Z.O.E HD Collection

4 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Graphics: 2/10

Vigorous combat mechanic that constantly engages you, great soundtrack, looks good when it actually hits 60 FPS

Bland voice acting, terrible frame rate that brings the whole experience down

Legendary videogame superstar, Hideo Kojima, has always been known as the man behind the Metal Gear series. But like most game developers they wish to start something new, and with Zone of the Enders his wish was more or less realized. You see unlike his other games; Zone of the Enders was one of the very few series that managed to escape Japan officially to be fully localized for the English speaking audience. While it didn’t manage to captivate a fanbase as big as Meta Gear, it did manage to gain a strong cult following that supports the series to no end. ZOE has returned to prove itself yet again with the Zone of the Enders HD collection bringing the first and second game in true high def format.  Sadly what could have easily been one of the best revivals and “a must own collection” has been completely ruined due to poor performance and busted graphics.



Like most futuristic mech titles, the game takes place in…the future—in space no less—with humans discovering a new energy source called Metatron leading to the creation of the human shaped robots–Orbital Frames. These frames can be run by AI machines or by pilots known as Runners. During these times civil wars started erupting between the united nations space force and a terrorist organization cell known as BAHRAM. The first entry stars Leo a boy who has been caught in the cross fire during an attack by BAHRAM on Antilia—a colonized space station next to Jupiter. While trying to escape, Leo ends up stumbling across the a massive orbital frame known as Jehuty powered by ADA (the AI battle instructor) which he then uses to fend off BAHRAM forces and find a way to escape the crumbling space station. The second entry takes place a couple of years after when BAHRAM ends up attacking (yet again) another facility known as Callisto where the new protagonist, Dingo, manages to stumble on across (yet again) the Orbital Frame Jehuty using it to put a stop to BAHRAM once and for all.  The story in ZOE isn’t really the main selling point of the franchise. The campy dialogue and poor voice don’t help create any memorable set pieces or characters. Granted there are some high moments, especially between ADA and Leo, but it ultimately doesn’t reach the standard of storytelling found in other Kojima games. The series strength lies in its gameplay.


In my opinion, ZOE has definitely made a mark in the industry thanks to its fast paced robot action and intuitive controls. At the time, the Mech genre was mostly filled with slow paced shooters with tank like movement. ZOE instead gave players a more free roaming action adventure game with aerial combat at its core. The game also ran at a smooth frame rate which really demonstrated the power of the PS2. Its controls while at first may seem cumbersome will eventually grow natural to you. Whenever dealing with enemies the game will always put you on the mercy of the game’s lock on mechanic which can be a good or bad thing. This is actually what makes the game fun turning aerial battle into a one-on-one fighting game. But things can really downhill when dealing with multiple enemies as you will constantly need to tap the shoulder button to switch between them. This can really make a difference between winning or losing especially on higher difficulty settings. While I do admire the ability to explore other areas it can also make you feel lost and sometimes force you to resort to guessing.  While many gamers remember ZOE “as the game that included the MGS 2 demo” others would mostly remember it as “that robot game that was fun but really short”. I certainly don’t blame on that last statement. The game clocks in about 4 with an abrupt ending as though to tell us “yea, there’s going to be a sequel”. The game can also feel very repetitive with missions that mostly involve fighting robots, protect survivors, and finding the next upgrade. Overall it was only an appetizer leading up for the real meal.

Zone of the Enders The Second runner is a much better standalone title that improves upon its original in almost every way. ZOE 2 also has a ton of variety. The combat for instance feels much faster and more fun thanks to a useful arsenal of weaponry and more engaging enemies.  The exploration/backtracking been ditched for the better with the game having a more organized mission structure that give you more challenges. Speaking of challenges, this game is much tougher than its predecessor with boss fights that will make your fingers twitch in your sleep. It isn’t Ninja Gaiden hard but be warned. You also have to save manually for both games so don’t forget that.


The surround sound was also really well done with the sounds of Orbital Frames swishing left and right. In terms of soundtrack both games have a nice mix of techno and trance with high speed tempo that really make fights feel more engaging. The gold trophy will however have to go to the Second Runner for achieving a fine mix between cinematic, ambience, and trance creating for some really memorable set pieces.

Terrible Performance

Now the biggest issue I have with this package is its performance. Let me be as clear as possible in saying this. Zone of the Enders HD collection’s frame rate issues are abysmal and unacceptable, even after the 1.01 patch. I wouldn’t go as far as saying unplayable but it’s definitely not fun. For a game that is marketed as “HIGH SPEED ROBOT ACTION” it fails and only ends up giving us BARELY PLAYABLE ROBOT ACTION. The first one may not show this issue but it’s clear as day when playing the Second Runner (which happens to be the best one out of the two). The original titles ran at a dashing 60 FPS and would occasionally dip now and then.  With the HD collection you would get a 25-30 FPS (sometimes even less), rarely reaching 60 FPS making your PS3 feel more like a PS 1.5. It managed to take one of best boss fights in all my gaming experience and turn into sluggish slow battle that made me cringe with every passing second. Aside from frame rate problems, a freezing issue occurred as well as a weird graphical glitch in one of the cutscenes. I also got a black out (black screen) which made me skip a heartbeat as it happened during an intense boss battle. While the Xbox 360 version has been known to have better performance it still ends up suffering from frame rate issues.

Thanks to YouTube user ps360frame for showing us a detailed analysis. I can also confirm the PS3 version frame rate gets much worse in later segments of the game 

So what gives? Sure I was a bit skeptical especially knowing how badly Konami handled the Silent Hill HD collection, But this was ZOE. This game was developed by Kojima’s team. We all saw how Metal Gear HD took advantage of PS3’s hardware turning a 30 FPS game into 60. Why couldn’t the same have occurred with ZOE HD? Maybe it was High Voltage who poorly handled it or Konami’s lack of quality assurance, I wouldn’t know. What does bother me the most however is the missed opportunity.  The quick solid gameplay is something you don’t see in games of today and its definitely a series that deserves recognition. But due to the poor state of this port I wouldn’t see it being recommended or talked about among gamers. Of course there is always a hope for a patch but I am doubtful as the extent of the damage is too great and will require a lot more manpower and money to fix.

Those black squares are meant to be facial animations.

To its credit the HD collection does amp up the textures and visuals to make things look really crisp. In particular, ZOE 2 really stands its nearly cell shaded graphics. At those rare moments when the game does hit 60 FPS the game would match up with a current gen title. The collection also comes with a very fancy HD anime intro that mixes both stories together while the old cutscenes are just upscaled. . While these games may not have any online leader boards they do have extra modes such versus which sadly isn’t worth playing thanks to its performance.

When things aren’t moving, ZOE HD actually looks pretty good.

Of course there always be those who will want to buy the collection to try out the Metal Gear Rising demo which is honestly not worth the asking price. It’s fun but incredibly short. It also has to make sure that ZOE HD is in the disc drive making the whole demo installation process seem inconvenient and annoying. A demo should eventually arrive online so it’s best to be patient for that.

Do you yourself a favor and pretend this collection doesn’t exist. It will save you some heart aches and money. If you’re new to the series and want to check them out then track them down the originals and play them on a PS2 (or your fat PS3 if you’re lucky). You certainly won’t regret that decision.

Who should get this?

  • Hack ‘n’ slash fanatics who don’t care about inconsistent frame drops.
  • Die hard ZOE fans who want to see Jehuty in HD and don’t mind these frequent issues. 


Author: The Arab Gamer View all posts by
Gaming from the Arab world, ya aziz!

7 Comments on "Z.O.E HD Collection"

  1. Rami Al Ahmad November 22, 2012 at 1:15 AM - Reply

    oh sorry , i thought u were a real gamer , seems i was wrong , ur pathetic , always knew u were a noob nintendo fanboy , but this is fucking ridiculous , you sir are a disgrace to gaming and i am going to delete u from my facebook because ur a worthless bag of shit , sorry for being harsh but even IGN gave this a 7 and they are assholes , u sir are a hater and only play WII games , please consider working for IGN since that is where u belong , thank u!

    • DoCWaSaBe November 22, 2012 at 1:50 AM - Reply

      Rami Al Ahmad, you have been warned before about abusing other members and therefore you have been banned for repeated offence. In response to your comment, a review is an opinion and not a judgement to the level of fun you should harness from the game. Insulting a reviewer or a GO community member for his opinion is not the right way of expressing yours, I urge you to learn some basic manners when speaking to others in the future if you would like to get any point across.

    • The Arab Gamer November 22, 2012 at 9:39 AM - Reply

      Hi Rami, first of all understand that I am a big fan of the ZOE of the Enders series. I actually bought this HD collection at full price and did not receive a review copy. If you read my review you would notice that I mentioned this sentence “The quick solid gameplay is something you don’t see in games of today and its definitely a series that deserves recognition” and because of that I expected this to be a solid port/revival to a series that definitely needed more attention. Regardless of how big of a fan I am in the end I had to deal with the reality of the situation.

      In short this port was poorly executed and didn’t reach any standard I would consider good. It managed to take a game series that was fun and turn it the other way around. If you really disagree with my opinion then you are more welcome to purchase the product and see the issues yourself. If you already own it then I’m sure you will know what I’m talking about.

      Regarding the Nintendo fan boy comment, I will have disagree with that. True I love Nintendo but that doesn’t mean I don’t like other stuff. I own all major game consoles for a reason. Different platforms give off different experiences and that’s honestly one of the main reasons why I love the gaming so much.

      Hope that makes sense.

  2. Dory Khawand November 22, 2012 at 1:39 AM - Reply

    I masturbate furiously to this

    • Figment November 22, 2012 at 2:12 AM - Reply

      as far as comments go I personally find this one oddly amusing :3

    • DoCWaSaBe November 22, 2012 at 2:13 AM - Reply

      masterbaters gona masterbate

    • Figment November 22, 2012 at 2:17 AM - Reply

      is that a pun or a typo? :p