Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner PSVR Review
Take yourself to a place years after the events of Zone of the Enders and take control of the Orbital Frame of Jehuty, controlled by the Mars’ military leader Dingo Egret. This first person hack and slash PSVR game contains a very involved plot, fun/in depth combat and a unique game play style.
Genre: Story Driven FPS combat game
Controller: Dual Shock
Game Length: 6-7 hours
Price: 29.99 USD
PlayPSVR Score: 8
Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of the anime genre and the Zone of Enders (ZoE) demo was confusing, short and really really bad in my opinion. However, I strongly urge you not to look too much into these two defining characteristics that may initially sway a player on whether to purchase this game or not. I didn't enjoy either and yet I absolutely loved this game and think it is the second best PSVR port (behind RE7) we have for the system.
The first thing I want to note, which confuses me greatly, is that although I barely understand anything about ZoE's plot, I find it enchanting, intriguing and absolutely wonderful. In the beginning of the game I was so lost it was more possible for me to find a Starbucks in outer space. Literally, I had 0 clue on what was going on. Yet as the story progressed I somehow further understood what was going on while simultaneously being as lost as ever. Then at the end cut scene I reminisced how much I appreciated and gained comprehension about the plot while also realizing that at the end I was utterly clueless on what was happening. It was a weird feeling, but regardless I liked it.
That brings me to my first point. This game has a butt ton of cut scenes. These obviously aren't VR and oftentimes I felt like I was watching a TV show more than playing a video game. I can't say I enjoy this, but again, somehow I was perturbed by it. Maybe the rest of the game was so good that i was willing to put up with this or something just drew me into the drama and mystery of the plot. I don't know, but as a potential consumer, I think it's important for you to know that the game is probably 70% action and game play and 30% cut scenes.
If you played the demo or played the game before on PS2, you know how the combat works in some regard, however, I am glad to relay that when playing the full game the tutorials and controls make a lot more sense. Almost every button on the Dual Shock controller do something and the although the complicated control scheme can baffle you, it isn't a killer. Because there are so many controls you have the option to choose how you would rather fight. For instance, I chose not to grab enemies as much, didn't use the environment to block attacks or defeat the enemy. So there was a decent chunk of controls that I just never used and I still beat the game. If you like close head to head combat that is a set of controls and if you like combat from afar that is going to be a different utilized set of controls. So you can mold your battle strategy to how you like.
This is one of my favorite things about the game. The combat is absolutely awesome and there are so many different ways to win. There are a wide range of subweapons that keep combat fresh and unpredictable. In VR, this experience is amazing and honestly I would say some of the most fun combat on the PSVR. Be sure you have your VR legs though because there is a lot of crazy shifting, movements, and overwhelming motion. If you can handle it though, you are in for a treat.
I love how the plot and combat really go hand in hand as well. It's not like one is the only driving force that propels the other. Each harmoniously exists in this game, and this is a prime product of a well developed story line and game. Combat is initiated during so many different critical moments in the plot which really raises the suspense and overall excitement of the game. The boss battles are fun and I was surprised how well they spiced it up and kept the player on their toes. Just as an example, in one boss battle you fought regularly for a bit, then you became blind and had to fight while seeing nothing but darkness and had to follow your AI's instructions precisely to land hits on the enemy. Others make you use your environment to your advantage, use certain subweapons, etc.
As much as I enjoyed ZoE I have to admit it's not perfect. The cut scenes are a bit much and I could easily see how this could turn off a player. As far as I know there wasn't really a way to bypass them. Even if there were, to understand what is going on at all you have to watch them. Heck, even by watching them all I still barely had any clue what was going on. Second, the combat can get a bit button mashy. I pushed the square button I think more in this game than any other PSVR game I have ever played. At the end of a couple boss battles my thumbs were actually sore. So it may not always be the most riveting, but it's something you have to decide to endure if you think it would be worth it to you.
Another interesting point about ZoE is the replay value. So honestly, I don't think I will ever play through the main campaign again. It took me 6 hours and 4 minutes to play through and with knowing the plot, I just don't see a whole lot of reason to do so again. One thing I will admit is that there are extra missions that can be found within the game that can be accessed once finished. In the main menu you can play these extra missions along with previous boss fights and scenes. You can choose between different variations of Jehuty and is a nice little add on at the end of the game. But would I go through the game again to find the rest of the extra missions that I missed knowing that I have no idea where they may be? Probably not.
All in all, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is one of the better combat/plot focused games on the PSVR that nails immersive combat, exciting fight scenes and an invigorating plot. The anime and cut scenes may not be for everyone, but I was thoroughly surprised by the game and it has become a top 10 PSVR game for me and one I implore you to consider if you have overlooked it.