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     " A team of chimps working at a typewriter may very well have written the script. "

      Title: Zone of the Enders by Konami

      Format: Action/shooter for PS2

      Reviewing Monkey: Simi N.

      The Hype: Combat system allows close-quarter weapon attacks and long-range laser attacks against multiple enemies. Richly crafted, immersive story unfolds through stunning 3D anime-style cut scenes. Versus Mode enable heated 2-player combat.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: OkÖto be honest I eagerly acquired this game long before I had ever played it- largely because I saw that it had great graphics (something I have never done before). And, to say the least, I was not disappointed. This gameís graphics positively made my jaw drop. The amount of detail, the fine lines, the enormity and complexity of the environments, and the blazing speed at which everything moves is simply amazing. Definitely one of one of the best looking games yet seen on the PS2 console. The lighting effects are good, the explosions, weapons fire and effects are brilliant and smooth. Everything is given loads of detail from the towering mechs right down to the streetlights; everything is beautiful. And the fact that the game moves as fast as it does without a trace of slow-down just makes it even more astounding. 5 out of 5

      Sound: This game suffers from what most games suffer from these days: poor voice acting. It has become something everyone expects when they buy a game, and as such has become a running joke among gamers. Its like getting kicks from watching an incredibly horrible movie, like say Armageddon, and like those movies half the problem lies in the script. But aside from the acting this game has good music, which adds to the tension and excitement of the game. The sound effects are crystal clear and undeniably well suited to the game. The only real improvement that could be made here would be to have it presented in Dolby digital 5.1 or at least Dolby surround. 3.5 out of 5

      Game Play: This game plays in a very different way from every other mech combat game you have seen. Rather than an in-depth simulation (like Mechwarrior) or a heavily detailed shooter (like Armored Core) this game plays more like and action RPG. You face enemies one group at a time, you gain experience and new weapons or abilities from different battles that help you level up and kick ass more efficiently. And the fighting is like a well-filmed action movie. The battles are fierce and super fast. Anyone who watches you fight will be amazed at how you are able to deal with all the action going on at once. The camera consistently shows all of the action and you will never get lost amidst the chaos. The exploration parts of the game are somewhat fun, but are really just ways to let you rest between battles. There is a great deal of interaction with the environment. This becomes especially important in battle, as you have to try to minimize the damage to the surroundings in order to do well in the game. The only real problems are: One, the game isnít long enough. And two, I kept wishing there were more types of enemies to face. As it was, the battles got a little tedious. 3.5 out of 5

      Level and Environment Designs: Almost every building in this game can be destroyed, and will be if youíre not careful (or if you have a nasty streak like myself and find yourself laughing evilly as you destroy the survivors buildings). You will find yourself fighting a large variety of settings, from suburban neighborhoods, to grassy hillsides, to the city streets and industrial complexes and more. Each environment provides its own unique advantages and disadvantages, and you will never grow bored of the new places you get to visit. Not only do the levels look cool, but also the different missions you must accomplish in keep your interest and attention. No longer can you just enter and area and blow up everything to achieve your goal, you now must plan a strategic pathway around the buildings and through enemy lines to minimize the damage to yourself, and the community. The levels provide great areas in which to go buck wild and thoughtlessly destroy all who oppose me, and at the same time make me hold back and employ my underutilized (and possibly underdeveloped) brain to plan out my attack. It would be nice, however it there was more to explore and interact with. 4.5 out of 5

      Multiplayer: This game follows Star Wars: Starfighter in what I hope will be a very short-lived trend. You have to beat the game in order to unlock the two-player mode. What the hell is that? Every game that supports two players should do so right when you take it out of the package. Making you unlock it will only make your friends less likely to want to play against you as you will have much more experience than they will. But even given this unfortunate situation the two-player mode in this game kicks ass! Not only is it fun as hell, but it was also created in the most brilliant way imaginable. Instead of having split screen combat this game puts both mechs on the same screen so both players can see everything clearly in all its detail. One mech. is facing away and the other is off in the distance facing the screen. While you battle the aspect can shift back and forth depending on whose mech. is closest to the camera. At first this sounds impossibly difficult and nutty, but all of my friends and myself have found that it takes less then one whole fight to get used to it. Unfortunately there is only a small assortment of mechs to choose from, all those that were present in the game (not counting most bosses). Some are severely outclassed by the others, but to combat this you can adjust the handicap of each. This game will provide many more hours of enjoyment in vs. mode than it will in story mode. 3.5 out of 5

      Replayability: Everybody has to beat this game at least twice. The first time you beat it so you can have the satisfaction, and to unlock the vs. mode, and the second time you will beat it to unlock the two extra characters and levels in vs. mode. The third time you beat the game will be to prove to yourself you can get an A ranking. And each time you beat it after that will be just for fun. And you most likely will beat it many times because it is first and foremost really fun, due mostly to the amazing battles and need for strategy. Also the game is fairly short (it took 2Ĺ hours and thirteen continues the second time I beat it). And finally you will at least play the two-player mode when you have friends over because it will be one of most enjoyable two player fighting games you own. Even my moron anti-gaming friends find this game undeniably fun. 4 out of 5

      Story/Dramatics: During an invasion by a large military regime, you find yourself as the reluctant (read as whiny) hero Leo Stienbuck. You as a kid must pilot Jehuty (an amazingly advanced mech. that the invaders are trying desperately to either acquire or destroy) in an attempt to thwart the invasion and reach a safe haven. The story itself is kind of cool, but unfortunately a team of chimps working at a typewriter may very well have written the script. 3 out of 5

      Instructions and Learning Curve: The daunting list of commands is actually easily mastered in this game. This is due in part to their simple and intuitive layout, and to the instructions both in the game, and in the manual, which tell you everything you need to know. The manual is not only very good at showing you how to do everything; it is also a very short read. So, those of you who canít read more than fifty words at a sitting (and you canít be offended because you wouldnít have made it this far in the review) wonít have any trouble assimilating it all. But even if you donít care to read the manual there is a good in-game tutorial that is extremely helpful in establishing your piloting skills. However if you choose to tackle the game on your own you should be kicking butt within fifteen minutes from the first time you turn it on (not counting the intro movie). 5 out of 5

      Installation and Real System Requirements: This game seems to use almost everything the PS2 has to offer. As far as the systems capabilities graphically this game stets a new standard for other developers to follow. The load times are reasonable and wonít make you impatient. It does require a fairly large amount of memory card space (280kb). But it also fully utilized the Dualshock 2 controller complete with digital and analog controls, and even the pressure sensitive buttons. It would be kind of cool if it supported link mode combat, but entirely unnecessary considering the way the vs. mode works. 4.5 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       This game delivers in almost every way possible. Those people who bought this game and only played the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo should shoot themselves. This game has awesome everything except a decent length, and therein lies the problem.

      The Good: Bad ass graphics, super fast and fun battles, sweet levels, a good story, an superb vs. mode, and as a bonus it comes with a free playable demo of Metal Gear Solid 2 (which I played for five minutes then abandoned).

      The Bad: The voice acting leaves a little to be desired.

      The Overall Ugly: If you donít already own this game you need to stop thinking of it as a mech combat game and go give it a fair chance. You may hate yourself later if you donít.

      What it's Worth: $50.00 to $55.00.

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