Just like how Hollywood makes it known that by going to see a certain movie there will be a trailer for a much bigger, more anticipated movie, video games took part in that publicity stunt back in March 2001 with Zone of Enders. When gamers bought this game, they would get the demo for Metal Gear Solid 2. Obviously this gave Zone of Enders a much needed boost in sales and exposure. What gamers received was a game that looked great, played well but just was too damn short.
Z.O.E. has expanded from the original game to include multiple games and anime expanding on the story. The underlying story of Z.O.E. is that in the future Earth colonized Mars and Jupiter. Over time, these colonies were looked down upon by the people from Earth calling the colonists "enders". This leads to a variety of social disputes between the "enders" and the people from Earth growing into major conflicts between the two forces. The weapons used by the two groups are Orbital Frames which are the stereotypical Japanese giant mecha robots.
Now the story for the Z.O.E. game is not as vast or in-depth. It's good but once you try out the other Z.O.E. games/anime, you'll be impressed with how deep the story goes. The protagonist of the game is Leo Stenbuck who is a youth in the colony of Antilia which is a satellite of Jupiter. During a skirmish between two forces, Leo stumbles across an Orbital Frame called Jehuty. To save his own skin, he climbs into Jehuty and goes through the process of learning to pilot this frame thanks to the AI. What follows is a classic tale of loss of innocence when Leo has to grow up, and make those tough decisions that come about during war.
Being a mech game, Z.O.E. was really one of the first games to provide fast action on a large scale along the lines of mech anime. While controlling Jehuty, there are a variety of weapons at your disposal from a grab move to grab hold of nearby enemies then throw them into other enemies, a sword to provide wide damage for multiple enemies or to a single enemy, and even a giant Dragonball Z type energy sphere to provide major damage to enemies. Overall, the combat is fast and full of action with no real downside to it. It's fun, easy to get used to and just works very well. All action takes place on a designated area that's really a part of a city with even small buildings included. There will be multiple enemies to defeat, and boss battles will be throw in the mix. These boss battles, like most boss battles, require a bit more patience, timing, and planning in order to take down the bosses because brute force will simply not work.
For the time when this game came out, it really impressed everyone and with good reason. The presentation was top notch, as expected with a Hideo Kojima as producer. There's a lot of detail with the Orbital Frames and the enemies giving a great look to the action that's going on. While the battlegrounds are small and limited, it's still presents that feeling that the action is happening on a bigger scale. Then we have the cutscenes that are still as good as any game released on the PS2. Although the voice acting leaves you a little wanting with the use of the same mediocre voice talent common with games that don't have the budget for good voice actor, the score is pretty good. It's futuristic but keeps that epic feeling making it perfect for the game.
While on the short side, 5-6 hours for most players, Zone of the Enders still offers a great experience. Even looking back today, the game still holds up and considering it was released in 2001, Z.O.E. truly showed what the future of the PS2 was going to be. Z.O.E. also showed gamers the inevitable future for games with games with amazing presentation but lacking in length.