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Overall, if you haven't played Zeno Clash for any reason, now is the time to pick it up. It's one of the few games where the hype is well deserved, and I'm really curious to see what the ACE team does for the next endeavor. If you have played Zeno Clash, well, I'm not sure there's enough here to warrant another purchase, but the inclusion of limited co-op is certainly a nice draw. It's definitely a great port of what will surely be a PC classic over time, and I don't hesitate in saying that I think it's worth checking out.
Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition isn’t a terribly long game, and gamers shouldn’t have a problem getting through the main campaign in under seven hours. However, regardless of length, the strange, brutal, and somehow beautiful world that ACE Team has created here is one that you won’t want to miss out on.
During one of the later stages in the single-player campaign, melee combat isn’t even possible. Ghat, along with some companions, are slowly floating down a moonlit river. The night sky is purple, making the oncoming enemies easy to spot. Space is limited on the boat, so it’s almost like an on-rails shooter, although it’s not particularly exciting. There’s little threat of death and the gun needs to be reloaded so often that the pace is slowed to that of a pleasure cruise. Despite the lack of exhilaration, it’s a haunting, beautiful journey. The music is perfect. The water is inviting. Lulls in the action are filled with fascinating dialogue and plot development. In moments like this, the style becomes the substance. I’m totally fine with that when it’s done so well.
The addition of co-op in Tower and Pit challenges adds new potential and possibly hours of play, along with the solo time challenge mode, Zeno Rush. Single-player still offers the most WTF factor (in a good way) and remains the main attraction in Zeno Clash, despite its brevity. For 1200 Microsoft Points, Ultimate Edition is, without question, something you’ve got to experience at least once.
Zeno Clash is on par with a night of heavy drinking at Jabba's palace. The next day you're not exactly sure who you are, what just happened, or how much of what you think transpired actually occurred, but you're fairly certain everyone there actually did want to kill you, and your attempts to kick everyone else's ass first was completely justified. It's a pretty crazy, but peel off any of Zeno Clash's layers and you'll always arrive at the same conclusion: "Well, I've never done that before."
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Is it worth your 1200 MS Points/$15? I think so. It has reasonable length for the cost, and if you have someone handy to play it with co-op modes might add a little more to that length; I say ’might’ because unfortunately I was unable to find anyone to play it with throughout a weekend of trying and cannot verify how enjoyable these modes would be. But even without that, I enjoyed Zeno Clash and felt my time with it was well spent. If the prospect of a first-person brawler in the vein of Final Fight with more depth to the controls sounds interesting, give this game a try.
What can't be doubted is that, as a brawler, Zeno Clash delivers each punch in a way that can make other, more complex games look a little toothless, and as an XBLA title it's both a bold and an unlikely prospect. You'll need a hot bath and some strange dreams to get over this one, but then the same is true of Peggle.
Zeno Clash is incredibly hard to explain; it's so off-the-wall that it demands to be experienced first-hand. For a very reasonable 1200 points, it will whisk you away to a land that pushes the boundaries of bizarre. If you decide to drop the cash on it, don't be put off by the intense obscurity of it all; embrace it – as this is exactly what defines the game, and what you'll remember about it years down the line.
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Zeno Clash isn’t perfect by any stretch, and despite having been out for a year on the PC it still needs more polish beyond what was done for the XBLA version. However, having said that, it is still worth the investment to both appreciate its unique graphical style and just plain have fun beating the ever-loving snot out of pitied fools, made all the more visceral from first-person. Try out the demo to make sure you’d enjoy Zeno Clash’s flavor of brawling in first person before diving in with a purchase, but odds are if you like fighting games, you can enjoy Zeno Clash, even with its flaws.
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Overall, Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition is an average game. It brings some new concepts to the first person genre as a whole: some good and some bad. Smashing and bashing in first person is fun at times and brutally frustrating at others. Without a solid online fan base, this game doesn't really have a lot of replay merit. Luckily, the story is long and interesting enough to warrant the $15 purchase. Zeno Clash is originally a PC title and the Xbox Live Arcade title is the same thing with a few extra modes and bonuses to the single player campaign. If you have played it before, there is no need to buy it on the Marketplace. If this is your first venture into the world of Zenozoik, I strongly recommend you download the trial and then determine if this first person brawler is worth your hard earned points.
Despite the combat being flawed, and the "story" failing to live up to its potential, it's still remarkably fun to play. Beyond the campaign, there are some other modes of play, from an arena of sorts to a time trial. There are even cooperative modes to fight together online or via split screen. All in all, it's a tight package, and one of the few examples of a title that is much, much more than the sum of its parts.
Zeno Clash Ultimate Edition has a lot going for it, considering all other first-person games on Xbox Live. If you get a chance to buy it after the inevitable price drop sale in the future, you can't go wrong with Zeno Clash, but at fifteen bucks (and one huge 1.5 GB download), it might be worth holding on to that red pill for later.
I have a feeling that Zeno Clash would have worn on me if it had provided more than its mere three or four hours of play. The inconsistency in its approach and even the melee combat don’t feel expansive enough to last the span of a full-length game. While its quirkiness draws eyes, I doubt there’s much more under Zeno Clash’s surface than weirdness for its own sake and I have very little desire to explore this world more than I did in the course of completing the game. While Zeno Clash feels like a low-budget title (despite looking quite nice), I’d like to think its short length was a stylistic decision. If it is, ACE has hit a sweet spot, delivering an intriguingly bizarre product that whets our appetite and lasts just long enough to remain entertaining throughout while sporting an appropriate price point.
As a full price, retail release, Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition would seem like sometimes primitive niche combat, but as an Xbox Live Arcade title available for $15, Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition is wholly appropriate, if very weird.
At its best Zeno Clash is reminiscent of some Guillermo del Toro films (Pans Labyrinth) and at its worst it feels like one of Napoleon Dynamite's notebook drawings set in motion. At the very least, Zeno Clash provides an experience that most gamers probably haven't experienced before. It is provocative, violent, and definitely interesting, and sporadically fun.
Though Zeno Clash ends like an episode of Lost, with questions outweighing answers, one of the last lines in the game is “there are...things bigger even, than Zenozoik.” In a capsule, this is the allure of the game. Just like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars before it, Zeno Clash is just a small sample of a fully realized reality. I only hope that ACE Team is given the chance to expand upon what they’ve built.
Ultimately, Zeno Clash is a short (5-6 hours), clunky game that offers little in terms of replayablity. If you are looking for something that you’ve never seen before, then check it out. Personally, I’ll wait for a sequel where ACE Team can hopefully flesh out the Zenozoik world and make the combat more responsive.
If the game's oddball nature and average gameplay don't turn you off, then Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition's single-player campaign will take you about three hours to complete on the first run-through. When you throw in the extra few hours the challenge levels add, the game is fair value for its 1,200 Microsoft points asking price. Strangeness aside, Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition is an average brawler at best and definitely more of a curiosity than a classic.
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ACE Team has created a disturbing, engaging universe to play in here. They've sold me on learning more about the world and that first-person brawling has serious merit, but Zeno Clash is only a shaky foundation right now. With Zeno Clash 2 already in the works, I hope the gameplay has a little more oomph next time. If you’re tired of the same ol’ thing in games, though, if you’re in pursuit of something new, Zeno Clash is it.
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Zeno Clash isn’t for everyone, but most players owe it to themselves to sneak a peek. The world design is fascinatingly freaky and displays a level of creativity that our cookie-cutter industry sometimes lacks. That being said, unless you really glom onto the in-depth combat system, the main adventure can be tackled in an afternoon. There are some bonus modes, including Survival and Time Attack, that add longevity, but that will likely only appeal to the diehard Zeno Clash cult. It’s worth a playthrough, but its eccentricities will likely only appeal to a very niche crowd.