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Aug06
Nier Replicant
A few years ago I was given, as a birthday present, the game "Nier: Automata" for the simple reason that I'd asked for it when my beloved family asked if there was a game I wanted.

It was great fun, and I discovered the joys of Yoko Taro games that, a) end right when you expect the story to continue, b) suddenly switch genres to something unexpected, and c) have multiple endings that you access by loading the saved game file you get when you complete the game... sure I hadn't been expecting 26 endings for all sorts of game ending nonsense... such as 9S just wandering off at the start of your second play and the game deciding you've deserted... or blowing the space station to pieces as you self-destruct.

So when the previous game was remade for the Xbox One and PS4 it was a no brainer to pick it up.

I have to admit that part of me regrets this.

Sadly, like "Shadow of the Colossus" before it the game suffers, at times quite badly, from being a last (or earlier) gen game just tarted up for a new market.

In the case of Shadow, I can see why they did it the way they did in the PS2 days of very little (in comparison) processing power... but it really could have been improved on... the game lets me wander wherever I want to go, and I explored numerous areas where there was a Colossus later on... why not let me fight them in whatever order I choose?

So if it turns out that I'm not yet levelled up enough to fight then allow me to retreat, mark the location on the map, and let me continue to wander the world until I find one I can take down... my the shrines merely point me in the direction of the closest Colossus rather than the next one on the list... none of these changes will alter the story, or the way the game plays out... and they'd be taking more advantage of the new power on offer.

And thus we move onto Nier: Replicant.

It's been given the HD coat of paint in the graphics department... but the gameplay is ancient, the reuse of previously visited areas may have been acceptable 12 years ago, but now it just looks like what it is... padding.

Too often you get a quest that sends you from one location to another, to be sent back again, to be sent somewhere else... and the locations aren't really that varied.

Combat wise there are the Northern Plains, the Southern Plains and the Desert which act as ares you have to cross to reach other locations... where not much happens gameplay wise, these are Seafront, the Mythical Forest, Facade and The Aerie.

Then add in The Lost Shrine (which is so lost there are two known entrances, one of which even has a boat dock) where you have to fight your way to the top far too many times, and the abandoned Factory... which you also have to traverse too many times.

The game is padded by numerous side quests which will take you to a merchant, who can help but needs some resources from one of the other areas, and with limited fast travel you find yourself going back and forth too many times.

Throw in 2 other areas that seem criminally under-used in comparison... the Manor House where you meet Emil, and the Sealed Temple in the Desert.

Some areas end up being cut off once you've been there, some areas of the Factory can't be revisited after the first part of the game, some areas become a real pain as the game insists you stick to the pre-scripted path even if there are enemies at the end of that path that are already shooting at you.

Such as the decent from the broken bridge that takes you to the Junk Heap and the Factory area... where the game becomes a 2D side on platformer, and you HAVE to go down the ladders rather than just jump off because the game says so.

All in all, this means that the game goes from being a decent adventure to a bit of a slog rather quickly if you decide to spend time on side-quests, the old lady at the Seafront lighthouse needs some items to repair the lens... so you have to go all the way to the Junk Heap and the Factory and spend 20 minutes battling through it to collect them... only it seems one run through isn't going to be enough, you'll need 3 or more to get the 10 Lens, if you're lucky.

After 20 or so hours I watched the credits roll (no option to speed them up or skip them) and then start playing again to go for Ending B having just seen Ending A... here the game starts to grind even further... it starts you back at around the midway point to start the final half again, this time the game pads itself out a little more with back story on some of the bosses.

Ending B complete you get to do the same for Ending C, but to get this you need to have collected all the weapons, which means completing some more side-quests, or revisiting areas yet again because you missed a box.

At this stage you know what you need to do, where to go, who to speak to... and yet again, the game thwarts your attempts to skip a few minutes by cutting out the middle man in a task... you can't do that... I know by now that one part of the key is in the Factory, but I can't get it until the game lets me... which means I have to run through the area and then wait for the appointed time to do it again, but with a boss at the end.

And then there are the Trophies/Achievements... I loathe those that state you have to kill a boss inside a time limit, and here they are in abundance, but even then it has to be at the right time... I killed the boss in The Aerie in under 5 minutes (the time noted in the description for this one is 8 minutes, 30 seconds) but because it was in the course of Ending B it didn't count, that Trophy unlocks during the run for Ending C... as does the one for killing the Wolf boss later.

I know I'm not going to get the Platinum on this, I have neither the patience or the desire to grow a mythical plant, or jump through the required hoops to catch a specific fish... and there is no way I'm going to grind combat areas to get the materials to upgrade 33 different weapons 3 times each.

I've just completed Ending C, I have a save to replay the final area so Ending D is maybe an hour away, Ending E takes some serious time and again I've no desire to keep playing that long... I'll grab the final couple of endings and maybe another easily done Trophy in the process... but then it's onto eBay with it.

Given that a lot of these remasters all seem to suffer from the limitations of the old consoles... just hidden behind a new set of clothes of the HD variety... maybe it's time to stop to playing them.

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