Leo Stenbuck is an inhabitant of one of Earth’s colonies on Jupiter, Antilla, and is just going about life as normal when his colony comes under attack. In the chaos, he happens upon Jehuty, an artificial intelligence based orbital frame powered by an invaluable resource called metatron. He discovers that the colony was being attacked by a group of separatists known as BAHRAM who’s objective was to obtain two cutting edge and incredibly powerful orbital frames, one of which is Jehuty. Leo gets recruited by a Space Force commander, Elena, to pilot Jehuty back to their ship so that they can escape with it and prevent it from falling into the hands of BAHRAM. On his way, he rescues one of his friends Celvice, who persuades him into pulling off some rescue missions to the dismay of Elena, but who goes along with it. He also becomes much closer to the AI of Jehuty, who is named ADA. Near the end of this journey he encounters the other orbital frame, Anubis, who he barely manages to escape from, but still manages to complete his mission. However, he also discovers that the plan for Jehuty was to have it self destruct to take out of the main BAHRAM base in Aumann, killing ADA in the process, which causes him to escape with Jehuty and hide it.
Years later, the conflict between the Space Force and BAHRAM is escalating. An ex-BAHRAM soldier, Dingo, stumbles upon Jehuty, and pilots it. He ends up being captured by the main BAHRAM commander Nohman, who he was previously an underling of, who wishes for him to pilot Jehuty for him in the future, which he refuses to do, resulting in Nohman shooting him. However, Nohman’s underling Ken saves him, and helps him escape with Jehuty, at which point he joins with Leo and the Space force in their conflict against BAHRAM, starting off with finding a way to unlock Jehuty’s true potential.
Zone of the Enders is a duology of games directed by Hideo Kojima. It certainly has some of his flare, though not to the extremes that you often find in Metal Gear Solid. Both of the games are good, though the first is incredibly rough in many ways, with the second being a major improvement, hence I will review them both separately.
For the first, the entire plot was random and wasn’t pushed forward much at all. The entirety of the game felt like a prologue, and then it just ends, which is best seen in the fact that beating the final boss ultimately just revolves around staying alive long enough to escape, suggesting another conflict to come, at which point it’s suddenly over. In terms of characters, Leo is an awfully frustrating character, and Celvice doesn’t get any development whatsoever.
The combat is pretty good, but the controls could be really finicky at times. There wasn’t much strategy involved in dealing with enemies but the battle system was implemented well enough that it still felt very satisfying. However, there are only three types of enemies other than bosses, which led to things feeling repetitive. There’s also special missions called rescue missions, which are a unique concept, involving defeating enemies before they destroy the surrounding town, and making sure not to destroy the town either, but they felt incredibly frustrating and random, which I ultimately hated passionately. Second off, in terms of figuring out where to go, it’s one thing to explore or to listen closely for clues, it’s another to just randomly go from zone to zone until you find something, which I felt fit more so what happened here.
The music was a bit weird at first but it grew on me and I began to really like it. It used a lot of CGI, which may have looked good at the time, but aged terribly. Overall a lot of great concepts, but really roughly implemented.
The sequel was tremendous improvement, primarily in that it was a lot less rough and more polished. The plot is tremendously more interesting, and a lot more of what you’d expect from Kojima. Dingo and Ken and their relationship is a lot more interesting than Leo and Celvisse. However, Leo does also sees a major improvement in character, though Celvisse is nowhere to be found. The ending is also tremendously solid.
For the most part combat and movement controlled better, though the new scattershot for dealing with swarms of enemies was a bit more finicky. The subweapons are a lot more useful and diverse as compared to how they’re all almost the same in the first one and not explained very well. There was also a lot more enemy variety, and bosses were also a lot more interesting. Overall, this results in much more satisfying combat. There were still rescue missions that I didn’t really like, but they were tweaked to be more bearable than in the first, and there were fewer of them, though they were certainly more intense. In one sense it was more linear than the previous game in the sense that you couldn’t choose what areas to go to and you generally knew where exactly to go, but each area was a lot more open which I felt suited this a lot better.
The music was still great, the OP especially I really liked. It now used anime cut scenes which looked good and were far superior to the aged CGI in the previous game.
A fast paced mech series series that has a rough start but certainly manages to each its potential in its second installment.