Everything goes boom real purty
Score:7.5 (out of 10)
ZOE's giant robot star, Jehuty, has nasty luckin The 2nd Runner, a chump once again takes it for an explosive joyride through space. In this case, the finder/keeper is Dingo Egret (who's thankfully not a whiner like the first game's pilot, Leo), and the loser/weeper is again Nohman, a deranged dictator who has seized control of Mars.
Only your mech-combat skills can keep Jehuty out of Nohman's grubby, evil hands, so prepare for some serious fighting. These battles are fast and intense, with wave after wave of evil robots attacking, dozens at a time. Dingo and The Big J have plenty of ways to serve up enemies' just dessertslasers, missiles, and a massive swordyet the controls are pick-up-and-play simple.
Action is at the core of the game, and it makes for a sweet and chewy core, indeed. Blowing stuff up with your giant robot pal never gets old, thanks to a variety of available attacks and pitch-perfect difficulty level.
A compelling story provides further reason to keep playing. The pacing is tightthere's always a boss battle or an animated cut-scene just around the corner. Make yourself take a break, though, or you might finish the game in one sittingno kidding. That's The 2nd Runner's fatal flaw: Although it has some extra missions (simple enemy kill-a-thons) and a two-player Versus mode, most gamers will be finished with ZOE2 when they finish the story. And the story is simply too short.
Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is a tasty mélange of action-packed gameplay, unique visual style, and an engrossing story. Each element complements the others. The tight, responsive control draws you in; the plot and characters provide motivation to keep playing; and beautiful, anime-inspired graphics pull these pieces into a cohesive whole. Events in the narrative frequently affect your objectives during gameplay, like when a comrade's robot is disabled and you have to carry it through hordes of bad guys to safely reach an exit. Or when a giant robot's A.I. goes AWOL, and you have to grab the machine and give it a few noogies in order to delete the bugs without destroying the robot. The plot's not perfect, though; the gist of ZOE2's tale won't surprise anyone who has seen an animated Japanese movie in the last 15 years. And the dialogue desperately needs to be rewritten by a fluent English speaker. Also, the characters' voices range from pretty good to bloody horrible. Unfortunately, Dingo "Ate My Baby" Egret is both the most egregious perpetrator of bad voice acting and the game's main character. In spite of these problems, The 2nd Runner is a fantastic game. Its nonstop action makes it consistently challenging and funbut it's over too quickly. It's like a delectable smoothie made of only the finest fruits and yogurts from the most exotic corners of the world
in an eight-hour shot glass when you're craving a 20-hour tumbler. Damn.
Score:9 (out of 10)
I'll say this without hesitation: ZOE2 is the best game I've played since Metroid Prime. The mad, visceral thrills I experienced while playing it are pretty much unrivaled, and it looks positively amazing. It's the sort of game that prompts onlookers to ask, "What the hell is happening? Are you even controlling it?" It's that fast and insane. But you know what the best thing is? You feel completely in control the whole time. Once you learn the basic commands, you can bust moves that'll make you freak outtruly stunning stuff. Some will complain about its short length, but trust me, the game is plenty challenging, and you'll feel pretty accomplished once you finish it.
Score:8.5 (out of 10)
I don't know 'bout the rest of you, but it took me a good couple hours before I could get over the name of ZOE2's main hero: Dingo. Now, I'm sure there are some happening Dingos out there, but it's not really a savior-of-the-universe name. Regardless, The 2nd Runner is an incredible experience that no PS2 owner should miss. It improves on just about everything from the first gameeven the already-stellar visuals (this time, they're just plain sick). Gameplay is instinctive, chaotic, and breathtaking. Unfortunately, the entire thing is still very linear, a bit too segmented, and repetitiveand I can't help but feel that it doesn't quite live up to its potential for perfection.