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Preview: 'Zone of the Enders' a visual treat

GALLERY

 

Platform: PlayStation 2

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(IDG) -- On the heels of "Armored Core 2" comes "Zone of the Enders," the latest mech-fighting game for the PS2. You'll play as Leo Stenbuck, a youngster who "accidentally" takes command of Jehuty: a giant mechanized-robot prototype that's armed to the hilt with all kinds of exotic weaponry. In addition to the narrative-heavy one-player story mode, the game will come with a two-player head-to-head game, where mech pilots can battle it out via a split-screen view.

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Behind the wheel

The most arresting aspect of "Enders" will be its controls. Even non-mech fans will find the game remarkably easy to pick up and play. Through analog controls, the stick will move your mech around, the control pad will cycle through your armaments, and the buttons will lock onto enemies and fire weapons. In addition to your basic blaster and sword, you'll acquire several auxiliary big-bang items, including aerial mines, rapid-fire Vulcan cannons, and armor-piercing javelins. There's close combat too, as you can battle hand-to-hand and even execute throws. Adding to the challenge will be a developed enemy A.I. that evolves according to how much skill you exhibit during battle. In the preview version, the controls were very responsive and never became confusing or frustrating÷even when engaged in heavy battles against multiple opponents.

Enders is just the beginning

Another of "Zone"'s strengths were the visuals. In the preview build, the graphics were clean, razor-sharp, and loaded with details and special effects like explosions and weapon discharges. Intercutting the battle sequences were several anime-ish rendered cinemas that helped propel the one-player story to its conclusion. Accompanying these visuals was a techno-pop music track soundtrack and lots of voice talent that breathed life into the dialogue-heavy script. So far, it looks as if "Armored Core 2" will fall into second place on the mech-fighting rankings when "Enders" hits the shelves in March.



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