Here we have yet another attempt at to capture the RPG-unfriendly Xbox 360 fanbase with, you guessed it, another RPG. It’s a continuing joke among most gamers that original Xbox and it’s successor exist solely for shooters and shooter-hybrid genres. Well, more of a sad reality than a joke. But Nier wants to change all that.
Regardless of the trigger-happy 360 audience and it’s attitude toward anything that requires patience or reading, Square Enix has been more than stubborn when it comes to releasing role-playing titles for the console. While the Wii has attracted the JRPG amp; Anime RPG, Dungeon Crawler RPG, and multiplayer RPG genres, and the PS3 has picked up a taste for single player RPGs, online-oriented RPGs, and tactical RPGs, the 360 has received mostly generic action RPGs. Square Enix has noticed this trend and wants to cash-in- as usual.
Looking at past efforts, you can detect a pattern from SE. In mid-2008, Square Enix released Infinite Undiscovery exclusively for the Xbox 360. The game was highly experimental for a Square Enix RPG, well sort of. More than anything else it was hyped as a game filled with consequence and reward depending on your decisions. The classic example- ‘while fleeing from a pack of hunting dogs, you might knock some apples from a tree to distract them. However you run the risk of attracting attention from nearby guards because of the apple’. How did this ambitious RPG turn out and how was it received by 360 owners?
In a few words: boring to play and a resounding cry of ‘gay’ from 360 gamers. Infinite Undiscovery not only had a stupid name, the story was regarded as misguided and stupid, the battle system was unsatisfying and stupid, and it’s premise was clichéd and stupid. Needless to say, Square Enix was amused.
Next in line came Last Remnant in late 2008. Armed with a less stupid name a more creative premise- numerous conflicts and wars arising over magical artifacts made for an intriguing set-up. However this time Square Enix dropped the ball by releasing it too early and without nearly enough polish. 360 gamers got a glitchy, ugly game with frustrating gameplay and controls. The PC version featured fewer glitches, but most gamers wouldn’t be fooled again. A PS3 version was planned, but ultimately canceled due to the terrible reception Last Remnant got.
Square Enix sort of shrugged in 2009, giving little effort overall toward cracking the 360 audience. It was 2010 that Final Fantasy XIII was released! Released to a largely unreceptive 360 audience. Then again, who can blame the Microsoft fans for turning their nose up at an over-hyped, over-streamlined Final Fantasy cash-in? An such was the state of Square Enix on the 360…
Now we have Nier staring boldly at the console of three red rings. Here is the culmination of everything Square Enix learned over the years. You have an incredibly foul-mouthed, adult game for an SE RPG- which is already a turn-off for fans of their classic work. You have an overly-complicated story, mostly revolving around destruction, breasts, previously mentioned profanity, and graphics. Yep, there’s your story.
Nier can be described as such: bloody and confusing. You’re pretty much tasked with sitting in your chair, watching HD cut scenes, and running around painting the floor with blood. The combat is mindless, unsatisfying, and incredibly repetitive. The often overtly dramatic, at times vulgar narrative does a terrible job of drawing you in and motivating you to continue. You’ll often groan to yourself and pause the game just to get yourself in the mood to keep mashing buttons.
The story itself isn’t uninteresting, it’s just shoved down your throat in typical self-indulgent Square Enix fashion. At times you might genuinely be curious about some the mysteries surrounding the plot, but your curiosity is killed by how ‘in love with it’s own story’ the game is.
Graphically the game is very impressive with great monster designs and locales, but that doesn’t matter in the slightest when all you’re doing is running through maze-like nowhere-dungeon with time paradoxes and annoying voice actors on your mind. One second you’ll be marveling at your enemies and the surreal setting, the next you’ll be frowning at the annoying characters- especially Kaine.
The female intersex companion to Nier and Square Enix’s attempts at making her appeal to the 360 audience through extreme language and masculine behavior will probably leave you rolling your eyes, scratching your head, and wondering… Why does Square Enix think 360 owners need a mannish woman to attract their attention? So what can we tell from Nier that Square Enix learned about the secret of success on the 360 is? Blood, profanity, graphics, sex appeal, and an overdose of testosterone are a recipe for success! The sad reality here? They aren’t far off from the truth… I’m just surprised the main character isn’t a gruff, angst-filled body-builder that loves one-liners as much as he loves headshots and being hairless .