publisher: Square Enix
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Apr 27, 10 (released)
|» All About NIER on ActionTrip|
Square Enix opted to release another game this spring, following the launch of their highly anticipated tactical RPG (or whatever you wanna call it) Final Fantasy XIII. NIER was developed by Cavia, a company with a long history and a lot of console games under its belt, not the least of which is last year's Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (Wii). By the way, just so there's no confusion, NIER is also known as NieR: Gestalt in Japan, where it was launched as an Xbox 360 exclusive (Europeans and US gamers got both PS3 and Xbox 360 versions). Another interesting thing is that Cavia also released the game under the title "Nier Replicant," in which the main character is a thinner and younger than the one shown in the European and US versions. The developers felt a youthful male protagonist might appeal more to Japanese audiences and that the current older character would be better suited for Western gamers (well, they're probably right).
There's nothing that quite stops colossal bosses like a dark flying blob.
Those are the biggest dreads I've ever seen.
The game revolves around a valiant, mature-looking male hero called Nier who is struggling to survive in a tough world with his only daughter Yonah. The situation got worse when Yonah became a victim of the so-called Black Scrawl virus. The infection started to spread rapidly and pretty soon Nier heads on a desperate quest to find a cure for his daughter. It may not be the best story ever written, but at least it keeps things simple and a lot less baffling than in, say, Final Fantasy XIII.
In fact, NIER maintains this kind of simplicity in almost every aspect. In all fairness, I can't say whether this approach was the wisest of decisions. Gameplay wise, you'll find that things work similarly to your average 3rd person action adventure. The main character wields a variety of melee weapons (well, mostly swords), in addition to casting a range of deadly spells. Of course, the devs. didn't hesitate to throw in one or two RPG facets to make things a bit more interesting. You slice your enemies, gather experience and level up in time. As you make progress, Nier gets more and more proficient at using weapons and magic. Eventually, he'll unlock a diversity of combos and powerful spells to dispatch numerous foes simultaneously. Sounds very straightforward, doesn't it? The biggest problem with NIER is that it aims to attract gamers with simple gameplay mechanics and rather basic story-telling. Most of the characters you meet along the way convey a wholesome easy-going manner, as each and every one of them showers you with a number of optional tasks (i.e. side-quests). True enough, these tasks are good for one thing - brining in cash and you're going to need a lot of it, if you want to buy a decent weapon. Weapons can be upgraded with special items called words, to allow for extra damage. The same upgrade system applies to magic.
The game takes you across a number of different open areas, where you'll get to run and run endlessly, while employing the usual combination of hack'n'slash style combat skills against armies of persistent foes; different creatures, wild animals and entities referred to as "Shades." Enemies are determined and will keep coming, so it's wise not to let your guard down. There are some cool ideas we've witnessed during a few boss fights, albeit the experience is devoid of any epic jaw-dropping moments like in say God of War III or Devil May Cry 4. Plus, every enemy, be it a shade or colossal boss creature, doesn't seem to provide an adequate challenge and is fairly easy to beat. Most of the time in this game is spent on completing quests that send the main character on a trip on the other side of the kingdom just to finish menial errands or collect specific items. The boredom increases with each step and the generally unimaginative and almost featureless surroundings won't be much of a motivation for gamers to press on.
The graphics represent one of the game's weakest points. The background, characters, objects and nearly everything I've seen in this game, looks too damn retro. I'm sorry guys, but it really does. Next time, check your calendar. This is 2010 and games look way better than this. The soundtrack boasts several pleasing tunes and songs that suit the atmosphere. And while the soft, alluring music could easily draw you into the world of NIER, there's nothing in the visuals or the art direction to warrant a proper immersion.
You'll need more than that puny sword to fight me, son.
What do I have to do to get a fucking drink around here?
I think most of you gathered that when it comes down to gameplay in general, NIER is a lot similar to games like Zelda. The pacing, combat and adventure elements are all very much in the spirit of Nintendo's aforementioned game. However, with NIER, it's simplicity and repetitiveness all the way. Again, I noticed the developers had one or two solid concepts for boss fights, although it's still not enough to guarantee any memorable moments. They even attempted to incorporate some interesting spells to enliven the gameplay, although these occasionally fun magic abilities only postpone the inevitable monotony of a generally generic and uninventive combat system.
The whole time I was playing this game I couldn't help but notice that nearly every aspect needed some extra work. The environments are practically lifeless, with poor textures and hardly any additional detail in the background, the characters are uninteresting, the narrative has been oversimplified and, finally, the hack'n'slash combat isn't different from the average generic console game we often see today.
There's plenty to do in this new world and it's all accompanied by a great soundtrack, and I enjoyed some of the boss fights;
You won't be immersed into the game's setting, the story and characters are too bland, the whole game is too repetitive thanks to a vast array of meaningless quests you're sent to complete in a generally boring and empty world.
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