Review by NCPwn
"Fantastic experience like no other"
The strongest part of this game is the story it tells, and the one you experience. While most games have a simple plot of "you are the hero, go save the world", this is not the case at all in Nier. You are a father trying to save your daughter from a fatal illness. While that might seem simple in premise, it's actually just the start of the adventure. I'd like to mention that the story differs from traditional games. For example, we don't just start with trying to save our daughter, and then delve into a bigger plot of saving the world, like you would see in other JRPG games. Nope, in Nier the bigger plot revolves around the simple idea of a father trying to save his daughter. Furthermore, your storyline is one of many in the world, and you often don't know what the bigger picture is. Just like in life, we are aware of the stuff that happens around us, but are clueless about what happens in other countries and places.
The way Nier presents its story is just as great as the story itself. The timeline isn't always linear, and you have to make connections and figure things out as more information is revealed to you as you play the game. This is at the core one of the reasons most people enjoy the story. The game has multiple play-thoughs. You don't have to play the game from the beginning each time, instead, you start about 60% of the way into the game. Which makes it about 4 to 6 hours to beat the game over and over. In fact, you need to beat it 4 times to get the full grasp of the story, and even then some online research might answer more questions. Each play-though will expose more of the story, making you question actions and observations you had on characters and the plot before. basically, this is why everyone loves the story. Nier is constantly rewriting the story, not in a bad way to make you angry, but in a way that helps you step back and look at the bigger picture inferring new ideas and opinions on things past.
I'm not going to go through the characters because that would spoil the plot, obviously. However, I would like to mention that this game spends a lot of time, if not more time, on the supporting cast than the hero himself. It's great to see games use the supporting cast as real story elements. The game doesn't just introduce these characters. They make you love and hate them. They make you feel for their strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes they have you switching your opinions multiple times!
So you want to know how Nier plays like?
Nier is a Action-RPG-BulletDodge-HorrorSurvival-DungeonCrawl-TextAdventure-platformer
One of Niers strengths is the fact that the game is unique with nothing else like it. It's most like the Zelda games format. Collect McGruffins from temples connected by a hub of zones (overworld). Except instead of using different items in each dungeon like Zelda does to keep the game fresh and enjoyable, Nier changes the dungeon's genre. So In one dungeon you might be doing a bit of platforming and in another you might be involved in a text adventure. The point is that each dungeon has a unique feel, just like Zelda dungeons do. I think this was an extremely smart way to go about it.
You can think of Nier as the Jack-of-all-genres, master of none. It does everything good, but doesn't excel at one thing the most. Most of the time, you will be searching for a way to help your daughter, while traveling the world in search for a cure. There is a mount you can ride, but honestly the world is quite small (about 4 or 5 zones which take about 1 to 2 min to reach the end of the zone. Think Zelda Ocarina of Time world size. In fact, one of the reasons why this game is so great is that the world is the perfect size and not huge and boring.
Combat exists of 3 styles, spears, swords, and 2-hand swords. Swords are weak and attack fast, and 2-hand swords are strong and attack slow. Spears only thrust in front of you and are fast and strong, but you lose that 180 degree arch swing that swords give you. You aren't forced to just choose one style of fighting, so find the style you like and stick to that kind of weapon. You can pause and switch whenever you like. Also, there are a few combos, like a kill move when the enemy has been knocked down, a dodge, and a block.
Magic in this game was done right. It allows you to have fun and use it, because your magic bar fills up quickly, but at the same time isn't overpowered damage wise. There are a number of different spells that all do something different. For example you have spells to: shoot like an FPS shooter, give you rotating blades that damage anyone close to you, pound a fist to clobber enemies in an area, etc ..
Customizing your character
You don't have stat points to distribute, but you can customize your spells, your weapons, and your controller! Besides upgrading weapons with money, you will obtain these items called "WORDS". These words all do something different like , +attack damage, + defense, +%loot. You can socket your spells and weapons with these words and customize how you want your guy to be. Do you want a better chance of finding rare items? more powerful magic, better defense? All is possible with these words, though it's not game making or breaking. More importantly, you can customize what skills/spells you want to exist on your R1, R2, L1, and L2 triggers on your remote. You can choose from an array of actions and magic. For example, I had dodge and block on my R triggers, and 2 magic spells on my Left trigger. You could choose 4 magic spells if you wish. You will always attack with square and triangle.
Best damn music in a video game period. Well, Zelda has iconic songs, and a few others, but every song in this game goes well with the theme. It's a great soundtrack. I can't say much more than it's perfect. Go youtube some of the songs and hear them for yourself.
Why does this get it's own category? Because it's truly exceptional. You want to hear them talk just as much as you want to uncover a bit more of the plot as you progress. Everyone is done really well. The lines are delivered really well too. Everything is perfect, the voice acting and talent acquisition at Cavia was spot on. Bravo! The characters will banter back and forth as you are playing in the overworld or in towns. So it's great to feel like you are a real party and not just the leader with followers.
Most people will give the game negative marks when it comes to graphics, and I'll agree to some extent. The game is no Uncharted 2 or God of War. But it doesn't have to be. I still play Ocarina of time, and the graphics just work for that game. The same goes with Nier. It doesn't try to copy anything. It's not trying to be too fantasy, to real world. It's its own style and I think that makes it work in the game. If you must absolutely have the best graphics in the game, then look at some screenshots and decide. But you would be passing on an exceptional game, based solely on the LEAST immersing factor this game has.
Yes, there are a few bad things with this game, but I don't let it interfere with my score because they are so minor that the game would have been 99.6 which rounded up makes it perfect!
The jumping has to be one of the worst I've seen in a game. It feels like their formula for gravity is off. You fall twice the rate, and only jump about half as high as you would expect in real life. The game has a double jump, which saves it, but I found this really odd.
Also, the quests are lackluster. You aren't forced to do the side quests and they only give you money most of the time, but for those that want to do them, they are little more than just fetch quests. When you complete the quest, you get awesome banter between the characters which is great, better than an actual reward I would say.
Lastly, the Trophies. I could care less about trophies, but after beating Nier, I wanted more. The very first time on the PS3 I actually wanted to get a platinum. While it's not hard, its more tedious. Drop rates are very low for rare materials, so you can expect doing the same thing over and over trying to farm rare materials if you need to finish a trophy. Additionally, there is a farming mini-game, but it runs on your PS3's real clock. So you have to wait 30 hours real time before you can harvest crops. This forces users to just get out of the game, modify their PS3 time, then log back in and farm, repeating this several times, which makes this tedious and not fun.
But because all these are optional, I couldn't really bring myself to lower the score. Nier brings a fantastic plot that is both simple and complex, intriguing characters, a fantastic soundtrack, and fun game play, which is why I have rated this game as perfect.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/11
Game Release: NIER (US, 04/27/10)
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