E3 Hands-on – Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner M∀RS
The announcement of a PSVR port of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner left me curious, but also a bit skeptical. How would Konami properly port a 15 year old game into a VR device and provide players with a balance of classic gameplay and VR immersion? My questions were answered at E3 2018, when I had the opportunity to test Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner M∀RS at Konami’s booth. I left the demo with high hopes for the final product.
Sadly, the first thing I noticed when I started playing the game was how dated it looked. The PSVR is far from being a visual powerhouse, and the fact it’s playing a 15 year old game with not many visual enhancements is quite off-putting. With the exception of my detailed cockpit, the rest of the game still felt like I was playing it on the PS2. While the entire game can be played in VR mode, its animated cutscenes are still presented on a flat screen in front of you. The voice acting is still as bad as it has ever been, by the way.
While the presentation wasn’t the best, the same can’t be said about the gameplay. The transition to VR has been magnificent! Very little has changed in terms of playing the actual game. Picking it up again and playing it felt extremely natural, as if I wasn’t even paying attention to the fact it was a VR game. The framerate is rock-solid, the combat is fast paced, the controls are very responsive, and the new cockpit UI provides a fine balance of all the onscreen information you need while not being too intrusive, allowing you to immerse yourself into the game.
The demo was long enough for me to fight two bosses and destroy literal hundreds of enemies. In no moment did I feel motion sickness, and that’s impressive, considering the fact we’re talking about an incredibly fast-paced game. I played the entire demo with a normal PS4 controller. Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner M∀RS features no PS Move support, and that’s completely fine. If that’s what it takes in order to have VR games with more fluidity and freedom of movement, so be it. In no moment did I feel less immersed due to the fact I wasn’t using a VR-specific controller.
I have to admit that, while extremely disappointed with The 2nd Runner M∀RS’s graphics and sound department, the sole fact I was able to play a very fast-paced and entertaining version of such a cult classic in VR was more than enough for me to look forward to the final release. The 2nd Runner M∀RS doesn’t try to innovate with motion controls or gimmicks: it’s a very straightforward VR port. It’s the same game, played the same way as before, this time around with the option of being fully playable on a VR headset. Konami opted for a simpler way, and I’m very fine with that. In fact, I would actually prefer for more developers to release games like this one. It might not feature motion controls or a lot of depth, but it’s still immersive and very fun. That’s all I need in a game like this.