Zeno Clash 2 ReviewPC
key review info
- Game: Zeno Clash 2
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
The original Zeno Clash delivered a truly unique experience back in 2009 when it was released as a first-person brawler with a special world and some never-before-seen characters.
Now, after four years, Chilean developer Ace Team is back with Zeno Clash 2, a sequel that promises to continue the story, while upping the ante in terms of the world, the characters, or the plot, not to mention actual brawling mechanics.
Can Zeno Clash II improve on the quirky original or should it be knocked out of the ring? Let's find out.
One of Zeno Clash's main attributes was the unique story set in a fictional era called the Zenozoic, in which all sorts of creatures dwelled, from full-on beasts, like the FatherMother, to more human-like beings, like the protagonist Ghat.
The sequel continues this plot and sees Ghat try to take on the mysterious Golem, a powerful being who wants to bring civilization and laws to the world of the game. In order to take him out, Ghat embarks on a traditional quest for allies, this time in the form of other beings who were kidnapped in the original title by FatherMother.
The ally-gathering goal also allows the game to show off the much bigger world of Zeno Clash, from the central city to its outskirts, deserts, ocean coasts, or rocky canyons. All these environments are really impressive from a design standpoint but they're pretty sparse in terms of content, so you'll mostly just run around from waypoint to waypoint, while fighting foes that are scattered around the levels, and uncovering bonus chests.
Speaking of fighting, Zeno Clash 2 manages to improve upon the first-person brawling seen in the original, adding way more moves to Ghat's arsenal. He can now pull off, besides the regular jabs and punches, many other stylish moves like uppercuts or shoulder attacks when sprinting. Once you fill up a special meter, Ghat can unleash more powerful two-handed abilities that throw around foes on the battlefield.
Besides using his fists, Ghat can also wield weapons, ranging from large hammers that can deal a lot of damage but are extremely slow, to longer-range guns that, unfortunately, don't really pack a punch. Ghat also accumulates different items that he can use, ranging from skull-shaped bombs, to a chain, or a special Golem gauntlet. Some are impressive, like the chain or the gauntlet, but the bombs are quite lackluster, as even if you throw them in crowded corridors, enemies quickly manage to run away so they don't exactly inflict the amount of damage you’d have hoped for.
Players can also summon allies in combat but, while they do offer a distraction for enemies so that they don't gang up on Ghat, they're relatively useless and will even hit the player if he gets too close. They also have low health and, when defeated, they'll drop a smoke bomb to disappear.
While the first-person brawling mechanic works great in smaller fights, the game quickly ups the ante and sends after Ghat larger groups of foes that are extremely hard to take down or at least manage. Enemies quickly surround Ghat and, even if you have a mini-map in the corner of the screen, you'll certainly receive a few cheap punches from where you least expect them.
You can choose to lock onto targets, but this system is extremely clunky when there are other foes in your vicinity. Hit detection is also a bit dodgy, so don't always expect punches to land on your enemies even if you made sure to put your target reticule on them.
The game gets a bit easier when played alongside a friend through the cooperative mode, so it's highly recommended to get a buddy to help deal with bigger groups of enemies. In case you prefer trying a solo playthrough, you can always play the tutorial that goes through different combat tips and even recaps the story of the original game.
In terms of visuals, Zeno Clash 2 once again impresses through rich colors and imaginative design. The old Source engine was replaced with Epic's Unreal Engine 3 and the graphics look much better, although there's still a noticeable texture pop-in effect that's quite apparent in the cut-scenes.
The soundtrack is also pretty good but, while the songs complement the action inside the game, the voice acting isn't that impressive, and even manages to make Ghat sound like a spoiled rebel who's constantly tired of everything around him.
Zeno Clash 2 is a good sequel to the original game but, sadly, most of its improvements come at a cost. The bigger open world is visually impressive but it doesn't have a lot of content and looks barren most of the times. The improved combat is nice but, when you're swamped with foes, you'll mostly run around and try to score some quick punches before running some more.
The game could have been quite impressive but these negative aspects weigh it down, not to mention a few glitches in terms of AI and the tough difficulty even on normal.