Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Nier - Action RPG Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Nier has gotten some quite average reviews, Joystiq in particular had venom for this game with the reviewer giving up playing it rather than finish it for review.  I do not agree with Joystiq, or most of the other critics.  The game is very good, and yes, it does have some budget issues but it is a affecting game that pushes at the boundaries of emotions in videogames.

Nier takes place in a post Apocalyptic world.  But it takes place over 1000 years after Armageddon.  The land has regressed into a Medieval style with small villages, and City states.  You play as a Warrior whose daughter has a terminal disease called The Black Scrawl.  You roam the lands doing odd jobs, and fighting monsters in a bid to discover a cure for your daughters disease.  The Black Scrawl is what nearly eradicated Humanity in the Armageddon.  It is a disease that turns Humans into monstrous beings called Shades.  Quite early in the game you come across a magical intelligent book called Weiss.  Weiss reminds you of a legend that said the cure to the Black Scrawl could be found if you used the White Grimoire to collect Sealed Verses to defeat a Black Grimoire with.  With Weiss granting the hero the ability to use magic they set out to recover the lost Sealed Verses.  Along the way they team up with a shunned foul mouthed woman Kaine as well as a troubled boy magician called Emil.

The game at first seems very Zelda like.  It is an action adventure game that sees you as the Hero visiting various Towns and dungeons.  Unlike Zelda though you gain experience and level up that leads to more health and power.  There are lots and lots of weapons you can collect including spears and swords.  These can be upgraded also.  The game is very combat heavy with only one dungeon really offering anything in the way of puzzles.  One dungeon turns the game into a Diablo clone, while a whole set of dungeons takes the form of very well written basic text adventures!

There is lots to do other than fight.  The game features many many side quests that various villagers will ask you to do.  These range from defeating rare uber monsters to collecting items from around the world, as well as fishing.  Goats, Sheep, Deer and other animals roam the world and killing them releases useful items.  Plants and other materials also randomly litter the game world.  You get the ability to fish which while initially very frustrating due to incorrect instructions becomes quite fun.

The enemies are varied but mainly compose of similar looking shades.  Shades are semi transparent and look like creatures made up of abstract shimmering shapes.  The main types are humanoid men and children, but larger more monstrous enemies make appearances.  Bosses are really quite cool.  Robots, Monsters, Machines all appear as unique boss experiences.  The attack on your village by an invincible giant shade is a particular highlight.

The game has a wonderful story.  While at heart a simple tale of a man protecting his daughter the game presents you with situations that are just not black or white, and are quite affecting.  Characters die, main and secondary alike, there are twists and turns to the story, and nothing is clear cut.  One side quest ended with you having to make the choice whether to tell a dying old woman that her true love was dead and had been for 50 years, kept alive by the lies of the Towns Postmaster who had been fabricating letters in order to keep the woman un heartbroken.  There is lots of this type of situation abound which is helped by the wonderful soundtrack.

 The music is really amazing.  It creates a large sense of bleakness, and mournfulness that creates a sense that this is a world on the brink of extinction.  Nowhere does the game change this view.  When good things do happen you can be sure its not going to last.  Usually a cut scene later and something harrowing has occurred to screw up the lives of the characters even more.

The voice acting is very good, you really come to like the characters.  Weiss is a sarcastic book who is deeply patronising, his relationship with Kaine in particular is quite amusing.  Kaine herself is very foul mouthed, something which the game has been criticised for.  The reasons for her cussiness are revealed though, and she swears in context, rather than for the sake of it. My favourite line of hers was during a boss fight where she shouts at a gigantic monster 'I'm going to rip out your fu*king eye and p*ss in the socket!'.  The game is very self aware, Weiss constantly challenging Kaine's swearing, as well as taking the mickey out of the hero for accepting any side quest whatsoever (as does one side quest giver who says something along the lines of 'I heard your the guy who will do anything for people.  Well I want you to dance for me! Dance for me! Bwahahaha!').

I really don't understand all the indifference this game got.  It is very addictive, bloody, action packed, and deeply affecting.  It is quite cheap and I would really recommend people getting this game and giving it a go.  Keep in mind it is very Japanese in feeling.  Talking of Japan, the Japanese release of the game featured a younger Hero to appeal to their view of what a main character should be.

I know this review is not great, but to be honest I am suffering from a awful chest infection and everything hurts!


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