Title :Zone of the Enders
Platforms :PlayStation 2
Publisher :Konami
ESRB Rating :Mature
Game Rating :8.1
Review by :Larry Tipton

Produced by Hideo Kojima, the creator of the Metal Gear series, Zone of the Enders features huge, mechanized robots going at it up close and personal like no other game has done before. This well crafted PlayStation 2 game from Konami is sure to please both anime and robot fighting fans alike. 

The story unfolds like so many in this genre have done in the past. An unassuming young hero finds himself in the middle of a vast struggle against a relentless force that is determined to wipe out his space colony. You get to be the hero, save the girl and — well, you get the idea. 

ZOE plays more like a fighting game than a mech simulation. For this reason, some people have been a little disappointed with the game, but not me: I just can't get enough of this kind of game. Cyberbots, its sequel, and Virtua On were good, but weren't enough. There is something about the genre that really keeps me playing long after the game is finished. But ZOE offers more story and style than these offerings. Zone also takes a somewhat simpler approach to the fighting engine, making it more accessible and directed at a larger audience. 

Zone of the Enders is mission based in which you must accomplish certain goals in order to continue. An on-board computer partner provides guidance and assistance. She will describe the mission objectives and interact with you throughout the game. At times you will be required to retrace your steps, which can get a bit tedious. 

The slickly-designed control scheme is intuitive. The heads-up display (HUD) makes it easy to see where the enemies are, and the weapon selection could not be easier. To get the most out of what the huge robot can do, ZOE includes a fabulous tutorial to help with the basics and the more advanced maneuvers and attack methods, both melee and long-range. 

Graphically, the game is without peer. ZOE is the type of game you show your friends who are undecided about the PlayStation 2. The graphics are sharp. The mechanized robots, level bosses, and various battlegrounds are highly detailed and well-animated. In-battle effects, such as hoards of enemy mechs and enough firepower to obliterate buildings, are rendered excellently. The game is also packed with 3D animated anime cut scenes to help further tell the story. 

Perhaps the weakest part of the game is the merely average voice acting. It does little to further the story along and can be distracting. Konami should have left the original, Japanese voice acting intact and added subtitles, or at least made it an option. The actual in game sound effects are really good, though, with a terrific soundtrack. 

According to Konami, the missions change each time they are played. The computer AI can learn from your actions, though this feature is not obvious from the onset. 

Up to four games can be saved on a memory card. Games can be saved only when navigating from one area to another. The primary game is designed for one player. After completing the game for the first time you can play head to head against another person in a one on one fighting game. 

As an added bonus, a playable demo of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is included with the game. 

What are you waiting for? The fate of an entire space colony is depending on you! 

This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 23-Apr-01