Thursday, September 15, 2011

Megaman Zero 2

I die a lot, and I enjoy it!

Mega Man Zero 2 was released a little over a year after its predecessor. MMZ was a good game but was plagued by some serious flaws, thus preventing it to become a great game. However, this time around, Capcom has fixed nearly all of these flaws. Mega Man Zero 2 is a near perfect game that will provide you with an awesome gaming experience. Long time fans of the Mega Man series will be excited to find that this game is completely original, and not just another washed up MM sequel.

THE STORY: After the destruction of Copy X, Zero is lost to the desert. Somehow he survives, and finds himself at the new base of tje resistance movement. He learns about Ciel's effort create a new form of energy, which is supposed to bring peace. Meanwhile, Zero got nothing to do, so he agrees to help Commander Elpizo in his "Operation Righteous Strike". Lots of people constantly criticize Mega Man for less than stellar plots. Seriously, stop whining. The sole plot twist of this game might be utterly predictable and the story is mainly unfold with lots of dialogue, but at least it is not at all convoluted. The characters, while two-dimensional, are no worse than those of Final Fantasies. While Mega Man Zero 2's text and still images might lack the spectacle of Mega Man X4's cutscenes, the characters actually have sort of semi-believable motives rather than being black and white caricatures dragging the story to the level of "Inchon". And that matters much more than flashy cutscenes. It is a video game plot: Why are the resistance soldiers complete chickens? Simply so that Zero can take over for them, giving the player something to do. I couldn't have it any other way. With only few exceptions, video games aiming for cinematic plots have failed in both narrative and interactive levels. If you want a engaging, well written and meaningful story, do me a favour and go read a book.

THE GAMEPLAY: Awesome. Gameplay is virtually identical to the original, except for some new features. Unlike the original, Zero no longer has limited continues. You now have as many as it takes you to accomplish your goals. This is appreciated since this game is extremely difficult. More so than the first. Completing the levels is now much tougher. The levels involve more precision jumps, dashes, and landings. Each level will take numerous deaths before you can complete it. However, once you get to the boss of each level you will probably beat him with little difficulty, since almost all of them are easy. Bosses are actually fun to fight in this game. They use different strategies and numerous attacks that, unlike most other MM games¸ are fun and interesting to fight against. You wont be fighting a boss and think to yourself, “Didn’t I fight I guy like this in the other MM games?” On a separate note, Zero now has the ability to use different weapons. At the beginning of the game you are given the opportunity to pick up 2 new weapons. The Shield boomerang and the Chain Rod. The SB is a shield you can equip to deflect enemy shots and can be used as a weapon, by throwing and having it return to you, similar to a boomerang (hence, the name, Shield Boomerang). The CR is a rod that can be used as a grappling hook, to climb ceilings, move blocks, and better positioning yourself for an attack, for example when you encounter an enemy you can use the CR to attach to the ceiling, and swing yourself behind the enemy so you can attack him from behind. Like the SB this can also be used to attack your enemies. The best feature however, is the ability to equip different armors, that boost Zero’s stats, and give him some new features. By doing certain tasks in a level, you can unlock up to 10 different armors. Some armors increase your speed, some defense, some attack power, etc. Interesting new feature, that I would like to see applied in future MMZ games, if they decide to continue the series (but of course they will, Capcom revolutionized the concept of milking as much $ out of its sequels as humanly possible. Why would this game be any exception?) Gameplay owns in this game. Only reason it is a 9, and not a 10, is because I think they should have made more weapons available for Zero to use, and the difficulty is insane.

THE GRAPHICS: Graphics are good. Oddly enough they seem the same as MMZ. Graphics are good nevertheless.

THE SOUND: Wow! For my money, nothing gets better than 16-bit sprites. MMZ2 has about the same graphics as MMZ1, save for changes made to the character pictures in dialogue windows (Ciel's new picture looks pretty cute, hee hee hee). I also could swear that the animation was smoother, but it might just have been me. The backgrounds look great, namely the one for Poler (shouldn't that be polar?) Kamrous' stage - breathtakingly beautiful! The sounds are pretty much the same as MMZ1, with some nice additions, like the rattle of the chain rod, things like that. The music has been drastically improved. Some of the tracks were amazing! A particular favourite of mine was the song played in the Sand Wilderness (the opening stage). Overall, I was taken aback how well the graphics and music were, and I wasn't disappointed by the sounds either.

THE CHALANGE:  This is the part where I explain the title I gave my review. I did, in fact, die, and fairly often at that. For example, in the first forest area you go to (the name escapes me), the game expects you to use the chain rod rather proficiently. Until I was able to do that (it didn't take long), it was a little aggravating, but I just couldn't put the game down. I don't know what it was about certain parts, but no matter how difficult or challenging things got, I kept coming back for more.
About mid-way through the game (you'll know it when you get there), you have to navigate Zero from point A to point B by way of some rather small, rather mobile platforms. Did I mention these platforms also shoot at you? They do. Either way, I wound up losing count of how many times I died, but it was at that point I thought of what to call my review. I had a lot of fun, even while dying at a rate of about 5 times a minute! Mega Man Zero 2 has something that most games now-a-days are missing. I can't quite put my finger on what it is exactly, but whatever it is makes this game something special.

OVERALL: Mega Man Zero 2 is a lot of fun. It took me about 5 hours or so to beat, but until I returned it to Blockbuster, it never came out of my GBA. Since I'm writing this around Christmas-time, I should mention how I put this game at the top of my list. If you liked MMZ1, buy it. If you never played MMZ1, rent MMZ2, then buy it. It won't let'cha down!
SYSTEM: Game Boy Advance



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