Few will finish Project X-Zone 2. There’s little reason to. At a bloated 45 or 50 some hours, its redundancies grow tiresome. This tri-publisher cross-over shows no pacing discipline. Neither did the first X-Zone – that was 70 hours. These games are enamored with themselves.
Even shy of the halfway mark though, there’s enough to feel satisfied. The exhausting encyclopedia of JRPG references and catchy-as-a-pop-song combat is enough to spill, say, 20 hours into this confounding thing, still walking away content. Storytelling dazzles with its effortless shift into universes and portals and time travel; it’s junk (and knows it’s junk) but there’s no other way to merge .hack and Resident Evil and Shenmue and Street Fighter. Go with it. TV and movie cross-overs bend their will to licensing too.
Each company – Sega, Bandai Namco, Capcom – sink deep into their catalogs to pull out any one-off sprite or cameo to be a character. The most ardent followers of each studio will still notice a few names whiff. Miss a few and it will be okay. Project X-Zone 2’s translation is glazed with nods to Weird Al Yankovic, Terminator, and in-industry humor, a pleasing pop and game culture romp.
Project X-Zone 2 seizes the same appeal as the first, that oddball marriage of twitch brawling and isometric strategy. Ungainly in conception, fantastically overdone in execution. Sprites are gorgeous, animation is hyper-Japanese, and all of the sexist dialog you’d expect is intact; industry dialog has bounced off Project X-Zone 2. Blissful naivety or a purposeful slap to PC culture – Project X-Zone 2 doesn’t show any care either way.
Like many of the franchises featured, Project X-Zone 2 is frozen in time. Or through time. Or in a portal. Or something.