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Zone of the Enders
Review By: Joe Rolfe
Developer:   Konami
Publisher:   Konami
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Action
ESRB:   Teen
Date Posted:   5-14-01

Despite the fact that most mech games or past titles heavily weighed down on with Japanese themes/atmosphere have never really struck huge sales with the mainstream U.S. core, Zone of the Enders (ZOE), since itís initial showing, has received quite a bit of hype. Unquestionably due to itís early screenshots featuring exhilarating visuals (not to mention Mr. Metal Gear Solid himself, Hideo Kojima, was the leader designer), Zone of the Enders had a lot to live up to. After all, constantly being hounded with the name-association of the man responsible for one of (if not the) most popular PSone game of all time wonít exactly give you secrecy from the media. Of course, we all know how much a burden high praises from the journalistic community can be to a graphically enticing game (read: The Bouncer.)

Nevertheless, ZOE does come through in a few key aspects. Obviously, Konami has blessed us with some of the sharpest and most glamorous graphics, making any other PS2 action title before it look like an old Master System title does to, well, the PlayStation 2. (Okay, maybe not that drastically, but you get my point.) Also, for better or for worse, Kojimaís attempt to create a true cinematic masterpiece progresses a step farther with the semi-epic journey found in Zone of the Enders. Overall, ZOE isnít close to a let down or a so-called "bomb". However, itís not without its problems.

As did Hideo Kojima handle Metal Gear Solid, ZOEís concentration is on telling a stimulating, metaphorical story involving characters built upon the same Questioning-Morals-And-Life archetype that Kojima-san displayed in Metal Gear Solid. This is how Konami so promptly outlined the story:

"In the remote reaches of the solar system in the 22nd century, there is a colony on Jupiter called "Antilia" In a sudden outbreak of war, a shy youth named Leo Stenbuck loses his friends right before his eyes. Blaming himself for not being able to save them, he panicked and ran away from the scene of the attack, inadvertently stumbling onto the cause of the war, the Orbital Frame "Jehuty", a colossal war machine with a human form that holds the key to civilization's existence."

Throughout the game, Leo struggles between what he considers good for himself and his family as opposed to what the Jehutyís "brain" thinks. In essence, Leo tries to understand life and itís rights and wrongs.

After only a few minutes of initial play, itís painfully obvious to acknowledge how fantastic ZOEís visuals really are. Crisp, sharp models, brilliant displays of flashes and explosions as well as some of the best examples of how the PS2 can do lighting help illustrate Zone of the Enderís dazzling aesthetic world. Thereís no frame rate hiccups whatsoever and hints of slowdown are practically non-existent. Even with a handful of enemies on the screen (not to mention Leoís own Jehuty), the action in ZOE never slows down. The only annoyance I found is the repetitive (youíll be seeing that word a lot) textures in the game. Itís not as if the colors are washed out Ė quite the contrary Ė but the cities and even enemies themselves basically share the same repeating texture wallpapered on to them. This is merely nitpicking, but it does become kind of stale to look at the same handful of colored plaster to each level.

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