by Ryan Cope
reviewed on X360
Relationships, Storytelling, Side Quests and Money! (cntd)
The way the story is told is pretty linear. You have a main objective and you go and do it. This will involve you travelling from one place to the next to progress the narrative. At times things will change from the average killing, travelling and talking style by switching to a mode where you have to read long passages of text, like a book. This definitely mixes things up a bit and is similar to the wonderfully written story segments in Lost Odyssey, but doesn’t quite live up to it.
There are many side quests available that will keep you occupied beyond the main story. Nier likes to help around the village and after you complete a major plot point, more side quests will open up. These side quests can be fun at first, but they quickly become repetitive and you will find that you will spend most of your time travelling to one place, talking to someone and then going all the way back to the start. Travelling is mostly done on foot, unless you complete a certain quest that allows you to ride wild boars at breakneck speed. There are A LOT of gathering side quests too, that require you to mindlessly grind for hours in order to get rare items.
Even though they may quickly become dull, each quest rewards you with money and that is something that you will need. “Money makes the world go round!” In Nier you need money to buy weapons, healing items, stat boosts and other miscellaneous objects that will help you along your way. There are shops in the three major villages where you can buy almost anything. In one location known as the “Junk Heap” you can upgrade the weapons you buy or find, but you need to gather all the parts necessary and pay a small fee. Improving your weapons will make them stronger and more effective in battle.
Swordplay, Magical Powers, Customisation and Epic Bosses
Nier’s combat system follows its overall plan to mix things up. For the first half of the game you will only have access to a sword, but after a plot turning point you will be able to use heavy swords and spears as well. You can always switch between the three types during gameplay by tapping the directional button, allowing for a smooth transition while in combat. The blade slashing fighting itself is rather limited however, with one button as the only way to physically attack. By repeatedly tapping the button you create combos. It feels a bit tedious and you don’t get the same satisfaction as you would from a game like God of War. What does make the combat unique is the use of magical spells from Weiss.
With each powerful shade that you kill, you unlock more spells. You start out with a basic magic blast, but can obtain moves such as Dark Hand, where you pulverise your enemies with a giant fist, or Dark Lance, which allows you to hurl huge spears. Your weapons and magic powers can be customised through the use of “Words”. The more normal shades you kill, the more “Words” you unlock. These words can then be attached to your weapons or spells in order to give you bonuses, such as added attack power or extra experience points. The combination of this power modification and the ability to select your own style of magic powers (you can only use two different types at one time) makes Nier unique, allowing you to adjust to your preferred play style.
The boss battles in Nier are large and epic, varying from a large shadow wolf, to an enormous sentinel made out of blocks and a colossal slivery shade. Each boss battle is different; every boss has a weak spot and some form of strategy to defeat it. Some are memorable and will stick in your mind after you have fought them across stunning landscapes. While the scenery looks remarkable, the graphics aren’t quite top of the line. Sometimes they are smooth and stark but other times they are a letdown in cut-scenes.
Nothing is better than smashing a gigantic fist into a huge lizard and watch it crash into a cliff face as angelic chanting accompanies the scene. Nier’s soundtrack is phenomenal. It is beautiful and coexists perfectly with the story and gameplay. A mixture of choir and classical music made especially for the game, the soundtrack is a perfect assistant in creating drama, anticipation and adrenaline.
Beautifully intricate story, with some fresh ideas and a stunning soundtrack.
Combat needs to be improved, story can get confusing and there may be too much variety for some.