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

It’s a joy to be able to replay a Zone of the Enders game on a modern console. The franchise was a cult classic in the PS2 era thanks to its excellent gameplay and above average storytelling for 2002 standards. Sadly, it didn’t sell well enough to guarantee many sequels. This isn’t a proper new sequel either, as it’s a new version of the second game with some new additions. Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner M∀RS is out now for PS4, PC, and PSVR. Its one small step towards a possible sequels, maybe we’ll get something else in the future! A man can dream.

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Pretending to be inside a mecha will never be boring.

In a way, you may say that M∀RS ain’t nothing more than just a remaster of the second Zone of the Enders game. Technically speaking, you’re not entirely wrong. The gameplay is basically the same, the soundtrack is as good as ever and the voice acting is still as bad as ever.

My biggest gripe with the game is that it also looks exactly the same when using the PSVR headset. In terms of presentation, this is one of the less exciting VR games I’ve played in a while. The PSVR isn’t known for displaying high quality images and high graphical fidelity, so imagine being presented with what’s essentially PS2-era graphics throughout your entire experience. Sure, the game runs at a buttery smooth framerate at all times, and the designs of all Orbital Frames (this game’s mechs) are gorgeous, but this still looks like an early PS2 game being shoved straight into your retina. The cutscenes were the most disappointing aspect of the presentation, as they’re not in VR in any way. They’re basically presented in a small flat screen right in front of you, as if you were playing a non-VR game through your visor. Thankfully, while the presentation is pretty weak, playing the game itself is the complete opposite.

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The way cutscenes are presented in VR is disappointing to say the least.

Playing The 2nd Runner M∀RS in VR is a fantastic experience, and weirdly enough, it’s mostly due to the game’s limited focus on full VR immersion. Sure, you have a brand new view inside the Jehuty’s cockpit, everything is very detailed inside of it (unlike the rest of game’s graphics) and if you move your head upwards you’ll notice the entire mech moving when you press any command button, adding a bit of realism to the final product. Besides this, the rest of the game isn’t exactly immersive as other VR games, and it actually works fine.

The entire VR gameplay revolves around fighting enemy robots with your arsenal of weapons and special moves, destroying everything in sight. No Move controller or PS Aim needed, just strap in your visor, grab a Dualshock, sit back and enjoy what’s basically a first-person version of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner strapped right to your face. The gameplay is fast-paced, the controls are really responsive and easy to learn with a very detailed tutorial to help you out, the lock-on mechanics are extremely useful, and the camera controls are well behaved. For such a fast-paced game like this one, I felt no motion sickness whatsoever, which is impressive for a game that doesn’t last for just an hour or two like most virtual reality releases.

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Only that? I was expecting at least 20 times the amount of enemies to make things fair.

One might wonder why did Konami decided to remaster The 2nd Runner and not the original Zone of the Enders instead, as the lack of a background plot for the first game might be a bit confusing for newcomers. It took me just a few minutes to realize why. The 2nd Runner is a lot more action oriented than the original Zone of the Enders. The original game had a lot of protection missions and slower-paced segments, while The 2nd Runner features a lot more combat and fast-paced action. The plot might puzzle newcomers, but the gameplay was definitely a perfect fit.


I’ll say it again: Zone of the Enders takes the concept of “cockpit” way too literally.

Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner M∀RS is not the best example of VR immersion out there, but that didn’t matter as much. At the end of the day, it was a great new way to revisit a cult classic from a brand new perspective, and a really good addition to the PSVR catalog that focuses more on competent gameplay than trying to immerse you into that game’s world at the cost of decent controls.

I’m glad The 2nd Runner M∀RS exists as a VR title. More companies should start doing games like this. Not all VR games need to be extremely immersive, as long as they are fun. And as long as the conversion to VR doesn’t look lazily implemented and unnecessary, what’s not to love? It’s mechs in VR, for goodness sake!


Graphics: 5.5

When playing it on the PSVR, you can barely notice the graphical enhancements due to the visor’s screen resolution. Cutscenes aren’t presented in VR, breaking a bit of the immersion.

Gameplay: 9.0

The transition to first-person and virtual reality was smoother than expected. The controls are intuitive, the camera controls aren’t a hindrance, and motion sickness was nonexistent.

Sound: 6.5

This game’s soundtrack is truly fantastic, while its cringeworthy voice acting is the complete opposite. Some might actually find it endearing.

Fun Factor: 9.0

It isn’t one of the most immersive VR games out there, but it allows you to replay a cult classic in a brand new way. Plus, you’re commanding a mecha in first-person, what’s not to love?

Final Verdict: 8.0

Reviewed on PS4.
Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner M∀RS is available now on PS4 and PC.
A copy of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner M∀RS was provided by the publisher.