Retrospective: Zone of the Enders 2 • Page 2

Metal Gears of War.

As soon as you enter Jehuty the game ensnares you in a tortuous martial and political drama less important for its plot points than for its atmosphere of "many things all happening at once". People with names like Taper and Nohman reference organisations named BAHRAM and the Space Force, places named Aumann and Callisto, machines named Nephtis and Anubis. (Your own name is Dingo Egret, undoubtedly something culled from the MGS reject pile.)

All these entities intersect and collide seemingly at random throughout the game. Many things happen. Because of the way the script is written (in clipped and oblique sentences) and voiced (in a universally dull monotone), it is nearly impossible to follow. Sound like a Kojima you know?

But the script, all histrionics and quick turns and sudden violence, is central to how the game makes its mark. It is true that there are "too many" cut-scenes, and that they frequently interrupt the action, often wresting control from you not 10 seconds into the next set piece. The game comes perilously close to being a movie with gameplay interludes.

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This one's dreadful for the battery life.

Your moments of control liberate you from such narrative bramble. And yet they echo distinctly that melodrama. Jehuty floats weightless in 3D space, and is beset on literally all sides by attackers. You are never more than dimly aware of the locations of enemies; the screen merely indicates that there is action and that Jehuty is caught directly in the centre. Your HUD warns you of incoming fire, but it's practically impossible to focus on the indicator in the midst of combat. You flit back and forth, numbly, hoping to avoid enemy shots and stumble upon your next target.

You hold on to the game's autolock feature for dear life. It points you toward your nearest opponent, spinning Jehuty left and right and all the way around - and making you completely disorientated. You are pulled in all directions. All you can do is follow these points of interest, smile, nod and mash the attack button. In other words, you have little to no idea what is going on, but it certainly seems important enough to involve you. Star Fox this isn't.

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Dingo wearing his "harried Siberian miner" disguise.

You forget about those rampant cut-scenes once you control Jehuty, because the action is confusing and relentless. More accurately, you forget that they were so canned and interminable, but do remember the important things they showed you - that very many things are happening at once, that Jehuty is the only way these things can be resolved, and that you are physically inseparable from Jehuty.

Dingo is literally kept alive by the mecha, which stands in for his damaged heart and lungs. He effectively is the machine, and each mission is fundamentally a fight for his life. Fail and you're kicked to a black Continue screen, severed from Jehuty. You hear one of the characters wondering aloud what has happened, as if speaking to a blacked-out Dingo.

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