Cam’s Eye View: Zone of the Enders HD Collection for the PS3 and 360 review

This week’s review will cover a lot of gamer’s favorite punching bag for political espionage, who happens to be one of the big wigs at Konami, Hideo Kojima.  Even though he does make great games, it is easy to make fun of him. I respect him and think he is one of the greatest game designers on earth. He helped produce one of my favorite games from 2010, Castlevania Lords of Shadow, and of course, he is known for his Metal Gear franchise that has been around for more than 20 years. The reason why I say it’s easy to make fun of him is because of how he loves to have the stories in the Metal Gear games get filled with politics, espionage, and war.  Even if you can make fun of the story within the Metal Gear world, the stories are solid and make you really invest your time in that franchise’s universe. There is no other franchise quite like Metal Gear, with its mix of stealth and action gameplay, epic bosses, some tongue-and-cheek humor from here and there, and amazing music. It is weird to think that Kojima HAS made other games. He made cult favorite games like Snatcher and Policenaughts. While I would love to try those games out, I don’t think I have the money or ways of getting both games, especially Policenaughts, since it is in Japanese. I had to look at another set of games he has worked on that came over here in the states, and I have found them, the Zone of the Ender Games. While it is a hugely flawed series with the first game being just okay, it is an interesting series to find out about, and now it’s easier with the HD collection out with the demo of Metal Gear Rising. Why not take a look? Let’s see if this HD collection is worth it.

I am going to tackle this like I did with the God of War Origins and do a short summary of the two games’ stories. The first game’s story revolves around a young boy named Leo Stenbuck, voiced by Remy Le Bouff, who also voices Leo in the second game. He is living in a colony in space. This game takes place about a hundred years in the future, by the way. After Leo’s colony gets attacked by an enemy force, he stumbles upon this game’s Gundam-like robot known as Jehuty. The main robots in this universe are called Orbital Frames, which are slick, slender robots that have, um, very phallic designs to them. I mean, the cockpit is where the, um, groin is. Anyway, Leo, with the help of Jehuty, must stop the enemy force known as BAHRAM from taking over the colonies and Mars. The second game begins a few years later from the first one, and stars an ex-BAHRAM pilot known as Dingo Egret, voiced by Peter Barto. He works as an ice miner, and while on the job, he stumbles upon a large steel box with the Orbital Frame Jehuty inside. After he finds this massive mech, BAHRAM decides to attack the planet he is on, and it is up to Dingo to take the pilot seat of Jehuty and once again save everyone. He gets the help of the first game’s protagonist, who now pilots an Orbital Frame named after the pilot in Gradius, Vic Viper.  The initial problems that pop up with these games are the stories. The first game’s story is way too slow and the game ends right when it seems like it is about to get good. I never like it when stories are handled like this. It’s like when a game obviously has a cliffhanger ending to lead to a sequel or a DLC expansion. The second game’s story is better, with a better protagonist and what not, but that really isn’t saying much. It seems like the more I played, the more plot holes appeared that left me uninterested and not wanting to invest my time within the game’s story, which, in my opinion, is a game design flaw.

The gameplay in both games is in the form of a fast-paced action game where you pilot the Jehuty and fight multiple robot enemies. Well, that is kind of a lie. The second one is a fast-paced action game, while the first game is much slower in pace and in combat. The first game basically has you going to different locations in the colony and eventually getting to Mars. You have to complete certain tasks, like destroying all the enemy groups, or fighting a boss. Sometimes, you cannot progress unless you have a specific item with you, which means you have to go back to an earlier level and do something else to get the item to progress further in the game. The second game is much more linear, and while having some exploration features, is more of a linear experience. Both games have the same controls with the same sub-weapons that can be used to tackle different enemies or bosses. Sometimes, it’s mandatory to use a secondary weapon to take care of a boss. The second game is much more fun, since the enemies aren’t usually slow and boring, and are much more aggressive. The bosses are one of the better things about both games with great artistic designs to them, but they can vary in difficulty and fun, depending on what you would consider to be a fun boss fight. Overall, you get some side activities with both games, and both games in total will take about 12 hours or so. The first game is rather short, but seems longer due to some complaints I will explain later, and the second game took 6 hours for me to beat.

The graphics were nice looking, besides a few CG cut scenes in the first game looking a bit Claymation-style. The HD versions of both games do look great, which helps make the art style of the same artist who does the concept art for the Metal Gear games look awesome.  I’ll admit though, the designs are still weird. I mean, yeah, I can see where they were going with the robot designs, but when the cockpit is where the groin is and when the robot is in flight-mode, the cockpit stands up like a um, well um, you get the idea. The music is also rather solid with a lot of solid techno beats. The intro song for both games and the HD collection intro-animated cut scene didn’t pull me in at first, but I grew to love it as time went on. The voice acting is, to say the least, terrible in the first game, but corny and enjoyable in the second game.

So, what is wrong with this collection and the games in general? Is the collection wonky with just one solid game and a demo of an even better game that was heading our way in the future? Well, yeah, it is, to be honest. The first Zone of the Enders game is just flat out boring and tedious. Nothing really picks up storywise until the end of the game, and once it gets interesting, the game ends. The second game’s story, while more solid, I couldn’t find myself investing in either since I just didn’t care for characters in both games. A lot of people had harsh criticism for the first game, like the first game was just a tech demo and the only good thing about it is that it had Kojima’s name on it and the demo for Metal Gear Solid 2, and I can see why people would say that. The first game is just average and nothing really worthwhile. It is slow and boring. That shouldn’t be the issue with a game where you pilot a giant flipping robot! It really shouldn’t be that hard. Oh, this game also has one of those things where in order to get the good ending, you need to not let this or that happen. Well, thank you game for telling me this…oh, wait, no it doesn’t! I hate it when games will give you a good or bad ending, but will not tell you how you will get either ending. The second game, however, suffers from being slightly tedious and having some of the same issues, with only a few tedious side missions, where the first game had a whole lot of side missions you had to complete to progress. Of course, it never tells you where you need to go to do that side quest. It is extremely obnoxious having to fly around to different locations in the first game to complete side quests that aren’t fully explained to you. I don’t need my hand held, but I would like to know where the %$#@ to go! I’m sorry, but I hate it when games do this to me. The second game suffers from being probably too linear and having its own set of tedious missions. Adding to those missions and some unexplained things that you need to do, is a rather unbalanced final boss. The final boss in the second game is TERRIBLE! Again, a giant robot game and its bosses shouldn’t be that hard to make super exciting. I want to feel good I played through a great final boss, but nope! It felt like a chore to get the boss’s health down to zero. Granted, I liked the ending of the second game, but that isn’t a good enough reward for putting me through a tedious boss fight. I think this is what both games really suffer from, lack of any reward for the work you put into the game. Most characters aren’t interesting, the combat in the first game is boring as heck, and it can sometimes feel like a chore to play through both games. Granted the second game doesn’t suffer as much from this problem of giving the players rewards, but it is still an issue.  I know this whole reward system seems like an minor thing, but if I want to play through your game, you have to give me a good reason to make me want to play it over and over, and I honestly can’t find myself playing these games over and over.

Overall, this is a decent collection of games, but I think the main redeeming thing about this collection is that the second game is more solid than the first one, and it has the demo of a much better game. If you haven’t picked up this collection yet, I would get the limited edition if you can. It has some stuff that makes up for the bland and boring first game in the collection. If you just want to check this collection out, rent it or get it on the cheap side. I do hope that the third game that is currently being made by Kojima himself is better. It should be since he is using his new game engine that the new Metal Gear Solid is using. Sadly and admittedly, as time goes by, the novelty of this collection will wear thin with gamers probably just want to play the second game. Sure, you get a demo of Metal Gear Rising Revengeance, but by now you will probably have a copy of this full game, making the demo useless you want to do a video on how different the demo and final game are from one another. Even though I ended this review being rather negative on the collection, do check it out since the second game is really solid and worth playing. Let us hope we can pilot a new robot in the near future in the Zone of the Ender series.

This collection gets a 7 out of 10.

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