Zone of the Enders The 2nd Runner: A Story Told Too Quickly

The second game I’ve beaten this year has been another remastered title from the sixth generation of home consoles, and another mech game. Zone of the Enders the 2nd Runner is an overly ambitious game for its story telling and gameplay but rush too quickly both narratively and mechanically to appreciate the game.

Say what you will about Hideo Kojima telling stories through the medium of video games, despite all the flaws that came with trying to tell a story when this game was released on the Playstation 2, he is at least ambitious. You’ll play as Dingo, a miner who discovers the orbital frame Jehuty abandoned on Jupiter and uses Jehuty to protect his friends who are being attacked by BAHRAM a martian independence military movement.

The story of Zone of the Enders the 2nd Runner however is a rushed story. Constant jumps and plot twists show how amateur Kojima was as a producer trying to tell a story that was bigger than him. Zone of th Enders the 2nd Runner also doesn’t take the time for characters to build relationships. Interactions between characters result in jarring conversations as the game stumbles trying to develop connections which stands out even more as the game is fully voice acted with some decent performances and others that are flat.

The gameplay of Zone of the Enders has always been unique. Thankfully the game provides a training mode and in game tutorial that will help learn the mechanics and the unusual controller layout. Unfortunately, like the story the gameplay is also rushed constantly introducing new subweapons that are rarely or never used due to the length of the stages being so short. The combat against enemy mechs is enjoyable as you learn to fight enemies in both melee and range but fights are often over as soon as they begin. I should also make note that the game’s targetting system works on a small scale but later stages involve so many enemies that it becomes insufficient for the larger scale stages.

The bosses also involve novelty mechanics as well. Some boss fights go so far that combat don’t involve an actual mastery of the combat mechanics but are more focused on stripping down the gameplay to coincide with the story. While this does make some boss fights interesting, the climax of the game takes the concept so far that makes the battle tedious and drawn out.

Despite all these gripes, I appreciated the amateur story telling and unique gameplay. It reminds me that I’d rather have developers shoot for the stars when telling a story and designing a game that is flawed but ambitious. Zone of the Enders the 2nd Runner is a game of its time for better and for worse. It’s a short experience that I’d recommend to those who would be interested in Hideo Kojima’s works outside the Metal Gear series and for those who enjoy sci-fi mech games.

If you would like to see my first playthrough of Zone of the Enders the 2nd Runner you can find it on Twitch.