|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Cavia||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 27, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Unfortunately, that's about everything redeeming that Nier brings to the table. As interesting as a few of the bosses are, they are matched by an equal number of pushovers that simply don't live up to the term 'Boss Fight.' This is also true of dungeon exploration. While some puzzle elements are a great way to massage your little grey cells, most others simply make the level last artificially longer than it really should. Nier wishes it had the puzzling chops of Zelda, but it just never comes close to reaching those lofty heights.
Along those lines, world and dungeon design is mostly pathetic. Not only are players constantly confined by walls, corridors, and gaps in the infrastructure, they'll also be inhibited by sheer cliffs, impenetrable forests, and static bodies of water that will actually leave them unconscious if they wade out too far. In other words, players are wholly confined to a set path whilst in dungeons, and they have very little real estate to explore out in the wider world. This linear approach makes it easy to find and grind your way through the game, but it also makes for unsatisfying, tedious bouts of play.
Even worse, the side quests in Nier are about as bad and meaningless as those from the worst RPGs from yesteryear. Taking quests from various towns' people will have you collecting herbs, playing postman, even going on an egg hunt. You'll be going back and forth between discovered zones looking for all manner of objects, none of which really impact the main storyline. The most you can hope for is to be compensated for your errand boy tasks with gold. Disappointingly, the monetary rewards are often mediocre, meaning you'll be forced to take on loads of these side quests just to raise enough money to purchase some of the better weapons and items needed to progress through the main story. Really, all these side quests do is pad the length of Nier so that it feels more like an RPG and less like an action adventure.
Ironically, there is no true leveling mechanic in Nier, however. So the game is hardly a true RPG. Players will see that their character does receive experience and will level up, but they have no control over how he grows. In this way, Nier feels very much like an action title, though it certainly doesn't have as much diversity of character growth as the best examples of the genre do.
Additionally, the combat in Nier is quite weak. That's because it is essentially a button-mash hack and slash, punctuated by magical abilities. No matter how strong the protagonist gets, you'll never unlock interesting combos. All you'll have to do is tap buttons or hold for charged attacks and let the animations render. Further contributing to the dull combat are the umpteen, regenerating Shades. These minions are faceless obstacles that serve little purpose other than slowing down your progression. Sure, some carry shields, some attack in groups, some even wield magic, but none of them is particularly satisfying to kill.
In fact, there are several other annoying bits in Nier. For starters, rummaging in the dirt for material collection is completely unnecessary and wastes a lot of time, as is fishing and harvesting. Also, the ridiculous, foul-mouthed companion you'll meet early on, Kaine, is a poorly constructed character. Finally, the visuals in the game are not up to snuff. In addition to confined level design, the towns, dungeons, and wilderness areas are stark and unpolished. In many ways, this game looks like a high-def PS2 title.
Nier is a game that will undoubtedly appeal to a handful of RPG enthusiasts because of the interesting story that is told. But, for almost everyone else, this is a slapdash effort that fails to make good on its promise and falls into a pit full of worn-out RPG conventions.
CCC Editor / News Director