Nier User Review
What it is is all this and more, an amalgam of genres (as is becoming common these days) blended together in an uncommon, yet pleasing way. When I first started the game I was immediately put off, all I saw were shortcomings and shortcuts and if I had to review it 2 hours in I would have given it a 5.5 at best. But then something happened, all the curveballs it threw added up to something unique and by the end, a very enjoyable experience. But, as a reviewer I can't overlook the drawbacks as much as I'd like to.
The graphics are so bad you may laugh at them. In a few places it looks like a PS3 game, in a few places it looks like a PS1 game, and in most places it looks like a PS2 game. The good news is once you begin to get into it, you just stop caring. One issue is that every Shade pretty much looks the same, like a rejected sketch of a Tron-inspired humanoid. This makes it altogether strange that they spew tons of blood since they appear to be made out of some kind of paper. However, what makes up for this is the big bosses which are both creative and impressive.
The gameplay is rather simple but very effective: assign your powers and attack in real time. You'll have numerous weapons and magic which are better suited to certain battles and are customizable in cool ways. First you can upgrade weapons with materials, but you can also add attributes to weapons, martial arts, and magic by collecting words and parts of words and stringing them together. It amounts to a very cool system which is fitting because words and literature are a major theme in this game.
The controls are hit and miss, riding the boar is damn near impossible to do without crashing and Nier is pretty herky-jerky, but you'll usually hit what you are aiming at. You aim your magic by changing the camera angle, which is strange and sometimes very effective but other times very bothersome. Fishing is ridiculously difficult, but luckily you only have to do it once.
The sound is the real star of this game, I think it's worth playing just to listen to these great awe-inspiring tracks which reek of epicness and just come off as exotic. I have a copy of the soundtrack and I love it. The voices are very well done too. Sometimes they don't fit though, like when an old man goes "S'up?" in a surfer voice. But for the most part the acting itself is awesome. Kaine, well yeah she curses like a sailor and I wish they hadn't had it so blatant, but if you see her ending everything is explained pretty well. You will still cringe every time the opener begins with her yelling at Weiss.
So why isn't this pulling down 8-9 from me? Well as much as I loved the story and the full experience it was very clear that Cavia was on a limited budget when they made Nier. For one thing to make money and level up you have an endless amount of side quests that are ALL basically just fetch quests. Not only that, but you will find yourself running over and through the same areas dozens of times. While this may help a little to make you feel this is your homeland that you want to protect, in this day and age it just doesn't stand up to other experiences and is so repetitive that if you aren't an old school RPG lover whose bread and butter was fetch quests, you'll get real tired real soon.
Buildings tend to devolve into 2.5D structures when inside, it gives the game character, but is clearly a shortcut. The AI of your partners is pretty bad too, at most they help hold off the baddies while you do all the real work. Then there are the text aspects where your journey just becomes a narration in text on your screen. It is well executed but you may well find yourself thinking "God when am I gonna get back to the action?"
So, while I recommend Nier to most, I tell you that you will be ultimately satisfied but not blown away or overly impressed. There is, however, and undercurrent of brilliance to this game and I expect great things from Cavia in the future.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.