Review by TheLordNickage
"NIER: An enjoyable experience, if flawed."
I picked up my copy of Nier recently, with a bit of skepticism. The small amount of pre-purchase research I performed yielded sub-par screenshots and mixed reviews from friends. Nevertheless, I decided to pick the game up, and was impressed with what I was given. As the title of this review states, Nier is by no means a flawless game. Yet if one can look past a few flaws and gaze upon what the designers intended, you will see a glistening gem.
A harsh score, right off the bat? Nier does not boast amazing visuals. The polygonal clipping was positively awful at a lot of points, the textures are mediocre, and the lighting was unimpressive at best. The environments were sufficient, and the character designs were suitable, if also not the best one has ever encountered. During larger-scale battles, I also noticed some slowdown, but it was not enough to really affect the course of the fight. If visuals are not a heavy concern of yours, you can easily look past these, but upon playing the game, you will realize why I gave such a score in this category.
In my opinion, Nier possessed a wonderful soundtrack. Most of the songs felt very harmonious as I ventured across a vast plain, or was running through a bustling town. During boss fight sequences, dramatic music helps add to the hectic atmosphere. I was by no means displeased with any of the music I heard throughout the game. The voice-acting was definitely passable, with some humorous (if vulgar--be warned, if you have a faint heart for cursing) moments throughout the game. Sound effects during battle are good, you can hear everything from battle cries, roars, gory slashing, and more. Everything comes together well to enhance the experience.
This is a very strong point for the game--possibly the strongest. Without giving any spoilers, I can say that the game holds its share of both predictable and unpredictable plot twists, with a good spread of personalities within the game's cast. The world is not the most in-depth, well-conceived world in the history of video games, but it more than suffices to set the stage for this game to take place in. While the second-rate graphics mar some of the more emotional scenes, it is not enough to detriment the story to a non-enjoyable level.
Yet another shining point for Nier. The protagonist (whom you control, of course) runs quickly, and the controls are responsive. Combat takes place in real time, and the game often pits you against hordes of enemies. Throughout the game, you can power yourself up in a variety of ways; levels are gained through experience points of defeated foes, words can be obtained from fallen enemies and equipped for bonuses, and equipment is gained from various means for further stat boosts. On the subject of equipment, there are over 30 weapons obtainable, which each hold a unique combination of stats and weight. Weapons are also divided into different categories; swords are all-around, spears are quick but have no horizontal range, and two-handed swords are powerful and swing in wide arcs, but are slow. Players can choose which fits their combat style the best. However, another nice feature is the ability to map items to hotkeys on the control, to use items or re-equip weapons on the fly. Weapons can also be upgraded by using materials which can be obtained from fallen enemies, quests, or from picking them up somewhere around the world. The world is not massive in scale, but is big enough to provide a sizable area for the player to explore, fight, and collect items. Within towns, many NPCs give quests, which are mostly fetch quests, but generally yield a good monetary reward. However, what would have been a higher score is lowered by one thing in particular: fishing. At one point the player is required to fish at a certain area. The actual task itself, and the area are explained inaccurately, and vaguely respectively. This has led to frustration from not just me, but others as well. If you can look past the flaw of fishing and don't mind a somewhat grindy experience, Nier's gameplay will be very entertaining for you; it does a good job of integrating combat and a variety of other gameplay elements into the course of the story. Some might think the game grasps for far too many ideas, but I felt it pulled off the idea nicely. Last but not least, multiple endings yields high replayability, but I do feel it necessary to point out that obtaining the last ending will erase the system data for your Nier file (another design flaw, in my opinion). The game does its best to warn the player that this will happen, but be warned nonetheless.
In closing, Nier is not a game for everyone. As mentioned in the above statements, it does have some frustrating flaws. Its visuals are substandard at best. If you can look past this, though, you will find an entertaining experience that you won't find elsewhere. With its fun combat, plethora of quests, numerous items and weapons, absorbing story, and multiple endings, Nier has something to offer, and in no small amount! It has a high replay value, and I would gladly recommend it to any gamer who can see that good things can come in many packages, even ones with sub-par visuals. Final Score: 8/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/15/10
Game Release: NIER (US, 04/27/10)
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