Let’s all be honest here: children protagonists are obnoxious. Well, to be fair, video games rarely do children in way that’s not annoying. Usually they have you protecting the whiny, entitled little brats. But even worse is when they’re the player character. If the main character is supposed to be the character we identify with, you need to make them either likable in some way or sympathetic. Maybe I’m just biased, but I almost never like kid protagonists. It’s why I never got into anime like Naruto.
But the anime example is good segue into talking about Zone of the Enders HD because it clearly draws heavily from an anime influence. Just watching the opening cutscene gave me flashbacks to watching Gundam Wing on Toonami (Beware: my inner otaku will probably be coming out in this post). And I’m kind of glad I have that experience because I’d probably be lost about the plot if I didn’t. The opening scene doesn’t really tell you anything about this world you’re about to enter. I could gather enough to get the jist of what’s going on. It starts on colony near Jupiter. But who are these people attacking them in mechs? Are these “mobile frames” common? Is there a war going on? Why destroy the colony? What’s going on?
The story, while seeming a bit vague, isn’t hard to follow thus far. The PC, Leo, is a kid who stumbles upon a Mobile Frame called Jehuty that these bad guys (whoever they are) are tearing up the colony to find. I should point out that the game set me up from the very beginning to hate Leo as a whiny git that needs to be smacked upside the head. What’s the first thing he does in the game? Stand there while his friends literally get crushed to death by a mech. But it’s okay, because they were picking on him. Right? Excuse me while I facepalm.
“But Dame,” I hear you say, “he’s just a kid. He’s not prepared to deal with the repercussions of war.” True, but there’s a right way & a wrong way to portray someone losing their innocence to the cruel world. And Leo’s obstinate “I refuse to kill anyone even though they’re trying to kill me, are trying to blow up my home full of innocent people & have most likely already killed my parents” routine is just stupid. It’s not even naive. Even a child has survival instincts & will fight to protect people they care about.
… deep breath…
Thankfully the few other characters that have been introduced are much less annoying, & as the game progresses Leo complains less & does more.
As for the game itself, I’ve enjoyed it so far. The combat is a lot of fun. Thank God for a lock-on system that works so well. It makes dashing around enemies easy & fun. The only problem I’ve had with the controls is that manually aiming your cannon is difficult. It’s very slow & can be hard to tell what your trajectory is. But you really only have to manually aim at special targets to reveal hidden items. The manual camera is also pretty slow if you’re trying to turn when flying. It doesn’t let me invert the controls, either (Yes, I’m one of those people who hits up to look down). The slow camera makes it hard to look anywhere but straight ahead, even if the camera does automatically go behind you when you stop moving.
I would like to point out something odd I noticed: the position of where Leo sits in the Jehuty. At first I thought the compartment was in its chest, like in Evangelion. But no, the compartment is between its legs. So Leo is literally sitting in this… protrusion from the mech’s groin. It’s just really awkward. I mean, I know it’s called a cockpit but the developers didn’t have to take it so literally.
The game is also looking to be pretty short. I’ve only played for about two hours & I’m already on Mission 10 out of 23, so hopefully I’ll get getting through it next week.