In a previous post, I have stated that I would post a Nier review and I am not one to break promises.
At first glance, the viewer of this game would immediately be turned off due to its low rendered quality of graphics compared to other high quality games such as Uncharted 2 but as he or she looks deeper into this game’s design of this atmospheric world, it is understood that Nier stands out among the others. The music, the world and the story all feel fresh and creative but what lets the game down is the fact that the game itself is lacking in polish. Swords and spears disappear into the ground. The characters chop from one hill to the next ledge like online lag in Modern Warfare 2 when the characters move from one place to the other. The most disappointing aspect of the game is the fact that the graphics could have been dramatically improved and weren’t implemented like its predecessor of 2010, Final Fantasy XIII. What was Square-Enix thinking when they released this straight after Final Fantasy XIII, one of the best looking games of 2010!? Despite this major setback, the design of the stylized blood strokes, characters and the world make up for this terrible mistake and create an amazing sinister atmosphere, not many games succeed in doing.
Nier takes place after the world’s apocalypse and even though it is unclear why the world seems it is taken back in time, it makes perfect sense as the story clears up this confusion. The main character, who is unnamed (let’s call him Chris), starts off in a desperate effort to save his daughter from a disease called the Black Scrawl. After hearing about a book that can save his daughter from the tragic fate of death, he scowers towards the fittingly named “Lost Temple.” When he found the lost book, Grimoire Weiss, he is surprised to hear the book talking. From there, he learns of a legendary tale of two books fighting over the powers of the Versed Seals. Even though the story sounds as basic as the usual old role-play on a forum, it has its moments with great voice acting and a constantly changing plot-line. Many have stated that the plot-line is convoluted but I disagree. Firstly, the plot is explained thoroughly and after finishing the game, it is almost crystal clear with a couple of plot holes to keep you wanting to beat the game again so the player can fully understand what’s going on. I like this feeling of wanting to beat a game again because after almost 40 hours, it still feels fresh with new voice acting and cut-scenes including telling the other side of the story. Also during your second play-through, you start to fully understand the antagonists of the game, the Shades. Without spoiling the story, the Shades are the creatures who have been causing chaos throughout Earth in 3300AD. Not much is known about the Shades except the threat of them attacking mankind. I cannot explain the story in further detail due to the fact that I would be spoiling it if you knew the main jest. So what’s the verdict on the story? It is told very well with the help of great voice actors, dramatic changes of events and the excellently thought out script which can turn some heartstrings and make some people laugh out loud.
This game really shines when it comes to the game-play thanks to its various enjoyable boss battles, side quests and abilities. The bosses are fleshed out extraordinary well and even though the Shades are not diverse in combat or strategy, it is always fun to slay them with the short-sword, long-sword, spear or a devastating spell. Something to keep in mind, however, is that the player gains new spells in the first half of the game with only the short-sword available and then in the second half of the game, the player obtains the new weapons other than the short-sword but will not gain any new spells. The game works well with this formula of progressing because this had a great deal to do with the story. It would have been nice to have more spells on the other hand. The boss battles are the main reason someone should pick up this game because they are fast, action packed and during the battle, the characters who fight alongside you sometimes dictate what happens in the fight, adding an element of interaction with the story; this is a story driven game after all. In addition to that, there are a significant few instances of repeating lines of dialogue, if any in comparison to other hack and slash games. Many hack and slash games as well have an element of repetitiveness, which is true in some aspects of Nier but what makes this stand out are the uses of magic and several different weapons to manipulate. There are several tasks to do as well after you beat the game including side quests, collecting weapons, upgrading weapons and fulfilling trophies or achievements. Overall, the game play feels solid and interesting enough to keep you going for a 40 hour play-through.
The music is by far the substantial positive about Nier with the soundtrack revolving around the theme of the game, Ashes of Dreams. It is a remarkable soundtrack as the thunderous drums roll in the background or the tender sound of the violins sounding among a choir or a beautiful voice speaking a fictitious language. It has its own style and this was a nominee in GameSpot’s Original Music category for their Game of the Year Awards of 2010. The melancholy and upbeat songs from the soundtrack also compliment the mood perfectly and Classic Game Room’s review of the music is entirely wrong as he tells his viewers that “the music definitely needs more variety” when there is a drastic change in tone as you travel from town to town and different stages of the story. Nier has a masterful sound from Takafumi Nishimura and major reviewers such as IGN stated that “the score […] is actually one of the more memorable and interesting in recent memory.”
Nier is one of those games, people should not miss thanks to its spectacular story and creative design but with the release of Final Fantasy XIII being only one month earlier to its release, Nier was overlooked and disregarded because of its lack of polish. You could say “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” Hopefully a sequel will be created so this aspiring series could match up to the great J-RPGs of previous times.
Clements, R. (2010, May 11). Nier Review. Retrieved January 20, 2011, from IGN: http://ps3.ign.com/articles/108/1088798p1.html Room, C. G. (2010). Classic Game Room HD – NIER review . InecomCompany. Teague, C. (2010, May 5). PS3 Review- Nier. Retrieved January 20, 2011, from Playstation Lifestyle: http://playstationlifestyle.net/2010/05/05/ps3-review-nier/ Review: Nier DualShockers. (2010, June 18th). Retrieved June 4th, 2011, from DualShockers: http://www.dualshockers.com/2010/06/18/nier-review/