Killing robots is boring. I'm not saying that killing robots is always boring as a rule, but killing robots as a goal in and of itself is not worth my time. Killing robots in between doing other adventure-type tasks is just fine, and if there's some kind of special fancy technique involved while actually killing a robot on the way to doing something else, that's usually okay. However, simply walking around generic environments for the sole purpose of killing robots is not only not entertaining, it's a complete waste of time, energy, and money. The fact that such a ridiculously stupid game exists is bad enough, but the fact that it could come from one of the minds behind Castlevania: Symphony of the Night—easily one of the PlayStation era's most entertaining games—is completely mind-boggling.
The game I'm referring to is NanoBreaker, the most recent attempt at a 3D adventure game from Konami, and much like their attempt with the also-catastrophic Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, it's a complete failure.
Starring a salon-beautiful cyber-ninja named Jake, the game limply gurgles a weak tale about technologically advanced "nanites" taking over an island and turning everyone on it into mechanical monstrosities. Our hero is sent in kill everything that moves while assisting a female technician in shutting down the island's central computer. The plot and characters are flatly boring, and really don't matter a bit since the entire game experience boils down to strolling Jake down environments made up of empty hallways and corridors strung together, brainlessly mashing the attack button and taking out every kind of gray, blocky automaton sent my way.
The game makes a big deal about attack combos and Jake's "Plasma Blade," but there's nothing very flashy or entertaining about either. In fact, held up next to the most recent addition to the pantheon of combo superstars, God of War, NanoBreaker looks like a steaming pile of dog mess. No matter which combo I tried, they all looked pretty much the same, and there are only a small number that are really effective. The Plasma Blade gains transformations that morph it into axes and swords and such, but again, it's hardly exciting or impressive to remember that pressing triangle at the end of a long button string will make the glowing blade pop into overhead axe mode for one second before changing back.
The game's graphics are very basic and ugly. I don't know what's going on at Konami, but I wish Hideo Kojima would come over to the studio where NanoBreaker was created and give those guys some lessons. There's no thrill in dismantling stiff gray robots, and the amount of fog in the game is ridiculous. The only real splashes of color come when destroying enemies and seeing huge spurts of blood shoot from their wounds. In the menu screen it's possible to alter the color of the blood into a light or dark version of whatever hue you wish, but I can't help but see this as a pathetic attempt at adding frosting to the driest, chalkiest cake in history. I admit it was marginally novel for a few minutes to notice a rainbow of blood puddles accumulating on the ground where I was striking down metallic zombies, but it's nothing but a cheap one-time chuckle.
The only good thing I have to say about NanoBreaker is that the CG cutscenes were pretty sharp. However, cutscenes are the least important factor when playing or thinking about buying a game. NanoBreaker is a crude, unsophisticated, ugly experience that has absolutely nothing redeeming about it. I can't believe that anyone at Konami headquarters played this game for more than three minutes and actually thought that it was a worthwhile idea to bring it to market.
Between NanoBreaker and Lament of Innocence, I remain absolutely unconvinced that there is any hope for the KCET studio to develop a playable, enjoyable 3D action game. Word has just recently come out regarding another 3D installment in the Castlevania series, and if it's anything like these two games, I'll be staying far away.