Zone of the Enders 2 HD HD HD gets a comparison trailer & launch month

Mecha-Anubis, god of the Robo-dead

The Devil May Cry HD updates may have underwhelmed, but there’s one PS2 remaster on the horizon that seems far more likely to please: Hideo Kojima’s well-regarded foray into the realm of giant mecha anime excess, Zone of the Enders 2, which still stands as one of the best takes on the genre, and after a bit of a slip it seems to have a solid release date pinned down.

This particular remaster was announced last year, aiming for a spring 2018 launch. That didn’t quite work out but, according to the comparison trailer released today, it’s still on schedule for launch this year, albeit in September now. If you’ve got a 4k monitor and want a pin-sharp look at the game now, we’ve got the goods waiting within.

Going beyond what the quick n’ dirty Devil May Cry remaster offered, this latest iteration of Zone of the Enders 2 is technically the third HD release of the game. First launched back in 2003 on the PS2, it was later brought a bit closer to PS3 spec in 2012 by High Voltage Software. While mostly decent, the port fell short of fan’s hopes, so Kojima went and spent his initial development budget for a third game in the series on hiring Japanese studio Hexadrive to re-port it in 2013. This process not only brought improvements to the engine, but saw almost all of the textures redrawn to match, as well as some improvements to the 3D models.

The end result: We got the ZoE2 HD we deserved, but at the cost of the death of the series, doubly assured now that Kojima has moved on to pastures both greener and weirder. The Cygames-developed new version, Zone of the Enders 2: M∀RS, looks to be built atop Hexadrive’s foundations, if the trailer above is any indication. Familiar pin-sharp textures, a constant framerate and now resolutions all the way up to full native 4k. It’s not entirely clear why such a long delay was required to bring it up to spec, but I’m still glad that PC folks are going to have a chance to play it. It’s a great time, albeit in a short-but-replayable sorta way.

My only worry now is whether they’ll finally offer the option to play with Japanese audio and reworked English subtitles. Much as I loved almost everything about ZoE2, the English translation had a truly bizarre cadence to it, like a voice-cast of genuine professionals were forced to read a machine-translated script without the aid of a voice director or any context cues whatsoever. Fingers crossed, eh? No store pages are up for Zone of The Enders 2: M∀RS yet, but we hope to give the port a poke or two to see if any screws fall loose closer to launch.

6 Comments

  1. DatonKallandor says:

    This is still baffling to me, because if there’s any game that didn’t need an HD remaster is ZoE 2. The art style is literally perfect – the sprite work and textures were drawn in a style that made them essentailly resolution-less. They never looked blurry, because they perfectly fit the aesthetic.

    Killing off the series in an effort to make a game that already looked flawless look better is pretty damn dumb.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      I’m pretty sure that even at that point, Konami management had resolved to axe Kojima one way or another. The fact that his entire budget was just enough to slightly improve a PS2 port would imply that there wasn’t exactly a full game’s war-chest going on there.

      The idea was that the improved port would increase awareness of the series and get some new players in on the ground floor. Just didn’t work out in the end, and he spent the last few months of MGS5’s dev cycle practically locked in a store-room, communicating with his team via smuggled messages written on post-it notes.

      Also, you’ll notice that now even without Kojima, Konami somehow ended up having the same idea that he did.

  2. juan_h says:

    Due to my sordid past as a math major, I cannot help but read “M∀RS” as “M for each RS”. I am sure that this is not what the developers intended.

    I love mecha but I don’t love melodrama, so I generally have mixed feelings about the kinds of shows that Zone of the Enders is based on. My ambivalence unfortunately extends to the game. The fact that it’s a Kojima game and thus likely to contain a million, zillion cutscenes does not help. People who have actually played the game may now feel free to correct me.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      There are quite a few cutscenes, but the game is mostly well paced. Short, even. 4-6 hours on your first time through, speedruns clock in at under an hour.

      I’ve probably completed it about six times. The game changes quite a lot on higher difficulties – enemy AI in particular gets vastly more capable.

    • abstrarie says:

      The melodrama is indeed thick with this one, but the gameplay and presentation is just stellar. No game has ever done this style of hyper fast aerial mech fighting as well as ZOE2 (the first one is forgettable). I can’t wait to give it a shot in VR! I would say if you like short, focused action games, to give it a shot. The cutscenes don’t drag on for too long.

  3. gwop_the_derailer says:

    The death of the series is especially tough to take in with the third game’s excellent design concepts floating about.