A game that is really not talked about much at all, it’s one of my favourite PS2 games and especially one of my favourite games that I went into with zero expectations. Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is the sequel to the Zone of the Enders original game (which I’ve still never played) and is a fantastic mech combat game that makes me wish all Gundam games were like this.
Right off the bat, the story starts off by being very cool with having anime cutscenes, which is always a plus for me, I’ll take those any day. Hell, I wish more games today would still do that. The plot of the game is pretty generic to say the least, we start off with Dingo Egret and ex-BAHRAM member and now miner. When he finds an Orbital Frame buried there, which turns out to be the Jehuty frame from the original game, he finds himself under attack by the absolutely gorgeous Ken Marinaris. After the scuffle, the real interesting plot device happens as Dingo is essentially shot and killed by the main villain, Nohman when refusing to rejoin BAHRAM. Ken however has the people on the station revive him and put him back in the Jehuty frame, acting as a power supply for Dingo’s heart. So after refusing to join Ken in the first place, he now has no choice, as if he leaves Jehuty, his heart will stop and he will die. However, Ken is actually a spy in BAHRAM, so helping her actually leads more to his new revenge objective, so he carries on. The story however is meh at best, it’s more the gameplay and the odd anime cutscene that really makes this game memorable for me.
Speaking of the gameplay, this is where the game truly shines. I have played a ton of hack and slash kinds of games, beat ’em ups, mech games, Dynasty Warriors, many many different games that fall into this style of fighting gameplay. No game to this day has touched where Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner has for me. I absolutely adore this fighting system, it’s so fast-paced yet the game keeps up with it extremely well. The changing of speeds, altitudes, taking pieces from the levels and using them as weapons or as projectiles, there’s just so much to love about the game’s mechanics.
The range of enemies as well are also fantastic, just the base enemies alone offer enough variety that you have to change your tactics at any time. Some enemies you have to fight head-on with everything you’ve got, other enemies you end up using long-range and even your mass-tracking missiles that never get boring to shoot and watched 10+ targets just disappear. The bosses as well offer a great challenge, some with cool gimmicks as well. While the fights with Vic Viper and Anubis are some of the more intense fights, a boss battle like the one with Zakat offers a much different style of fight and just keeps the game from ever getting boring, given how easy it is for games with fighting mechanics like these to do so.
If you’re looking for a mech game, this is a no-brainer, you’ve probably already played this game a number of times. But if you haven’t, or maybe you just never looked into this series due to it being more sci-fi than anything else, maybe you’re not into that. I gotta tell ya, this game will change your opinion, it’s that good. There’s few games of this nature that have ever grabbed my attention and this is the only one that I’m more than willing to talk about in great detail. The game is solid gameplay-wise, looks fantastic even for a PS2 game (the HD remasters improve it even more) and like I said, anime cutscenes. More of that shit, please!