game ofThe week

ZONE OF THE ENDERS HD COL­LEC­TION ★★★★ 12 cert, Kon­ami, Xbox 360 (also PS3, PS Vita)

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN & GAMES -

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.

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