posted 6/22/2010 by Matt Mirkovich
other articles by Matt Mirkovich
One Page Platforms: 360
To make matters worse a lot of these rare drops are used as well in the quest system that the game employs. There is a lot of time wasted on trying to collect materials for various odd jobs and quests for minimal gains and the game does a piss-poor job of explaining or telling you how or where to get the goods for your quests. To further the frustration, the people who give out quests are only identified by a thought bubble over their head, and after the quest has been accepted the bubble disappears, so hopefully you remembered who gave you the job in the first place. After a while I was quite burnt out on the quests when they became a hunt for items sold by various shops across the entire game world with no proper way to get from town to town quickly. And is it all worth it? The answer is a 'meh, not really' since the reward is typically cash which you can get by selling drops from enemies. Later quests will have some of the rare items that can be used to power up weapons provided you are willing to put up with obscure clues to finish them.
Traveling through the game world is quite the pain in the ass. A trip from any one town to another isn't terribly long provided you don't get ambushed by enemies, but the game likes to think that you actually enjoy the combat so it will constantly throw enemies at you. And sometimes they aren't normal enemies, but rather large ones that have way more hit points than you can possibly deal in a reasonable amount of time. After a while you unlock a boatman who will take you to various points on the world map, but some of them are kind of useless and only take you about halfway to where you want to go. You can also complete a quest that will allow you to ride a boar out in the world, but it's quite slow and handles very poorly leaving me wondering why it was even put in to begin with.

I've hesitated about speaking on this topic, but I'd like to discuss the story of Nier. I've got to say I really enjoyed it despite it being very short on information until close to the end, and even then it got a little unwieldy and lacking in explanation. The basis of the story is that Nier has a daughter and she suffers from what is known as 'The Black Scrawl' which causes illness that will eventually take her life. The odd thing is that this appears to be a repeat of events that took place hundreds of years prior, and since then the world has fallen in to a state of decay and humans are on the verge of extinction while ghostly enemies known as 'shades' roam around killing anyone unfortunate enough to cross their paths. Along the way you are joined by Kaine, a foulmouthed female who is possessed by a shade that grants her immense power and will someday take over her body. And to round out the cast there is Emil, a young man who's power to petrify people has turned him in to a bit of a shut in. This party, along with Grimoire Weiss, must find the source of the shades and destroy them before they finish off what's left of a lingering human presence. After completing the game you are given the option to go over some back-story for the other characters and you learn a bit more about them, like Kaine's younger years where she suffered the taunts of children in her village and how she came to be possessed by a shade.
After finishing Nier I was happy that I completed it. The father and daughter story was compelling to me, especially after playing something like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. I felt invested in the characters and I was willing to put up with the weak gameplay just to see it through to the end, especially when missions for Nier's daughter were to collect food ingredients so she could learn to cook for her father. But I don't know if the ends justify the means in this case. There are better gameplay experiences out there, and the story is something you have to dig quite deep in the mucky gameplay to get a hold of. It felt like Cavia tried to do a lot of different things with this title and nothing really came up as a standout feature. It's a shame too, maybe a few more months of time spent working on the graphics and rounding out the gameplay so that each mechanic was in better shape would have done this game some good. As it stands right now Nier comes off as a typically average title. Perhaps a sequel with some extra development time will give me something more to praise.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

Nier has a lot of interesting aspects to it, but none of them come together to make a cohesive experience. It feels like they are all fighting amongst each other and the product as a whole suffers for it. It will take a lot of dedication to get through this title.

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