When Zone of the Enders released back in April of 2001, it was one of the most anticipated titles for the PS2, for all the wrong reasons. Millions of gamers lined up to purchase this game, most of them simply wanting the pack in demo of the super hyped Metal Gear Solid 2. However, even those with little interest in the actual game found themselves surprised by the incredible game that was Zone of the Enders. An incredibly revolutionary title, Z.O.E. blended mech battle gameplay with cinematic elements similar to the Metal Gear Solid series. The result was a brilliant game that impressively blended several genres. Now, legendary Hideo Kojima brings us the second installment in the series, which builds on both the success and the story of its predecessor.
Set just a few years after the first game, Second Runner starts out with Bahram Commander Nohman overseeing the completion of a super weapon- an orbital frame named Aumaan. The completion of this weapon will surely mean continued dominance by the Bahram, unless someone can save the day. This is where the 'second runner', Dingo, comes into play. A former soldier turned miner, Dingo happens upon the Jehuty shortly before a Bahram raid party finds it as well. At the end of the encounter, Dingo is badly wounded and fully dependant upon the Jehuty to maintain his life support. Caught inside the orbital frame, Dingo cannot leave the cockpit or his respiratory system will fail. However, the Jehuty is an intricate part of the UNSF's plan to defeat the Bahram, making Dingo an involuntary and unlikely hero. The game will also feature Leo Stenbuck, the young hero from the first game. Not much older, Leo is nonetheless a combat veteran and pilot of his own frame, the Vic Viper. How he will fit into the story is not known as of yet, but it should be interesting to find out.
Many people had mixed feelings towards the first game, due to its revolutionary, and therefore somewhat problematic gameplay. While absolutely stunning from a visual perspective, the environments were rather limited in terms of size and interactivity. Konami promises this will not be the case in the second game, as it will boast larger environments, ranging from Jupiter to Mars, including areas on land, in the air, and even in space. Also, the game will allow for certain debris to be used in the gameplay, such as the ability to turn debris in the game into offensive projectile weapons, or defensive shields.
Even more impressive is the enhanced capabilities of the Jehuty. With the ability to lock onto and attack several enemies at once, as well as the ability to instantly teleport to various locations on the battlefield, Jehuty is more than beefed up, to say the least. Additionally, Jehuty also has a number of extra sub weapons, such as homing lasers, energy mines, anti ship cannons, and more. Look for this to greatly enhance the combat in Z.O.E. 2, as gamers will now have many more options available to them.
As stated before, the first game in this series was nothing short of gorgeous. The second game in the series looks to be even more impressive, especially if you are a fan of Japanese anime. The game will include even more anime-inspired effects, including a new 'toon-shading' technique on smoke clouds and other effects. Metal Gear Solid 2 veteran Shuyo Murata is taking the reigns as lead designer, and we all know how beautiful that game was. Look for Second Runner to be just as visually impressive.
With beefed up gameplay and graphics, as well as the inclusion, and return, of many of the first game's leading characters, Zone of Enders 2: The Second Runner is shaping up rather nicely. It is always a big deal when Kojima is working on a game, as we have all witnessed from his spectacular work with the Metal Gear Solid series. Now, it appears, that hype may cross over to his other endeavors. With the massive talents behind this game, coupled with a little luck, the second game in this series may very well end up silencing critics, and giving gamers a real reason to buy this installment.
9/28/2002 Ryan Hartmann