponents respawn, so you literally feel like you’re playing the same level again and again. A few more hints about where you needed to go and what you needed to do would have been much appreciated.

zoe5-01.jpg (3360 bytes)Zone of the Enders is a little short and a little repetitive. Some of the levels look pretty similar, and I would have liked to have seen more variety in the robots that you battle, but these are all problems that could be remedied with the sequel (heavily hinted at in the game’s final scenes).

zoe6-01.jpg (3977 bytes)I really got sucked into this one. In all honesty, after I got past the amazing graphics on MGS2, I got pretty bored. Zone of the Enders grabbed me right from the start and didn’t let me go until the final battle. It’s a pretty easy game to sum up: Big robots, cool graphics, and fantastic gameplay. You could accuse me of being a shallow gamer, to which I would reply, "If I have to work hard to enjoy it, it can’t be much of a game." ZOE is all fun and no work. What more can I say? This is a game that could have and should have stood on its own. Fifty bucks is too much to pay for Solid Snake’s brief adventure, but it’s just about right for Zone of the Enders.

Jason Frank

Snapshot

Ups: Great graphics; fast-paced action; nice arcade feel.

Downs: A bit repetitive; not enough variety in enemy robots.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation 2

 

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