Review by Master_ShakeXXX
"Nier is a beautiful and unforgettable journey"
Nier was unfortunately panned by critics, and from a technical standpoint, it's easy to see why. The graphics are subpar by today's console standards, the story gets off to a rather slow start, and 90% of the side quests are incredibly tedious fetch quests. When you take into account the time restraints a reviewer has on any given game, the negative scores were pretty much unavoidable. However Nier has garnered a lot of respect from the gaming community over time, and for good reason.
If you persevere through Nier's *obvious* flaws, what you will find is a game of true beauty and art. The story is one of the most epic and emotionally wrenching I have experienced this generation, and it only gets deeper and more tragic on subsequent playthroughs. To give anything away about the story would be a crime, but I will tell you it gets off to a slow start. The first half of Nier's story is mainly spent introducing us to the characters who reside in this amazing world and giving some perspective on their backgrounds.
This slow start may be off-putting to some, but it's necessary in fully realising the game's insanely complex and involving story. It really picks up in the second half though, and only gets better as you progress further. Keep in mind that there are some questions left unanswered after the first playthrough, but delving back into the game multiple times will reveal all and expand on this great tale. A lot of the side quests tend to hinder the flow of things, but these are 100% optional, so you can ignore them and continue on with the main quest. I would advise against skipping ALL of the side-quests though, because some contain hilarious dialogue, and a few even offer little side stories that are brilliant in their own right (the lighthouse lady side quest, for example).
As mentioned earlier, the graphics can be rather ugly and the enemy designs leave a lot to be desired, but still, there's something about Nier's world that makes it a joy to traverse. Basically, this is a place that survived a apocalypse and has once again managed to flourish. It takes on an almost medieval look, but is littered with remnants from a modern day world long since past, like bridges and mechanical contraptions. It's an incredibly unique environment and really gives Nier an authentic feel and atmosphere all it's own. The world of Nier is actually incredibly small by RPG standards, and you will traverse through the same environments multiple times, but it never quite loses that spark.
The gameplay it's self is solid. Melee combat flows pretty smoothly with the occasional frame rate drops when there are a lot of enemies on screen, but overall it runs fine. The magic attacks in particular are unique and varied, and look rather devastating when properly executed. Character animations range from awkward to passable. Nier is pretty easy for the most part, and if you skip all the side quests (again, I advise against this) it could probably be beat in under 15 hours. Pretty short, but it's not the length that counts here. Boss fights are also pretty easy, but they are a blast none the less. Some bosses tower 100s of feet above you, and give off that epic feeling that you will find in any God of War game.
Not much needs to be said about the music. Along with the story, it's one Nier's elements that has garnered critical acclaim. This is simply the best video game soundtrack I have heard in a long time, and one I will never forget. Not only is the soundtrack amazing, but developer Cavia knows how to utilize it perfectly in accordance with the events unfolding on screen. It helps to make certain boss fights and cut scenes that much more poignant and epic, and is a testament to just how talented Cavia is.
The sound it's self is nothing too impressive, but it gets the job done. Voice acting for the most part is top notch, with the exception of a little character named Emil, whose voice I found to be grating and overdone at times. All in all, Cavia really know their stuff when it comes to telling a quality story. Unfortunately Cavia was absorbed into another company, so they will no longer be developing games. 'Tis a shame, because I have a feeling they still had a lot of untapped potential.
In closing, Nier is a game with glaring flaws, but when taken as a whole, this is one of the most beautiful and unforgettable journeys I have ever experienced. It's characters, numerous plot unveilings, climax, and endings have left a lasting impression on me that still lingers long after I have stopped playing. Everyone should ignore the negative reviews and, at the very least, give this underappreciated masterpiece a try. It's name will be whispered amongst gamers for quite a while.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/02/11
Game Release: NIER (US, 04/27/10)
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