Alan Smithee

Who Traded This In? — Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner

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For the longest time, I’ve had no issue paying full price for most games that come out…until this generation. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought many a $60 game for both my Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, I just now feel like I shouldn’t have to. I always assigned a certain stigma to buying used games or even ‘greatest hits’ versions, and I don’t know where it came from. This all changed the day that I started rummaging through the bargain bin at my local GameStop (sorry, I know there are some of you who are totally against GameStop, but they’re all I have locally).

My first rummage through the bargain bin netted me a few games that I had been meaning to either play or own for about $5 each. I couldn’t believe that I could pick up games that were good for a tenth of the normal price. I guess it was the fact that I could pick up 12 used games for the price of 1 new game that sold me on the idea…and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I went on the hunt for Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner one day after I found out that I might have missed out on one of the best giant mech games ever made. I bought the original Zone of the Enders only because it came with the demo for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and wasn’t too impressed with the game that was sold along with my demo…

It was during a major Hideo Kojima kick that I decided that I wanted to try to get the most recent games that Kojima-san had a hand in creating that wasn’t MGS related. It took me going to all the GameStop stores in my immediate area (about 4 within 8 miles of each other…obscene isn’t it?) only to find out that the closest store to me was about 35 miles away. The distance didn’t matter, I would drive over an hour each way if it meant that I could get the game I wanted. What can I say?!? I’m a man, I hunt, it’s what we do!

I guess I must have been more charming to the female clerk in the store than I thought…nah it was probably that I was the first guy to come into the store all day who was talking to her face and not her tits. There’s that, or maybe it was my use of personal hygiene products that far too many of our gaming brethren seem to ignore in the pursuit of gaming perfection, hell it could have been me actually having a conversation with her that didn’t involve me coming across as the atypical gamer douchebag.

Whatever it was that I did or didn’t do, she offered to go (on her day off) up to the other store to pick the game up for me (I’m sure she had other stuff to deliver or pick up) and drop it off at the store where she normally worked. I was thrilled to go back to the store the following day to get my hands on my copy of this highly coveted game. Twenty-four dollars later, I was rushing to get back home to plop this game into my PS3 (yes I know that its a PS2 game, so shut up).

I was floored by how good this game was and how much better than the original ZoE that this game was. About 3 hours after starting the game up, I found myself still playing, amazed that I missed this gem on the PS2.

The story picks up right after the story ends in Zone of the Enders, except this time around the cutscenes are done in a mixture of real-time game graphics for the orbital frames (what you’d call mecha) and 2-D anime. This mixture leads you to feel more in touch with the characters than you did in the first game because you no longer are looking at dead, lifeless 3-D models of characters that look a bit too much like they were made by Akira Toriyama.

The gameplay is the same essentially as it was in ZoE, except this time around Jehuty (the protagonist’s orbital frame) is a shitload more powerful. You have the standard wave after wave of enemy fighters that you have to destroy in order to progress the story. The experience was familiar but with enough dynamics changed to make it an altogether new feel.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the game is that the pussified Leo Stenbuck (the protagonist from Zone of the Enders) makes a comeback as a badass character who pilots a ship that is synonymous with Konami: The Vic Viper. That’s right, the same ship that appears in every single version of Gradius shows up as a transformable mecha that kicks so much ass.

If you’re lucky enough to find a copy of this game in a game store near you it is most definately worth what ever it costs to bring it home with you. I’m just lucky that I got a complete copy and a chance to own it myself, this one is kinda rare to find. Now if I could only get past this one fight that I’ve been stuck in for week…or two, or three…maybe a few months now. Eh, whatever, go out and get this game.

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