Gamers have always had this fascination with massive mechs. There’s just something about getting into an oversized robotic-like frame and being in control of it all. The carnage and devastation it can cause is an exciting prospect when it is at your fingertips. What if you could quite literally sit inside one in a VR environment? Wonder no more.
Back from the grave
Back in 2001 Hideo Kojima released a brand new IP named Zone of the Enders. Many players bought this game purely to get access to the Metal Gear Solid 2: Son’s of Liberty demo that came with the game, but surprisingly Zone of the Enders ended up being a much-beloved mech game that spawned a sequel – Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner. That PS2 game saw an HD remake for PS3 and Xbox 360 and now we have a port of that on the PS4. What makes this version unique is that it now comes with 4K as well as VR support.
Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner – Mars is set two years after the first game, both in the real world and in-game. A miner, named Dingo Egret, discovers an Orbital Frame (mech) named Jehuty when suddenly he’s attacked by Bahram forces. Wasting no time he jumps into it and makes short work of the incoming threat. From there he moves towards a battleship where he comes face-to-face with the big bad guy in the game, Col. Ridley “Nohman” Hardiman, leader of Bahram, who ultimately shoots him and leaves him for dead. In typical Hideo Kojima fashion, it’s only after this long introduction that the game really gets going.
It looks impressive in 4K, considering that it’s a 15-year-old game.
It looks impressive in 4K, considering that it’s a 15-year-old game, but I invested most of my time playing the game in VR. Nothing special is required to get this mode running, other than your VR unit and a standard Dualshock 4. As with all good VR games, it’s the fact that you’re sitting in the cockpit of the Orbital Frame that drives home the realism. Instead of viewing the action from a third-person perspective, which is how you would have played the game up to this point, you’re now right in the thick of the action. Veterans will be well aware that the action is fast-paced and that you’ll be zipping to and from foes for quick attacks. If you battle with motion sickness I would imagine that it could be quite daunting, but for those who can handle fast movement in VR games, there is something special at hand here.
A tap of the L2 button will lock on to any foe that stands in your way. Square deals damage based on the distance that you are from the enemy. If you’re within a close proximity Jehuty can perform strong physical attacks, but at a distance you can also shoot them. The Orbital Frame is exceptionally agile and can dash from side-to-side with ease to avoid enemy attacks. Combine that with your attacks and you can lock on to various enemies to perform multiple attacks at one time. As you make your way through the story you’ll be granted with new sub-weapons by defeating bosses. What originally starts off with the ability to grab an opponent, which can be used to attack others or throw them at an incoming threat, evolves into some really powerful alternate attacks.
Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner – Mars isn’t going to last you much longer than six hours.
Nothing subpar about the sub-weapons
Gauntlet will push your enemies into walls to inflict massive damage, while Decoy will create a clone of your Orbital Frame to help you get out of tricky situations. There are moments in the game that you have to pick up certain object to defend against some tougher bosses, but overall you won’t end up with attacks that are too complicated to defend against. This is good from a VR perspective as, once that VR unit is on your head, fast-paced action that requires quick attacks and reflexes leaves you with little time to focus on other things. Throughout all this, you’re always on the lookout for metatrons to refill your health bar, as well as Ex Mission items that provide you with extra missions. There is a good reason for collecting these extras other than hunting another PlayStation trophy.
Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner – Mars isn’t going to last you much longer than six hours. The story structure is very linear as you’re on a basic set path until you reach the finale. Once you have completed the game it will unlock the ability for you to challenge any of the bosses you fought as well as areas you have explored. You can also visit the hanger and look at the various in-game models in VR mode, but there really isn’t much replay value at hand other than replaying some of the things you’ve already done at a harder difficulty.
If your dream has been for years to pilot your own Orbital Frame then Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner – Mars is going to tick all the boxes for you. It’s highly enjoyable playing the game from a cockpit point of view, but it’s the exact same game you’ve played before – you’re just in a cockpit now.