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NIER Review

publisher: Square Enix
developer: Cavia
genre: Action Adventure

ESRB rating: M

release date: Apr 27, 10
» 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).

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.

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.


4.3   Tolerable

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.


15 post(s)
Reader Comments
WereGerbel Apr 28 2010, 05:47 am EDT
Holy crap Vader, 4.3. I mean I had an inkling this game would be bad but you have no mercy for trash. In all it feels like a rushed job, just a weekend fancy to put something out. What happened to the Square we knew and loved?
Vader [STAFF] Apr 28 2010, 06:04 am EDT
Well, Square Enix only published this. Still, it's a shame they let it go to waste.
Doomsday. Apr 28 2010, 06:04 am EDT
biGG Fookin' Swords!
Vodoo Apr 28 2010, 06:33 am EDT
what is it with japs and tentacles ??????
Cheddar Apr 28 2010, 06:47 am EDT
what is it with japs and rape ??????

and brother-sister incest ??????

and "lolita" pedophilia ??????

and their police willfully ignoring yakuza sex-slavery trade ??????

and xenophobia ??????

and ultra-nationalism ??????

and continuing to deny hideous war crimes during WW2 ?????


  Cheddar: Seriously though, it's a pretty fucked up culture the…
Alchi: Well they're special. It's a cultural thing and a…
Vodoo: there are animes without supernatural powers or "demo…
Alchi: I know it was a startling revelation to me as well, b…
BmmB: @Cheddar Fucked up culture based on what? Western …
Cheddar: Fucked up because of the simple points I made right t…
BmmB: That's ok Cheddar, that's humanity in all its glory,…
thugangel123: What is it with Americans and black humour? What i…
parnakuma: These are very significant comments about NIER -- esp…
Vader [STAFF] Apr 28 2010, 06:47 am EDT
Don't you like tentacles? They're so... slimy and intrusive.
shadowwolf Apr 28 2010, 07:24 am EDT
Square isn't too picky with what they publish it would seem, although I can't imagine that it is doing any good for their reputation. As for that Japanese rant Cheddar, for one the are a heavily repressed people by their own society, which makes them lash out where ever they can. Second is that that ultra-nationalism is not true for the majority that I have talked to, and all the people they know that live all over Japan. As far as I can tell, it's not true for a great many Japanese people.

The fact is Americans are more nationalistic than the Japanese, and the denial of the WW2 stuff is what the government does, but it does not necessarily reflect the feelings of its citizens. In fact I know a teacher who taught about WW2 in Japan and got a lot of students who just told him that "they wanted to know what really happened."

Also, there is an edit button you know, it's kind of sad when you respond to your own post :p.
  Cheddar: I didn't want to make my already long post any more s…
shadowwolf: Cheddar, post like this really make you sound like an…
shadowwolf: There is also something that you should consider, the…
Cheddar: Yeah, your type of generous and forgiving attitude re…
greenberet Apr 28 2010, 07:32 am EDT
Boring. Next.
Vodoo Apr 28 2010, 08:15 am EDT
truthfully speaking, everybody is a nationalist because of the animal instinct of belonging to a pack or territory.

many americans are ashamed to be americans (they're usually the smart ones who know Europe is a continent and Paris is not just a rich blonde girl).
just as im ashamed of my own country and others of theirs.

then again, we're not really talking about nationality here, we are talking about typical lack of desire for people to reach an IQ of at least 3 digits and sometimes i don't even think they manage after a life time of struggle.

nationality is just a label for someone who lives somewhere be he/she smart or stupid.
Cheddar Apr 28 2010, 10:59 am EDT
There's a big difference between nationalism, and ultra-nationalism.

I hope everyone here realizes that.

Anyway, just to be clear... I'm not saying the majority of Japanese are ultra-nationalistic (although I would say latent xenophobia is commonplace). However, a disturbingly large portion of the younger male demographics adhere to an ultra-nationalistic world-view. You can especially see it in their internet communities. It is, truly, a real problem over there.
  Myst: They aren't that different. Nationalism leads to ultr…
Cheddar: Obviously, but that's like saying sexual attraction l…
shadowwolf: It's a real problem in rural cities in the U.S. as we…
Cheddar: No, Shadowwolf. Ultra-nationalism is not a problem i…
parnakuma: lol latent xenophobia is a problem indeed
Un Om Bun [STAFF] Apr 28 2010, 11:29 am EDT
Ok, I feel compelled to add something to the discussion. The action starts at 0:30, but beware, it's disgusting and very very retarded.​feature=player_embedded#!

P.S. It's also quite gay.
  Vodoo: gay stuff from you ? that is just unheard of......…
Alchi: Properly nauseating stuff. BTW: do japs at least …
Un Om Bun: Nah, the spirituality of it all is reward enough.
Vodoo: riiiiiiiight.
Vader [STAFF] Apr 29 2010, 01:14 am EDT
Thanks for making me sick.
jodox Apr 29 2010, 03:22 pm EDT
sorry but you are not a suitable reviewer..
Cheddar Apr 29 2010, 07:10 pm EDT
Vader is hardly the first critic to pan this game.
Vader [STAFF] Apr 30 2010, 03:12 am EDT


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