Zone of the Enders (video game)

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Zone of the Enders
Zone of the Enders Cover.jpg
Developer(s)Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Publisher(s)Konami
Director(s)Noriaki Okamura
Producer(s)Hideo Kojima
Artist(s)Yoji Shinkawa
Nobuyoshi Nishimura
Writer(s)Noriaki Okamura
Shuyo Murata
Composer(s)Maki Kirioka
Akihiro Honda
Norihiko Hibino
Toshiyuki Kakuta
Shuichi Kobori
SeriesZone of the Enders
Platform(s)PlayStation 2
PlayStation 3 (HD)
Xbox 360 (HD)
Release
Genre(s)Third-person shooter
Hack and slash
Mode(s)Single-player
Multiplayer

Zone of the Enders (ZONE OF THE ENDERS Z.O.E ゾーン オブ エンダーズ, Zōn obu Endāzu), officially abbreviated as Z.O.E, is a third-person shooter hack and slash video game that was developed and published by Konami for the PlayStation 2. It was released on March 1, 2001 in Japan and later in the same month for both North America and Europe. The game is based around mecha combat with the player controlling the "Orbital Frame" Jehuty. Across the game, the player has to protect towns from enemies and obtains new weapons.

The plot is set in the space around Jupiter and follows a young colonist named Leo Stenbuck, one of the few survivors from his colony after it was attacked by the military force BAHRAM. Surviving using a mecha known as Jehuty, Leo is on a mission to return Jehuty to the Space Force and uses the Frame to protect civilians. The game was created with the intention of having a more serious and realistic focus on the mecha genre. The mechas were designed by Yoji Shinkawa, the character and mechanical designer for the Metal Gear series.

Critical reaction to Zone of the Enders has been positive. While the combat and the graphics have been generally well received, its short length and poor localization have been the most common areas of criticism. The game spawned two follow-ups: a spin-off for the Game Boy Advance and a direct sequel for the PlayStation 2. The Japanese animation studio Sunrise also produced two works related to Zone of the Enders. The game was re-released alongside its direct sequel Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in October 2012 as part of the Zone of the Enders HD Collection.

Gameplay[edit]

Jehuty defeats an enemy Raptor with its blade. The green bar shows Jehuty's health while the top shows the remaining enemies.

Zone of the Enders is a hack and slash and third-person shooter game in which the player takes follows Leo Steanbuck, a child who becomes the pilot of the advanced mecha, or Frame, known as Jehuty. Jehuty is capable of three-dimensional movement, flying, and hovering. Leo uses Jehuty to travers across different areas of a space colony orbiting Jupiter while attacking rogue Orbital Frames using its advanced weaponry. In some stages of the story, there is also the objective of minimizing damage to nearby buildings and civilians, encouraging more strategic combat. Players are given ranked depending on how many buildings and civilians were destroyed or spared. This grading affects the ending sequence outcome. Additionally, the player is given options to first take different areas where to fight in order to avoid linearity. In order to restore Jehuty's health, an item known as Metatron Ore can be found and used in every area.[3]

In battle, Jehuty locks-on to a single enemy Frame and is able to perform advanced maneuvers such as grabbing and throwing enemies, deploying an energy shield, and using booster jets to move quickly and dodge enemy attacks. It is equipped with an energy sword, an energy projectile, and various sub-weapons. As the player progresses, Jehuty's arsenal grows and its abilities expand by obtaining programs alongside their respective code.[4] Every time Jehuty defeats an enemy it gains experience; after gaining a determined amount of experience, it levels up, improving most of its qualities.[5]

Upon completion of the game, a Versus Mode is unlocked. The player can use it to compete with the artificial intelligence (AI) bots or another player while controlling two Frames.[3]

Plot[edit]

The game takes place in the year 2172; mankind has colonized Earth's, Mars', and Jupiter's moons. A military force known as BAHRAM sends its primary offensive unit to attack Antilia, a Jupiter colony, in an attempt to secure two advanced machines known as Orbital Frames.[6] One of the few colony survivors, a young boy named Leo Stenbuck, witnesses a falling Laborious Extra-Orbital Vehicle (LEV) killing his friends. He flees to a hangar, where he finds an Orbital Frame by the name of Jehuty. Using this suit and its built-in intelligence, A.D.A, he fends off the BAHRAM forces led by officer Viola who seek to claim Jehuty on the orders of their leader, Nohman.[7] Leo is then contacted by Elena Weinberg, the commander of the civilian transport vessel Atlantis; it belongs to Earth's military forces, the United Nations Space Force. As Jehuty's original pilot died during the attack, Elena requests Leo's assistance to deliver Jehuty back to them so they can take it to Mars. Leo, however, refuses to kill enemies.[8]

Battling through Antilia, Leo rescues civilians, including Celvice Klein, a friend; he defends the colony from destruction, defeating the BAHRAM forces and their commanders one by one.[9] Before reaching Atlantis, Leo encounters Viola, who seeks a rematch; Leo defeats her, but is unwilling to kill her.[10] Later, Atlantis pilot Rock Thunderheart meets Leo in person, revealing that BAHRAM forces are still determined to obtain Jehuty and are threatening to destroy the colony. Thunderheart requests Leo's help to pilot Jehuty, as he has realized Leo's skills are superior.[11] Viola then appears, shooting Celvice this time, forcing Leo to fight again.[12] Celvice is taken to the Thunderheart to be treated while Leo goes to save the colony.[13]

Leo goes to the docks and Viola battles him once more. However, Viola is defeated again and killed when a leftover bomb blows her out of the colony and into Jupiter's atmosphere.[14] Nohman himself then appears in Jehuty's superior twin Frame Anubis, forcing Jehuty's escape.[15] As Jehuty is docking, A.D.A. reveals to Leo its programming: when taken to the fortress Aumaan on Mars, the mechas is to eject its pilot and self-destruct Jehuty, destroying the frame and the fortress.[16] Leo leaves Jehuty's cockpit and meets up with the crew of the Atlantis and Celvice, who survived her gunshot wound.

Development[edit]

Zone of the Enders entered development for the PlayStation and PC, but in actuality Konami had no intentions of releasing them for those platforms.[17] The game's focus is on anime-style robots with an emphasis on realism compared to common sci-fi works. Development staff were advised by professionals who had done scientific research for other anime series. Director and scenario writer Noriaki Okamura wanted to write a serious story featuring people with complicated lives; its main theme examines the purpose and nature of life, as reflected in Leo's hardships during the game. To support this message, multiple endings for the main narrative were avoided, although side quests could feature different endings. Despite this, two other endings can be unlocked depending on the player's performance when protecting civilians. In contrast to other 3D games, the team worked to give players the sensation that they are controlling a fast robot; this demanded a year of camera work to achieve.[17]

Okamura designed Zone of the Enders to tell a story through gameplay sequences, rather than during cutscenes. As such, the staff focused on adding details such as the destroyed buildings to inform the player's objectives.[18] Character designer Nobuyoshi Nishimura expressed difficulties in designing characters who would both fit the mechas and the 3D models. In order to take advantage of the 3D space, Nishimura sought to move the camera as often as possible. He tried not to "go overboard" during cutscenes to emphasize the appeal of the mechas during gameplay.[19] During development of the game, producer Hideo Kojima assisted the team.[17]

Yoji Shinkawa was in charge of designing the Orbital Frames, the games mechas. Initially, the Frames were to feature unique transformations, but he determined that flying and skating with Jehuty was enjoyable on its own.[20] As a joke, Shinkawa placed the cockpit in the Frames' crotch region.[21] The staff first had the idea of naming a Frame Anubis based on Egyptian mythology; this led to the name Jehuty for the main Frame, a reference to the Egyptian deity, Djehuti.[22] LEVs were intended to appear during the gameplay as weak, easy opponents that would target Jehuty and the Raptors; however, they ultimately appeared only during cutscenes.[23]

Zone of the Enders was originally set to release in Japan on February 1, 2001, but was delayed to March 1, 2001.[24][25] The Japanese edition premium package contains an original video animation titled ZOE: 2167 IDOLO; produced by Sunrise, it is set five years before the events on the game. Okamura was satisfied with Sunrise's work, noting their experience in producing robot anime.[18] During the animation's production, Shinkawa suggested a design for the titular Frame, IDOLO, to ensure style continuity between the animation and the video game.[20] The English versions of Zone of the Enders were released on March 23, 2001 in Europe and March 27, 2001 in North America. They were originally sold packaged with a preview demo of the then-upcoming Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.[26]

The game's soundtrack was released in Japan on April 25, 2001 by Konami Music Entertainment.[27] According to director Okamura, the music is calm during normal situations, with new tracks added in combat situations to increase the complexity of the music while fighting.[17] The main theme, "Kiss Me Sunlights", was composed and performed by Heart of Air.

Reception and legacy[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic78/100[28]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Game Informer9.25/10[33]
GamePro4/5[32]
Game RevolutionB-[29]
GameSpot7.4/10[3]
GameZone6/10[31]
IGN7.5/10[30]
Gaming AgeB-[34]

Zone of the Enders received generally positive responses, with an average score of a 78 out of 100 in Metacritic.[28] The game's fighting system was praised for its use of 3D camerawork and Jehuty's fast movements.[3][29] GamePro found it superior to the PlayStation 2's other mecha game released by the release, Armored Core 2 thanks to its responsive controls and quick combat.[32] The visual design has also been praised as highly detailed.[30][31] The game was critically acclaimed by Game Informer who remarked Zone of the Enders as one of the most appealing games and found its visuals as ones of the best ones ever found in the PlayStation 2 and added praise to its fighting.[33] However, the presentation has been a major area of criticism; the game's localization was criticized, with the English script being regarded as repetitive and the voice acting "emotionless" by David Smith, writing for IGN. He also reported being annoyed by Leo's English voice acting.[3] The story has been disliked by reviewers with Smith finding the main characters inferior to the ones from other mecha series such as Mobile Suit Gundam whereas Snackdawg from GameZone disliked the story as he stated that despite its dark parts such as the deaths of Leo's friends, his father and his friend being shot, it instead made everyone "simply seems whiny".[30][31] While liking the game, Game Informer recommended players to skip the cutscenes.[33] Despite these complaints, Smith considered it one of the best mecha games he had ever played.[30]

The combat was also considered too easy due to poor enemy AI, lack of variety, and an excessive number of tactical options,[29] and the game has been found to be too short without an increase in challenge on higher difficulty settings.[29] Gaming Age writer Patrick Klepek criticized the game's open ending, suggesting that the project had been rushed and that it would have been better to increase the game's length and fill in missing plot elements.[34] Shawn Sanders felt the game verged on being "a better rental than purchase," but that the included Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty demo made the game worth buying.[35] The versus mode was better received, with Shane Satterfield from GameSpot praising its competitiveness and its accentuation of the singleplayer campaign's strengths with Gaming Age giving similar responses.[3][34] On the other hand, GameZone criticized this mode stating it was not worth the wait to unlock it.[31]

During 2001, it was the 81st bestselling game in Japan, with a total of 120,658 units sold.[36] It was the sixth best selling game in North America during March 2001;[37] sales were boosted by the inclusion of a demo for the highly-anticipated Metal Gear Solid 2.[38]

In June 2001, Konami announced a spin-off game titled Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars for the Game Boy Advance to be developed by Sunrise Interactive.[39] Sunrise also produced an animated television series titled Z.O.E. Dolores,i in 2001.[40] Although there were no plans for a sequel to the original game,[17] in May 2002, Konami announced Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner; it was released for the PlayStation 2 in February 2003.[41] To bridge the two games, Konami published an intersequel following Leo's activities with Atlantis and witnessing his growth as a pilot.[42] Zone of the Enders was ported to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 alongside The 2nd Runner.[43] A sequel to The 2nd Runner was announced in May 2012 as "The Enders Project," but was cancelled a year later due to difficulty with the HD ports.[44]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vaugh.H (May 25, 2012). "Zone of the Enders HD Dated". TheGamersHub.net. Archived from the original on June 5, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  2. ^ "Zone of the Enders HD Collection gets UK release date!". Konami. October 31, 2012. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Satterfield, Shane (March 28, 2001). "Zone of the Enders". GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 6, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
  4. ^ Satterfield, Shatter (March 28, 2001). "Zone of the Enders Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 6, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2012.
  5. ^ "Game Screen". Zone of the Enders (instruction manual). Konami of Europe. March 23, 2001. p. 5. SLES-50111.
  6. ^ Konami. Zone of the Enders. Nohman: Calling all Orbital Frames. Our mission this time is to secure these two Frames or to destroy them. To complete this mission, you are expected to make whatever sacrifices are necessary. / Viola: Even if it costs us the colony.
  7. ^ Konami. Zone of the Enders. Nohman: I repeat. Evacuate now! You have other things to do, don't you? / Viola: You embarrassed me this time so look forward to the next time. See you again, boy!
  8. ^ Konami. Zone of the Enders. Elena: Listen. I must ask you to do something for us. Can you deliver that Frame to our base? / ... / Leo: All right. I'll do it just this one time. But that's all I'll do. /.../ Leo:But I want you to remember one thing. I will never help you kill anybody.
  9. ^ Konami. Zone of the Enders. Celvice: Listen Leo... Can't you help those people? / Leo: How? / Celvice: Just like you helped me.
  10. ^ Konami. Zone of the Enders. Viola: Kill me now. / Leo: Don't say that. I won't.
  11. ^ Konami. Zone of the Enders. Rock: So I'd like you to work for us one more time. / Leo: What? / Rock: You go and find the bombs. / Leo: Me? / Rock: I watched you fight against the red one. I have to admit you're better than I am.
  12. ^ Konami. Zone of the Enders. Viola: Time to settle our fight. Come to the Space Port. I'll be waiting.
  13. ^ Konami. Zone of the Enders. Leo: Could you please take care of Celvice for me. / Rock: I will. You take care of what you have to.
  14. ^ Konami. Zone of the Enders. Leo: ADA. Could we go and save the Frame? / ADA: Jehuty is not designed to resist entry into Jupiter's magnetic storm. The Orbital Frame is already being pulled ever faster by gravity. While it is not impossible to save the Orbital Frame, it is very risky. / Leo: Any ideas? / Viola: Stop it.
  15. ^ Konami. Zone of the Enders. Elena: I'll blast a hole in the side walls of the central hub in 15 seconds. Follow the beacon's signal. I'll give you cover with my cannons. Be careful, if you deviate even slightly from the beacon, you'll get burned. / Leo: I'll try.
  16. ^ Konami. Zone of the Enders. ADA: Jehuty's duty on Mars is to penetrate the military fortress, Aumaan and to destroy the fortress from the inside by self-destructing Jehuty. / Leo: Jehuty will self-destruct? /.../ Leo: What about you? / ADA: All my function aboard Jehuty will cease.
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  19. ^ "Z.O.E staff interview: Part 2 Nobuyoshi Nishimura character designer / art director". Konami. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Z.O.E staff interview: Part 3 - Yoji Shinkawa Mechanical designer". Konami. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  21. ^ "Interview Segment 1 Overall ZOE Mechanical Design". Konami. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  22. ^ "Interview Segment 2 Orbital Frame "Jehuty"". Konami. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  23. ^ "Interview Segment 6 About LEVs". Konami. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  24. ^ Ike Sato, Yukiyoshi (November 2, 2000). "Z.O.E. Delayed". GameSpot. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  25. ^ Ike Sato, Yukiyoshi (November 13, 2000). "Z.O.E. Delayed Again". GameSpot. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  26. ^ "MGS2 Demo Packaged Inside Z.O.E". IGN. February 2, 2001. Archived from the original on September 30, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  27. ^ "Z.O.E. soundtrack announced in Japan". GameSpot. April 12, 2001. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  28. ^ a b "Zone of the Enders". Metacritic. Archived from the original on March 19, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
  29. ^ a b c d Senders, Shawn (January 1, 2001). "Zone of the Enders review". GameRevolution. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 3, 2013.
  30. ^ a b c d Smith, David (March 26, 2001). "Zone of the Enders". IGN. Archived from the original on May 30, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
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  32. ^ a b Mike, Major (March 27, 2001). "Zone of the Enders". GamePro. Archived from the original on March 17, 2006. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  33. ^ a b c "Zone of the Enders". Game Informer. Archived from the original on November 18, 2005. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  34. ^ a b c Klepek, Patrick (August 4, 2001). "Zone of the Enders review". Gaming Age. Archived from the original on April 18, 2001. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  35. ^ "I've heard of mechs and mobile suits, but what the heck is an Orbital Frame? Review - GameRevolution". GameRevolution. Retrieved 2017-06-14.
  36. ^ "2001年テレビゲームソフト売り上げTOP300" (in Japanese). Gemini. Archived from the original on June 27, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  37. ^ "Top-selling video games". USA Today. Gannett Company: 10E. April 27, 2001.
  38. ^ Pavlacka, Adam (November 25, 2001). "Video Games - 'Metal Gear Solid 2' is a must-have". Courier News. Sun-Times Media Group: D3.
  39. ^ "Portable Orbitals in the Zone of the Enders". IGN. June 28, 2001. Archived from the original on September 30, 2013. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  40. ^ Ike Sato, Yukiyoshi (February 20, 2001). "Second ZOE anime announced". GameSpot. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  41. ^ "New Metal Gear, Z.O.E Announced". IGN. March 9, 2002. Archived from the original on September 30, 2013. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  42. ^ "Story Between". Konami. Archived from the original on January 2, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  43. ^ Magrino, Tom (June 2, 2011). "Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders HD remakes coming to PS3, 360". GameSpot. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  44. ^ Gaston, Martin (May 3, 2013). "Kojima axes Zone of the Enders sequel". GameSpot. Archived from the original on October 1, 2013. Retrieved September 26, 2013.

External links[edit]