Thursday, October 18, 2012

Get In The Zone...

The first I had ever heard of the Zone Of The Enders (ZOE) was when I was reading an article about the PS2. It seems that, at the time, Sony had come to the conclusion that developers weren't using the system to it's full potential and so they decided to create a game that really showcased what the PS2 could do. They turned to Hideo Kojima (most famously known for developing the Metal Gear Solid series). Taking inspiration from Japanese Robot/Mech anime, he gave them Zone Of The Enders.

I bought ZOE on the sake of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised. The graphics were amazing, including the real time updating "warning" ring", the responsiveness was almost instantaneous and the action was very fluid. I always have issues with flight mechanics, but after a short stint in the training arena I was flying my Orbital Frame (more on that term later) with no problems. The storyline was interesting, but the main character (being a 10 year old kid) was a bit annoying.  Still, like so many others, I quickly fell in love with the game.

About the story, ZOE takes place in the late 22nd century. Humanity has expanded out to colonize Mars and even has some colonies in orbit around Jupiter. This was done with LEVs (Laborious Extra-orbital Vehicles) and a new metal ore called Metatron. Tensions between Earth & Mars escalate (Anyone born outside of Earth were nicknamed "Enders", hence the title of the game.) and give birth to rebel factions on Mars, most notably BAHRAM, who developed a new type of LEV called Orbital Frames making extensive use of Metatron based tech. The game follows this 10 year old homeless kid named Leo who accidentally discovers the Orbital Frame, Jehuty and bonds with it. There's nothing like a story about a kid and his robot. (Don't believe me? Check out Real Steel!)

Anyway, it turns out that the rebel group BAHRAM had built Jehuty and it's opposite, Anubis (the main villain of the game) as keys to an unstoppable weapon that would destroy the evil Earth minions, free Mars from Earthling tyranny, spread candy bars and twinkies across the galaxy and make everyone have a nice day. As events play out in the game, you find out the real deal about BAHRAM's plans. And then there was the sequel, Zone of The Enders: The 2nd Runner.

When I found out that a sequel was going to be released, I was ecstatic! Not so the gaming critics. It turns out that for the game critic community (and a disturbingly large number of gamers) ZOE was "the free game that came with the $50 demo of Metal Gear Solid 2". (It was a marketing thing, Konami wanted to boost the sales of ZOE. It didn't quite work.) To this day, that line pisses me off. GRRR!!!

Anyway, ZOE2 follows a new pilot, Dingo Egret (I know, the name is dumb. Get over it.) who after an accident finds himself physically BONDED to the orbital frame, Jehuty. You can imagine the fun THAT'S going to be for him! Especially when Leo comes back piloting the Vic Viper, (Yes, it's a Gradius reference. That battle was simply awesome! You never realize how powerful that little 8-bit ship is until you have to fight it yourself!) gunning to get Jehuty back. Since ZOE2 takes place only 2 years after ZOE, Leo is still annoying, but slightly less so. The major note for ZOE2 was that the game made a giant leap forward in tech with the seamless blending of actual anime footage into the gameplay. (Paving the way for games like Catherine.)

At the same time, the producers also released an OVA (original video animation) that would serve as a prequel for the video game series AND a new 26 episode anime series ZOE: Dolories, i. ZOE2 was well received by fans and critics but it was overshadowed by other major titles and didn't really do as well as it could have done.So, after all of that, why am I writing about this? That's simple, my dear readers! In about two weeks, they are going to release the Zone of Enders HD collection!!!

They've updated all the interfaces to HD standards, created brand new opening animations, as well as recreated the original opening animations for HD. This release is for the PS3, Vita and for the first time ever, the Xbox 360! And paving the way for critics to downplay this release, Konami, in it's infinite wisdom, decided to include a demo of Metal Gear Rising: Revengance with this collection. If I hear someone call this "the free HD game that accompanied the $40 Revengance demo" I will rip their heart out and sacrifice it to the Mayan god of corn!!

But I can forgive Konami for this slip up. I can. No really, I can. Why? Because the creator himself, Mr. Hideo Kojima himself said that planning has begun for ANOTHER game in the Zone of The Enders series!!! Granted it's seriously early planning, but it's better than nothing!! Now, I will leave you with a clip of the new opening animation for the HD collection.

So, after watching that, anyone interested in the game?? You better be, Anubis is watching you!

1 comment:

  1. Eh, I'm not a fan of this series. I only bought the first game at the time because it came with a demo of the upcoming MGS2: Sons of Liberty. I have a huge dislike of giant mech cartoons and games.

    This HD collection does look pretty cool, though. I only wish Kojima could have gotten them to give the orginal Metal Gear Solid (1998) an HD makeover.