game ofThe week
ZONE OF THE ENDERS HD COLLECTION ★★★★ 12 cert, Konami, Xbox 360 (also PS3, PS Vita)
Gather round, Sonny Jim, and let me tell you what it was like in the olden days. Games didn’t always hold your hand, slowly reveal their weirdness or spoon-feed you the story. Some classics, such as the
Zone of the Enders franchise, were rewarding, melodramatic and challenging all at once; storms of big emotions, epic storytelling and – best of all – giant robots.
Set in the backdrop of a futuristic war, Zone of the
Enders was created by Hideo Kojima, one of the true auteurs of the industry. It follows an awkward young boy who stumbles into the cockpit of a giant robot while his hometown is being attacked. Soon enough he’s a reluctant hero, piloting the robot through this harrowing conflict.
The Zone of the Enders games use this huge canvas to explore some heady themes, most of which relate to what’s acceptable and what isn’t in the context of war. The premise lends itself to exciting, frantic gameplay. Mostly it involves giant robot combat. Piloting these machines is essentially a mix of beat-’em- up and third-person shooter, as you hover, soar and swoop, then zap, block and swipe at multiple enemies.
Graphically, you can tell the games are from a previous generation, but they’ve aged well, mixing the colourful combat with interesting robot design and lengthy, histrionic Anime scenes. ZOE: The Second Runner is especially eye-catching.
Some gamers won’t appreciate the long, overwrought cut-scenes; others might find the combat too frenzied. But for the most part, these two classic games are a poignant, exciting saga that represents a turning point in videogame storytelling.
The robot breasts and phalluses, however, remind you that the industry still has
some growing up to do.