Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner - M∀RS

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner - M∀RS Game Poster Image
Remastered mech action gets disoriented by technical issues.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Essentially a story of revenge. Main character’s choice to fight is also taken away after his life ends up being tied to his Orbital Frame as a makeshift life-support system.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Protagonist is forced to fight but is driven by revenge. Supporting cast has more than its share of secrets, ulterior motives. They're not necessarily bad, and are certainly better than the game's villain, but they wouldn't be seen as heroic, either.

Ease of Play

Although basic controls are relatively simple to use, a lot of quirks add to complexity. Locking on to multiple enemies is meant to be helpful, but frequently it either misses some targets or locks on to unintended ones. Finally, camera controls can be difficult to manage, can be particularly disorienting in VR.

Violence

No shortage of mech-on-mech violence. But there are direct and implied human deaths too. You can hear the screams of people you fail to rescue from collapsing buildings during the gameplay, and cutscenes show characters getting crushed, shot, otherwise injured or killed, with a fair amount of blood shown on-screen.

Sex

Some billboards in the background show bikini-clad models in suggestive poses.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner - M∀RS is a high-definition remake of the original 2003 mech-based action title for the PlayStation 4 and Windows-based PCs. The game features optional virtual reality (VR) support for the PSVR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive. Characters in the story have their own motivations for their actions, none of which are very positive. In fact, revenge is the central theme of the game. There's lots of violence, including multiple instances of blood shown on-screen, but there's nothing explicitly graphic or gory. Players will hear screams of people they fail to rescue, and cutscenes show people being crushed and shot, with lots of blood shown. The game features relatively simple controls, but the in-game camera can be disorienting, especially if playing in VR mode. Finally, billboards in some areas show bikini-clad models in suggestive poses.

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What's it about?

ZONE OF THE ENDERS: THE 2ND RUNNER - M∀RS is a remake of Konami's 2003 sequel to its Zone of the Enders sci-fi action series. This sequel has been updated and enhanced with new high-definition visuals and surround sound, while giving players their first chance to sit in the cockpit of their own Orbital Frame with the addition of optional full VR support. The sequel takes place two years after the events of the original Zone of the Enders. Players take on the role of Dingo Egret, a former soldier left for dead and living in a self-imposed exile. Dingo's pulled into the ongoing interplanetary conflict after stumbling across Jehuty, the powerful Orbital Frame mech from the first game. Attacked and left for dead (again), Dingo's broken body is connected to Jehuty, turning the mech into his personal heavily armed life-support system. This comes with a price, as Dingo is forced to fight in Jehuty or risk having his lifeline cut. What follows is a tale of revenge and betrayal and a battle for both Dingo's life and the fate of the entire solar system.

Is it any good?

While this fast-paced action remake brings a classic action franchise back to life, its technical issues wreck the gameplay and stand out like a sore thumb. Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner - MRS brings back a series that's been gone for a decade and a half. Gamers first met Dingo Egret and followed his adventure in the legendary Orbital Frame Jehuty on the PlayStation 2. Now, Konami is reintroducing the mech-based sci-fi battle over humanity's destiny in space. This time around, though, players can feel the action right from the cockpit, thanks to brand-new full VR headset support. But after 15 years, can a fresh look and new feature breathe life back into the long dormant franchise? Or is it just trying to hide its flaws behind a shiny coat of paint and a distracting gimmick? While the game sports new HD visuals, it can't help but show its age, particularly when updated elements like the mechs are shown against bland background textures. It just feels out of place.

Basic controls in Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner - M∀RS aren't the main issue. In fact, it's surprisingly easy to control the Orbital Frame. Attacks automatically switch between ranged and melee as needed, and quick dodges or tactical maneuvers are relatively fluid. The problem comes from the game's camera, which frequently can't keep up with the action on-screen. It's difficult enough to keep your bearings in standard gameplay, but in full VR mode, the problem is amplified tenfold to the point of occasional nausea. There are also some strange quirks with the targeting system, with some enemies never getting marked -- or worse, locking on to non-enemy targets. It's not a game breaker, but it's an additional frustration. Despite these issues, there's still some fun to be had in Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner - M∀RS, and it's interesting to finally get a first-person view of the action in VR. Just make sure you've got an airsick bag handy when the action picks up speed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner - MRS affected by the science fiction setting with battles between robots? Would the impact be intensified if the violence shown in cutscenes against people was the action constantly shown throughout the gameplay?

  • How has virtual reality technology evolved and what do you think the future holds for it? What are some of the benefits and problems that come with VR tech?

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