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Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner PlayStation 2

Published by Konami
Developed by Konami
Released - Friday 26th September
Price : £39.99

With the spectacular success of the Metal Gear Solid series it's difficult to remember that Hideo Kojima is also responsible for other great titles. Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner shows that Kojima, who produced the game along with Yoji Shinkawa, can create games of a very different nature to the Metal Gear Solid series and yet still be a great game. It's time to step into the shoes of Dingo Egret and have some fun in Jehuty.

I've never played the original Zone of the Enders and if you're like me and also haven't played the game, the game is basically speaking a mech based combat game. I say basically because the game has more to it than simply being another mech game, it has a style all of its own which is hard to put into words. The game is set in the year 2174 and Earth and Mars are under attack from the BAHRAM military organisation which is using its new Orbital Frames mech-robot technology to terrorise the two planets. Early on in the game you gain control of the powerful Jehuty Orbital Frame and therefore you represent the best chance of survival for both Earth and Mars.

As combat is a major gameplay element of ZoE: The 2nd Runner it's a massive plus that Jehuty is easily controlled and that the battles themselves are challenging and offer a good variety. What makes the game more enjoyable though is the fact that you have to use different techniques to defeat the enemies you come across. It's simply not enough to carry out frantic button bashing and you have to learn your enemies weakness. Dash attacks, burst attacks, and blocks are all possible. There are also various missiles that you will have access to throughout the course of the game. Mech combat has never been so varied.

It's not always rewarding being a gamer in Europe. More often than not we have to wait until last to receive a game whilst Japan and the US have already being enjoying the game for many weeks (or months in some cases). However Konami have compensated us with ZoE: The 2nd Runner as it offers a few extras over other regions' versions. The PAL version has exclusive stages, added battle sequences and an all new opening sequence. There are also three new levels and two have been reworked to improve them. Two new difficulty modes have also been added.

Graphically the game is excellent. Of course it's widely publicised that the PlayStation 2 is the 'weakest' of the 3 major consoles. However when the game in question is handled by experts who know how to get the most out of the machine, the game not only looks stunning but also has a framerate to match too. The game has an Anime look about it. It looks fantastic and at times the cutscenes have a definite movie quality to them. The in game graphics are superb too and the biggest plus is that the framerate never seems to falter, even when hordes of enemies swarm around you. It's also impressive to see that many of the environments are destroyable too as this adds atmosphere and depth to the game.

ZoE: The 2nd Runner is mostly excellent for deaf gamers. Subtitles are on by default and all modes, the main game, the previous story, the tutorials and the VR missions are all subtitled. The games cutscenes are shown in letterbox format with the text being displayed in the borders. In game text messages are shown on a slightly darker overlay box so that the text visibility is always excellent. The only blip as it were, is that the introductory cutscene isn't subtitled but otherwise it's excellent. The force feedback has also been very well done and for once adds to the game.

ZoE: The 2nd Runner is simply put a very good game. Graphically it looks excellent. The camera can be a pain at times with the occasional enemy becoming awkward to see but it's nothing that sours the experience. The addition of the VR missions and the decent amount of unlockable features also extends the life of the game. If you're looking for an enjoyable mech game for your PS2 this is well worth considering.

Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10
ZoE: The 2nd Runner is a must for all of you that enjoy mech based games.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Apart from the lack of subtitles on the introduction everything else is fine for deaf gamers.