So here is a game that centers on a race of human mimicking robots, known as reploids. They are identical to humans in every way, save for the inner circuitry, and have even managed to display signs of emotions. They also happen to be struggling for their self-preservation due to the fact that a human government has ordered, seeing them as a threat, to dispose of every last one of them, an action referred to here not as murder or execution but as "retirement"...
I'm surprised Capcom didn't simply include the scrolling prologue found in Ridley Scott's 1982 science fiction movie Blade Runner.
This being considered, either the developers have either officially run out of inspiration, or it's their way of honoring Mr. Scott's cult movie (without letting anyone know, of course). Either way, this case of indirect plagiarism or lack of originality, depending on how one looks at things, is probably the least important symptom this game suffers from. Bearing this in mind, I can only say that this new series is off to a very bad start.
What this game fails to realize is that it has a reputation to live up to, for it bears the name Mega Man in its title. Unfortunately, this reputation of quality hasn't been upheld with the last few entries in the franchise and with this latest addition, so many elements have been changed—most of which for the worst—that I don't know why they even bothered calling it a Mega Man game. Most levels have become relatively shorter than those found in the X series games and the difficulty level appears to be spiked whenever Zero faces bosses. It should also be noted that the concept of collecting adversaries' weapons (which has become a trademark in the series) has now been completely thrown out the window, making such enemies even more meaningless now then they already were in the last few sequels of the X series.
As for the newly added elements, the one that probably stands out the most (other than the awful character designs) is the addition of the Cyber Elves. Now, I don't have anything against finding an upgrade that would give my character a special ability. However, feeding a fairy in order for it to perform a trick for me is something I'd leave to role-playing games. In fact, the developers should have probably concentrated less on leaning the game towards that genre and more on creating a quality platformer—something that wasn't achieved here.
Mega Man Zero also shows itself to be merciless when it comes to offering second chances. Players start off with three lives and, after that, unless they can find some additional ones(which aren't that common) the game ends for good. On top of that, when losing a life, if someone chooses the option to "give up" and leave the stage, anything that could have been collected in that area is permanently lost. Considering the difficulty certain levels might offer, this wasn't exactly the smartest feature to add to this game.
Another problem this game appears to have intentionally brought upon itself is a heightened level of violence that the previous titles in the series did not share and which was certainly not needed here. Indeed, Dan wasn't kidding when he wrote that some scenes should have brought upon Mega Man Zero much more than an E rating by the ESRB. The opening scene, which he commented on, can only be described as having been inspired by a Vietnam War movie. Another example of this overly graphic violence can be seen when Zero slashes an enemy with his saber. In previous X games, the result would simply have been a small explosion, as would be expected after destroying a being made of circuits and wires. Here however, the enemy is shown being split open in half before it is destroyed, displaying to all its bright red interiors. Now I shouldn't forget that these are only robots and that there are no humans being killed. However, I wouldn't be surprised if, in the next installment in the series, the developers added some sort of red fluid to the effect, all while claiming it was only motor oil. This would, in turn, allow them to preserve an E rating, something that I too don't understand how this game could possibly have managed to receive.
Capcom has been driving the Mega Man X franchise straight into the ground every since it first set foot on the PlayStation and, judging by this spin-off entry, it looks like they're determined to sink it all the way down into the tenth level of Hell. If nothing is to be done about this, it would probably be better to simply lay the series to rest. Permanently.