by Ryan Cope
reviewed on X360
All Those Little Bits
When you’re not fighting evil shades or running around aimlessly completing countless side quests, there are other things that you can do to occupy yourself. Scavenging for items in the wild or villages is one pass time. As you walk around areas you will often see small shinny lights scattered on the floor. You can walk over to them and collect whatever is there. This varies from healing herbs to clay or even iron ore. When you leave an area and re-enter the collectables will have reset, giving you unlimited but common items to continuously collect.
Other activities include gardening and fishing, which become open to you after you have reached a certain point early on in the game. You can buy seeds from the garden shops in villages or find them in during the course of your adventure. Once you have some seeds, you can plant them, water them and leave them for a few missions until they’ve fully grown, at which point you can harvest them for their lovely produce. You can either use the harvested materials for quests in which they are needed or sell them on for some extra cash.
Fishing is pretty much the same, however you don’t have to wait a few missions to get your fish. Once you have obtained a rod and one of many lures, you can go to any shoreline or riverbank and start fishing. The mini game is easy to play; you simply have to pull the rod in the opposite direction that the fish is swimming in. Once you catch a fish you can use it as bait to catch another, use it in a side quest or sell it for money.
Another new twist that Nier brings is the use of its camera angles. Normally you will play in third-person with a free control camera, but whenever you enter a building the camera will change to a side view through the wall, like the old 2D Mario or Metroid games. At other times, when entering certain rooms or locations, the camera will switch to a birds eye view as you slice through enemies and shoot magical blasts at them in a style similar to arcade games like Asteroid. This is where the design choice can be questioned. Is there need to suddenly change from a third-person free control camera to a restricted view? It certainly jumbles up the gameplay even more and adds something else to the mix. This is a decision that some will find annoying and unnecessary while others will find a novelty – adding to the individuality of Nier.
While trying to be its own original and distinctive game with a combination of different gameplay aspects, Nier seems to derive a lot of these features from various sources. JRPGs, hack and slashes, action adventures and arcade games. There is even a heavy hint to The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. Many moments feel quite familiar, a village/town in the middle of the map that you operate and travel from, the quest for certain items during the first half of the game, then the time lapse and search for a different set of items in the second half. There is even a moment where a boy finds a mask and lifts it up into the air with a triumphant sound effect as it floats in his palm, which has Link written all over it.
This is not necessary a bad thing. To say that Nier has stolen ideas from other games is completely getting the wrong end of the stick about this statement. Nier pays homage to an assortment of games and genres that are loved by many. Adapting it in such a way that brings all of these fun elements together is a bold move that will be met with unfortunate animosity. To give up on Nier and what it has to offer is a dishonour to all the great elements that make it what it is. Yes it has its failures, but there is also something that has been tried here which has not been tried before; a hybrid of many different gameplay styles. Yes there is room for improvement and some areas such as combat could be a little more flushed out.
Overall Nier is a wonderful tale with mature elements that focuses on human emotions and relationships. With an amazing soundtrack, an intense and clever story and a mix match of gameplay that goes boldly where no game has gone before, Nier will hopefully be the start of a new future for JRPGs.
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.