Zone of the Enders (often abbreviated as Z.O.E.), is a hack and slash game that was developed and published by Konami for the PlayStation 2 and produced by Metal Gear director Hideo Kojima. The game is based around mecha combat with the player controlling the "Orbital Frame" Jehuty. Across the game, the player has to protect towns from enemies and obtains new weapons.
The plot is set in Jupiter and follows a young colonist named Leo Stenbuck who is one of the few survivors from his colony after it was attacked by the military force BAHRAM. Surviving using Jehuty, Leo is on a mission to return Jehuty to the Space Force and uses the Frame protect civilians. The game was created with the intention of having a more serious and realistic focus on the mecha genre. The mechas were designed by Yoji Shinkawa, the character and mechanical designer for the Metal Gear series. The music was composed with the idea of fitting the game's atmosphere.
Critical reaction to Zone of the Enders has been positive. While the combat and the graphic has been generally well received, the short length and its poor localization have been the most commons areas of criticism.
The plot is set in the year 2172 when mankind has conolised Earth's moon, Mars and Jupiter's moons. A military force known as BAHRAM sends its primary offensive unit to attack Jupiter colony Antilia in order to secure two advanced machines known as Orbital Frames. One of the few colony survivors, a young boy named Leo Stenbuck, sees his friends being killed by a falling LEV. He flees to a hangar, where he finds an Orbital Frame by the name of Jehuty. Using this suit and its built-in AI A.D.A, he fends off the BAHRAM forces led by officer Viola who seek to claim Jehuty on the orders of their leader Nohman. Leo is then contacted by the commander of the civilian transport vessel Atlantis, Elena Weinberg, who belongs to Earth's military forces, the United Nations Space Force. As Jehuty's original pilot died during the attack, Elena requests Leo's assistance to deliver Jehuty back to them as they need to take it to Mars. Leo reclutantly accepts to protect other survivors but he refuses to kill his enemies.
Battling through Antilia, Leo often clashes with ADA as he is against killing enemies while ADA tends to tell him killing enemies is necessary to survive. He ends rescuing civilians, including his friend Celvice Klein, and defends the colony from destruction, defeating the BAHRAM forces and their commanders one by one. Before reaching Atlantis, Leo encounters Viola who seeks a rematch. Athough Leo defeats Viola, he is unwilling to kill her. Later, Atlantis pilot Rock Thunderheart meets Leo in person and reveals that the BAHRAM forces are still determined to obtain Jehuty and are threatening with destroying the colony. Thunderheart requests Leo's help to pilot Jehuty once again as he has realized his skills are superior. It is then when Viola shoots Celvice to force Leo to fight again. Celvis is taken to the Thunderheart to be treated while Leo goes to save the colony.
Leo goes to the docks to disarm the explosives placed there to destroy the colony. Viola battles him once more, but is defeated and killed when a leftover bomb blows her out of the colony and into Jupiter's atmosphere. Nohman himself then appears in Jehuty's twin Frame Anubis, that was captured by BAHRAM. Anubis' power and speed overwhelm Jehuty forcing Leo to search for a way to escape. Before Nohman can destroy Jehuty, Atlantis blows a hole in the wall and covers Jehuty's escape. As Jehuty is docking, ADA reveals to Leo her programming: when taken to the fortress Aumaan on Mars, she is to eject her pilot and self-destruct Jehuty, destroying the frame and the fortress. Saddened by this, Leo leaves Jehuty's cockpit and meets up with the crew of the Atlantis and Celvice, who survived her gunshot wound.
- Hideo Kojima believes that the reason Zone of the Enders failed sales wise is because it was released at a "bad time"
- Some of the music in Zone of the Enders was used in Metal Gear Online
- Jehuty went through several name changes, from New Eden to names such as Exodus, The Whisper, Vision Divine, Lightning and Megadriver.
- A common joke involving Zone of the Enders was caused due to the game coming with a demo for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, because of this people refer to Zone of the Enders as "That free game I got with the $50 Metal Gear Solid 2 demo" or "In latest news, the Metal Gear Solid 2 Demo is coming in stores, it even comes with a free game which was nice of Konami"