If you are like me, you bought the original Zone of the Enders for one reason: to collect the coveted Metal Gear Solid 2 demo it came packed with. Also if you were like me, you ended up finally popping the disc in your PS2 and realizing that ZoE ended up being a pretty fun game. Konami doesn’t have the best track record for delivering HD versions of their games to this generation, and with Zone of the Enders HD carrying yet another Metal Gear demo in its case, expectations were kept in check. In the end, the latest HD package comes out somewhere in the middle, with both issues and moments of brilliance.
Anyone who played the originals will quickly tell you that the first game was a testing ground. A lot of what it did was solid, but the short campaign (clocking in at around five hours) was certainly disappointing. Most of you will spend the bulk of your time with the sequel, The 2nd Runner. One of the highlights of both games, though, was their impressive frame rate. These games ran silky smooth on PS2 hardware back in the day. This makes it all the more perplexing how, ten years later, they come packed with slowdown. Both versions, PS3 and 360, are plagued by action which simply doesn’t run as smoothly as their PS2 counterpart.
Now, it is worth noting that both games have received massively improved textures and resolution. When the game runs smoothly, it is gorgeous. The environments in the first game felt repetitious, but the second game really opened them up. These things are beautiful, and could easily be mistaken for games of this generation. Sadly, the frame rate continues to rear its ugly head throughout both campaigns.
If you can deal with that, what you get is two highly impressive experiences. The one thing HD collections usually have issues with is upgrading controls to the modern style. Gamers have been trained on the dual-analog control scheme and know how almost every game plays. ZoE really does well translating to that scheme. Once you get into the game the controls just feel right. The only adjustment I had to make was ascending/descending with the face buttons. Everything else was spot-on. The game is also intense more often than not. Engaging with other mechs high up in the sky is exhilarating. Also, the swarm lock-on missiles are still an impressive sight to see.
Another cool addition exclusive to this HD pack are the newly added features to The 2nd Runner. Originally only released in Asian and European markets, the special edition of the game featured a new difficulty level, extra missions and VR training, all of which are found here. There is also a nice animated feature that ties the two games together created by animation studio Sunrise. Truly, The 2nd Runner is by far the more impressive of the two games, and even after all of these years it holds up well.
About that Metal Gear Rising demo…
So, a lot of people are also interested in a demo that comes packed with ZoE HD. Platinum Games is at the helm of the latest Metal Gear title, and it shows. This is more action-oriented and features Raiden as opposed to Snake. Here is a quick rundown of what that demo entails.
First off, it is worth noting that the PS3 version is a download code weighing in at over 3GB. It is also worth noting that the demo has some serious bugs on PS3 causing system hard locks, requiring you to restart your console. The Xbox 360 version comes on a second disc and has none of the aforementioned issues.
As for the game itself it feels a lot like a Bayonetta: third-person action with a heavy emphasis on combos. The coolest feature is being able to hold down the left trigger and aim your blade for a precise cut. The satisfaction of slicing an enemy at any angle and watching the carnage rarely disappoints. The controls are fluid and the story as campy as ever, meaning it is a Metal Gear game at heart. I was excited before, but the demo has me even more pumped to play the game when it launches next year.
Zone of the Enders HD Collection is a solid package that truly only suffers from its technical flaws. The frame rate might not have been such an issue if the original hadn’t been so smooth. As it stands, being able to finally play both games on Xbox 360 and having them in one nice package is almost worth it, unless of course you still own them on PS2. Any way you slice it, it is hard to argue the value of the box. Zone of the Enders was unique when it originally launched, and truthfully there hasn’t been much like it since, making this collection definitely one to check out.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.