Konami has once again reached back to the previous generation to pull together a compilation of their fast-paced mech series, Zone of the Enders. Zone of the Enders HD Collection includes ZOE 1 and 2, both given a HD visual upgrade along with various extras.
The Zone of the Enders series holds an interesting place in the PS2 history where it debuted. ZOE1 was known best not for being Hideo Kojima's first game where he worked as a producer, or because it was the first game to show off the power of the PS2, but because it had demo to Metal Gear Solid 2. It was also one of the first major games that was criticized for its short length taking less than 6 hours to beat. Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, on the other hand, was considered a sleeper hit going under the radar of the general public, but winning over anyone who played it, earning a lot of positive reviews
Is ZOE HD Collection a worthy pickup for fans of the series and those that missed out on the games back on the PS2 or should it be avoided like the Silent Hill HD Collection?
THE AWESOME ZONE
Same Giant Mech Fun - Playing through both ZOE games, I was reminded why the series is so sadly underappreciated and fun they are. You're controlling a giant mech fighting other mechs in a Gundam-type fashion. You have your single shot laser, then your spread laser that can attack dozens of enemies at once, a sword, and most importantly, the ability to grab a robot and use it to beat on other robots. How can anyone not find that to be fun? Both games have the same fast-paced action, but you still have that experience of controlling a giant mech. It's fun and rarely boring.
Beautiful Visuals - Back in 2001 when ZOE1 first came, it was one of the best looking games at the time. More than a decade and a HD upgrade later, it still looks pretty good. Last time I played ZOE1 was about three years back before I decided to fully disconnect my PS2 from my TV, and it had problems holding its own. However, with a shiny coat of HD added to the game, you can easily compare the game visuals to some of the games released this gen. Of course, that comparison stops when you realize that while the mechs look great, there's hardly any detail in the environments. As for ZOE2, a game that looked even better than ZOE1 back on the PS2, it is obviously going to be the better looking of the two albeit with the same levels having the same boring environments.
Nice Extras - A good compilation has some nice extras to accompany it. When you consider that you can buy both games used for about $20 and the ZOE HD Collection costs $40, there needs to be a little extras to make the collection worthwhile. Of course there's the improved visuals, some very nice anime opening, achievements/trophies, and OMG METAL GEAR RISING REVENGEANCE!! Yes in keeping with the tradition started with the first ZOE on the PS2, ZOE HD Collection has a demo disc for the upcoming Metal Gear Rising Revengeance. Granted, this demo is not as highly anticipated as MGS2 and it'll be available for download soon, but hey, playing it before everyone else can is a nice extra.
ZONE OF THE LAGGERS
A Touch of Lag - For some odd reason, both ZOE games have some input lag. When you press an attack button, it's not instantaneous. When playing, I'm reminded of the input lag of a game of Street Fighter 4 when you have a mediocre connection. Although it's easy to play the game with the lag, and hopefully Konami will be able to patch this, it's still a shame that this somehow made its way into the game.
I can say that Zone of the Enders HD Collection is not as troublesome as the last collection Konami released, the Silent Hill HD Collection. It plays great, has some nice extras, and doesn't make you wish to dig up the original copies of the game. This is how collections need to be treated. Not as ways to make a quick buck, but rather as a treasure trove of greatness that is easily accessible for gamers.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*