Review by arcanehavoc
"Entertaining, but Not Inspiring"
Nier is an RPG that contains the standard elements: (1) A different world where magic and technology are combined; (2) Good vs Evil; (3) Medieval weapons and magic are the weapons of choice; (4) There's a story and a purpose beyond the immediate clash of protagonist and Evil. As this is a quick review, these are my immediate impressions after playing the game (first time through).
Graphics: I've seen PS2 games that had better play graphics. The cut-scenes are the exception; these are beautiful and well-rendered. However, the bulk of the game isn't comprised of cut-scenes, though they are plentiful. During the running around you might find an odd glitch here or there due to the shifting camera angles, but overall it is a pleasant view. It's not awe-inspiring nor is it very colorful. Think watercolors and pastels. The noticeable exception comes from the blood that's splattered by evil creatures when they're being hacked and slashed. The bright red splashes are in sharp contrast to the environment (where ever that may be) but the blood stains dissolve quickly and don't detract from the game. Still, if you're looking for eye candy, this ain't it.
Game Play: First, I want to say that the story is rather good. It's not great, but it held my interest. The many, many, many grinding side-quests that I attempted were generally frustrating, but some were good plot snippets that added little twists to the main plot. One series of side-quests involving a robot-infested factory was especially poignant. Second, the music was good --- for the first seven or eight hours. After that I muted it; I realize others have praised it to the heavens, but I found it grating after a few days of play.
The controls were simple and used most of the buttons on the controller. Buttons could be configured easily, and with different magics becoming available it was necessary. The controls were intuitive and the game prompted when necessary. No problems there. However, using the L3 knob to shift the camera angle bothered me. I don't personally enjoy the sort of game where the camera swivels and swings about. This is a personal issue; I actually get a little queasy after a few hours. This limits my time playing --- no way I'd stick this out for seven or ten hours (or more) straight, like I did in Dragon Quest or FFX!! I found that targeting bad guys was also sometimes an issue, as well as being aware of threats in the middle of a melee. Swinging the camera around helps a lot, but this makes me 'seasick' after a while. I haven't read any reviews where this was mentioned as a problem, so it's just me. I prefer solid camera angles that change as needed rather than a constantly shifting point of view, though I realize that many games seem to be heading in this direction. If there was more interaction with the environment I could understand the point of the shifting angles, but I didn't have it for the first few installments of the Resident Evil franchise (or other enjoyable RPG's), and I didn't need it.
The issue of side quests must be addressed. In order to level up weapons, earn money to obtain some healing potions and weapons, and be rewarded with some magic 'words' to enhance your character and his magic and weapons, you'll be forced to participate in some side quests. There are many to choose from; you don't have to complete them all. However, you're going to have to grind away at them. Considering the somewhat limited world of the game (it's wide, but I wouldn't call it HUGE) this becomes a little boring. Run here and get this. Look for that. Report back. Fight evil minions along the way. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. As I mentioned above, some DO offer intriguing cut-scenes and add to the story, but most do not. You must fight the evil minions (be they biological or robotic) in order to obtain items for resale or to upgrade your weapons/character. Thus, you will take on quests (even if you don't finish them) just because running around the world fighting minions is essentially what must be done to grow as a character, and your character needs a superficial reason to do this. I didn't like it much, but with an RPG one expects to run into this sort of thing to one degree or another.
Now, to follow the "charted course" of the game would have shortened the experience because the plot is not elaborate. It's interesting, but not complicated. Still, it's taken more than 20 hours to finish. But then I'm the sort of RPG player that putters along and explores as much as possible. I also like to level up my character, and in this case I found it necessary. Some of the Boss fights were tough for me, at least the first time through. I found myself being forced to run around just to buy more stuff or improve. It was enjoyable, but I'm NOT going to play it again soon just to complete some additional quests and earn a different ending. I'm not that intrigued with the story; I'm not enamored with the game.
Overall, it's entertaining. It's an RPG with a decent story and average graphics. Maybe I'm being jaded about the look of it, having just pushed through another (very colorful) RPG recently, but I doubt it. It's look is part of the plot, actually. It's not long. An avid player could probably go through the game in one or two sittings, but it's taken me more than a week of two and three hour sessions. It offers some replay value for anyone who wishes it, but I find myself satisfied with just one journey through this world. I might take it out and play it again after taking a break for a couple of years; I'm not going to resell it. I suppose that last comment (and an overall score of 7) sums it up.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 07/19/11
Game Release: NIER (US, 04/27/10)
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