Completely Non-Ironic High Speed Robot Action
While Zone of the Enders is not high on the list of all time PS2 classics, the fast paced, mecha combat game helmed by Hideo Kojima has a devoted following. It reviewed well, and provided a unique experience comparable to something like Bayonetta or its contemporary Devil May Cry, but with giant robots. Of course, being a Hideo Kojima project, it’s also rife with exposition, obvious Japanese to English translations (whenever someone repeats a sentence that was just spoken, you know the game is Japanese) and an unapologetically baroque plot. Now the original games are the latest addition to the HD Port family, and… they’re slower than the original.
Giant Robots For The ADD Generation
When Hideo Kojima wasn’t working on his signature Metal Gear series, he would try something a little different and bit more futuristic with the Zone of the Enders series. Combining elements of science fiction anime staples like Gundam and Evangelion, Zone of the Enders posits a world where colonies of the solar system are torn by strife, and a young boy finds himself in the pilot seat of a giant robot. This being a Kojima game there’s also a fair amount of pseudo-existential angst, but back in the early 00s when almost no one was doing this, it was a breath of fresh air. Today it feels a little stale, but the revamped presentation makes up for it.Somewhat.
Although not as high profile as the Metal Gear Solid or Silent Hill ports, the ZOE collection is one Konami collection that contains all the games in the series. Like the MGS port, there’s also the addition of extra VR missions that were included in later editions of the game, as well as a completely new anime opening set to the theme song from ZOE2. Like many games of the PS2 era that placed an emphasis on art direction over polygon count, the ZOE series actually holds up pretty well with sharpened textures and a 16:9 aspect ratio. This is all good, but what really disappoints is the frame rate. Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 are a generation more powerful than the PS2 and yet these HD ZOE games feel—and play—slower than the originals. It’s never enough to make the game unplayable and for people that have never played the PS2 version, it’s quite likely unnoticeable. But for actual fans of the series that still have a launch PS3 or an old PS2 lying around, a quick comparison of the HD and original versions shows that the older games do indeed play at a faster speed with a smoother frame rate. Zone of the Enders—or at least ZOE2—was lauded by many gamers for a great sense of pacing, variety, and blazing fast speed. The HD versions seem to have sacrificed speed for smooth, jaggy-free graphics, and the hardcore fans may not appreciate the trade-off. On the other hand, the new HD versions are much more consistent about holding their lower frame rates. The original PS2 version was blindingly fast at its best, but when too much activity occurred, the frame rate would take a dramatic hit. That doesn’t really happen here.
In the end, the ZOE HD collection seems to be a case of “choose your poison.” If you’re all about the hyperkinetic speed of the original, you might want to just stick with your PS2 discs if you have them. If that kind of performance isn’t an issue, and it’s more important that you play the game in widescreen with shiny, smooth visuals, then the HD port will be just fine. It’s just a shame that, unlike Sony, Konami can’t seem to really get a grip on putting out an HD port that is a no-brainer improvement over its previous generation incarnations.