Friday, August 6, 2010

Nier on Xbox 360 Impression

Gotta hand it to Square Enix, they know how to create an engaging story. With Nier a father searches for a cure for his sick daughter in an apocalyptic future that, well it’s bleak folks. Make no mistake about this action role-playing game being in the same class as Kingdom Hearts. Where Kingdom Hearts, from Square Enix, nailed the gameplay and narrative on so many levels Nier sadly does not. Patience is needed to get to the creative story inside Nier, but what about the other parts, let’s take a look.

Gameplay – Assume the role of Nier as he searches for a cure to his daughter’s sickness in an apocalyptic future where man is reduced to fighting for survival while monsters, Shades, roam the land. Level up, hack-slash, fetch items and repeat to advance. It’s an action RPG driven by an engaging story that would be great in novel form. There are many quest to undertake and much leveling up to do but the repetitive environments can make this a drag. Expect lots of backtracking but with a story to drive it … just gotta get to the meaty parts.

Graphics – Don’t judge a book by its cover and in this case a game by its graphics. Nier does not look great, hell it’s not too far north of bad. The various movies released prior to launch show off an impressive Shade (bad monsters) battle that left huge hope for the overall game look but sadly no dice. The landscapes all run together and lack enough texture and detail. Ditto for the character models which is a shame since they are so unique. Nier just looks like a good first generation Xbox 360 title but knowing the breed and pedigree of Square Enix it could have been so much more.

Sound – Music is solid Square Enix fare with tranquil running around meadows tunes and action pack gotta-kill-em-all tunes. Square Enix does music right and Nier shines in this aspect. The voice acting is quite well done also with the Grimorie sounding arrogant and cocky while Nier is dark and moody when not around his daughter. The potty mouthed, shade possessed, lingerie wearing Kaine is a flipping trip but not for the young of ear. The music and voice work is excellent.

Design – Characters are great looking and unique but the Shades don’t vary too much. There are boss encounters that are pretty sweet but overall the design falls into the bland category as the graphics do. Some settings are very cool and immense but since gamers will be going back to them over and over not too much to get excited about hours into the game.

Miscellaneous – Story and characters save the day with Nier. While gameplay is repetitive, graphics this side north of fugly it’s the characters, their past and present, their voice acting that makes Nier worth playing.

Overall Nier is not great but it’s above average thanks to great voice work, a good soundtrack and characters that are as quirky as they are cool. There is some promise missed with Nier from graphics to the levels, design and number of quest to undertake but when even these items can be overlooked it’s a testament to the story underneath, something Square Enix knows how to do. Looking for a good time killer then give Nier a try but don’t expect a next-gen graphics beast that will blow you away with innovation. Solid but not spectacular.

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