Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is not your ordinary mech game. Instead of lumbering behemoths battling on the ground, you get Jehuty, a fast, flying mech with a plentiful arsenal and lots of tricks.
Konami has fixed almost all of the problems from the first game, by making the storyline more interesting, a less whiny main character and much more action than the original.
This game looks very nice, with beautiful attacks. For example, one of Jehuty’s nicest looking moves involves making a giant swirling blue ball of energy and flinging it at an opponent. Also, the mech designs in this game are very well done, which isn’t too surprising considering it’s made by the same man who did the Metal Gear Solid games, Hideo Kojima. I was really surprised how well the game engine handled all the enemies on the screen, considering how much action is usually going on. There’s not much slowdown except in a few parts, and it’s easily forgivable. One thing that I just have to praise is the easy transition this game makes from an animated cutscene, anime style, right back into the action. It’s basically seamless, and really helps to make the game seem more movie like than game.
The soundtrack to this game is very good, with tracks varying from some catchy techno to soft ballads. The voice acting in this game is pretty solid except in a few parts, where you can’t help but laugh at the execution of some lines.
The gameplay is superb and has definitely improved since the last game. The first game had some OK fights, a pretty crappy storyline and was much too short. This time around, battles are much more intense and fast paced. Both storyline and length of game has improved dramatically. Jehuty has a few new moves, like grabbing nearby objects to swing or throw and gets a few different upgrades as the story progresses. Fighting in this game is almost always enjoyable, though the boss fights can be very infuriating .Many times I had to spend 30 minutes or more trying to defeat a certain boss. The games difficulty may turn off some, but despite that, I still found it to be very entertaining. If you can manage to beat the game, you unlock vs. mode. This is where two players go at it in eight different mechs. Three of which you have to find and defeat in secret locations throughout the game. This mode is very fun if you have a friend to play against and can easily take up hours of your time.
The story for ZOE: The 2nd Runner takes place two years after the first and revolves around an ex-soldier turned miner, Dingo Egret (yes, the poor guy has the name of two Australian animals). Dingo stumbles across Jehuty, the mech from the first game, and uses it to go against BAHRAM, his old employer who betrayed him and is now trying to take over the universe. The storyline has been much improved since the last, which was so clich? it was almost unplayable. There are plenty of twists and turns this time through and the story is much less predictable.
There’s a lot more replayability here than what you might think. With the vs. mode, the secret mechs to be found and the ability to find extra missions after you beat the game, there’s plenty to do. When you start up another game, you get the choice of playing any one of the four different types of jehuty that are found throughout the game right from the beginning. You also already have all the weapons and abilities at your disposal.
I think that this time around, Hideo Kojima put forth a bigger effort to make the 2nd Runner the game the original should have been, and it definitely pays off. It’s gotten longer and the graphics and fighting have been improved, which definitely rekindled my interest in the series. I’d definitely recommend it to any mech fan out there to pick this one up, and even if you aren’t, you will not be disappointed.