Zone of the Enders The 2nd Runner: Mars (PlayStation 4) Review

By Michael Keener 15.09.2018

Review for Zone of the Enders The 2nd Runner: Mars on PlayStation 4

It's hard to say, looking back on the evolution of TV shows and videogames, when exactly the whole mech suit combat trend started to decline in public interest. It was a major success in the '90s and early-to-mid 2000s but since then it feels as though everything has already been explored. As of late there has been an undeniable resurgence in regards to the videogame aspect of this sub genre, and it seems to come and go with success. Zone of the Enders The 2nd Runner: Mars is one of those that released back in the day, roughly 15 years ago (2003). It is a third-person flying action title with strong characteristics of hack and slashers. Thanks to the mech suits, players will fly in every direction to avoid taking damage, while also strategically dishing out attacks to eliminate all who pose a threat to survival.

This is a sequel in a series of games, but generally there is little to be confused about if the first has not been experienced as the storytelling is done really well. In fact, it almost feels like watching an anime as all of the cut-scenes are made in this retro '90s style that older gamers and anime enthusiasts are sure to love (this is, of course, due to the original development time). It all begins on a tundra-based world when exploration turns into a fight for survival. The year is 2174 and the biggest threat to mankind is the BAHRAM military organisation that is tightening its grips on Mars and Earth.

These robotic foes are numerous and attack in swarms, which happens in the first main cut-scene. From here, the game transitions into the incredibly well done tutorial that players can explore based on their comfort levels. Several different lessons will teach everything from the basic controls of ascending and descending, boosting in different directions, attacking, and evading. Players are not forced to trudge along through lessons that may be too common sense for them, or the lessons altogether, if they are seasoned gamers - if one part is confusing, it can be replayed.

Screenshot for Zone of the Enders The 2nd Runner: Mars on PlayStation 4

While the gameplay may be extremely easy to grasp, the control system will determine the learning curve. Two options that can be thought of as a standard version and 'pro' version will give the option to swap weapons with the d-pad or shoulder/trigger buttons. It's a slight difference but one that will require a bit of muscle memory to master. Another key decision needing to be made early on is the difficulty level. There are four to choose from and three of them follow the typical easy, normal, and hard variations. The fourth, however, is focused on storytelling.

This is more so integrated for those who would like to play with the Virtual Reality mode, as it understandably will come with its own learning curve and controls. Motion controls would probably have worked out better, but everything is instead controlled with the DualShock controller. It starts easy at first, regardless of the difficulty or gameplay settings, but can really put a smack down on those who do not invest the time and motive to learn the dodging and boosting abilities later on.

Screenshot for Zone of the Enders The 2nd Runner: Mars on PlayStation 4

When faced with enemies, players will need to act quickly, yet strategically, to ensure victory. Attacking is done with one of the face buttons and the game will determine if it is a shot from a mounted gun or the swing of a melee weapon. It is judged and decided based on distance to the enemy. Strafing from side to side, shooting a barrage of bullets, and then quickly boosting in close to swing the melee weapon rapidly is one of the most fluid gameplay events experienced when the core element is mech suits.

On top of this, players can grab an enemy like a rag doll and baseball throw them across the battlefield (or sky), dealing a massive amount of damage and setting up more attacks. This, too, is both extremely entertaining and effective. As players progress, enemies will swarm in larger numbers, and bosses will emerge to put up tougher fights. Managing the battlefield will take time, but soon enough players will be controlling all of the fights as air traversal and shooting becomes second nature.

Screenshot for Zone of the Enders The 2nd Runner: Mars on PlayStation 4

It is important to note that this can be played entirely in VR or as normal on a TV or monitor. There is more to the Virtual Reality aspect than just 3D visuals as it changes the action from third-person to first-person. When playing in VR mode, it takes place in the cockpit of the mech suit. This, of course, looks really cool, but it doesn't measure up to some of the other options on the marketplace. If able to stomach the controls, games like RIGS Mechanised Combat League or Archangel are able to build better immersion from within the cockpit of their respective mechs.

That's not a slight towards Zone of the Enders, but more so a compliment to the original format and third-person experience it offers. Visibility is limited, but a variety of interface tools and cockpit monitors will help maintain awareness. It would be ludicrous to say this didn't have bright and lush environments, but flying around and fighting doesn't give much opportunity to soak it in; playing in VR mode doesn't detract from immersion in this regard. The cut-scenes remain in 2D between the gameplay acts.

Screenshot for Zone of the Enders The 2nd Runner: Mars on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Granted, outside of the Gundam games, there is little variety for mech combat games, but what is found in Zone of the Enders The 2nd Runner: Mars can be described as an old, almost forgotten game, being polished up into a fine piece of treasure. It's a hidden gem to many and a doorway to nostalgia for others. The updated gameplay that runs at a smooth 60fps and native 4K makes it feel as though it is an imagination developed in today's time. The work of Hideo Kojima is lovely, even from slightly older eyes, and it's an exciting movement from Konami that raises hopes for other works of art to be re-released soon.

Developer

Konami

Publisher

Konami

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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