Title: You found a purple Rupee!
Posted: February 03, 2009 (10:21 PM)
But it won't fit in your wallet now, so let's put it back.
I hate to bring out the old “jack of all trades, master of none” cliché, but look at this thing: Nier regularly pulls from at least four different genres, and I have no reason to believe that this approach could work (and probably has before). I guess the mindset behind making a game like Nier is that it’s excusable for the combat to be simplistic, the platforming to be clunky, the RPG elements to be shallow and the dungeons to be a bore if all of these individual elements are a fraction of the entire picture. But, as you and I know, it doesn’t work that way.
I don’t want to insult Cavia by suggesting that they’re incompetent at everything. I’m willing to bet that they were simply operating under heavy restraints, such as tiny budget. It would explain why so much of Nier feels needlessly padded out with fetch quests and repetition, and it would certainly explain why an entire chunk of the main adventure was obviously tossed and represented by ten or fifteen minutes of white text on black screen, in which the player’s entire contribution is to decipher a handful of riddles that practically solve themselves.
Nier is kind of a mess like that, and when taken out of context, nearly any individual aspect would lead you to believe that the folks at Cavia should get out of the business. First and foremost, the game is bone ass ugly. The character models look decent, I guess, and the enormous boss monsters are rendered with enough detail to make their size feasible, but I’ve seen Wii games that put Nier’s textures, particles and animation to shame. Your main enemies, the Shades, are just these featureless yellow blobs that walk on what vaguely resemble legs and attack with what vaguely resemble arms; they look like the product of an artist who didn’t want to make the effort of creating a real character design.
Other, more important elements feel similarly lazy. At times, Nier is combat-intensive, yet its swordplay is limited to a single button. Nier even teases us with the possibility of “combos,” only to reveal a combo can be executed by hitting the one attack button repeatedly. The RPG elements are barely even there, and the possibilities of throwing a variety of magical spells into the heat of battle are hampered by the unintuitive system of editing your two hotkeys, which requires you navigate through several sub-menus. Even then, very few of your abilities are worth the effort, as you’ll mostly stick to the simple projectile attacks and engage in uninspired shootouts with enemies who apparently draw from the same spell book.
The game’s central design principle was obviously heavily inspired by the Zelda formula, in which a single overworld is punctuated by towns and (more notably) dungeons. Mixing that sort of thing with RPG elements and intense, bloody combat sounds like a good time – Darksiders did something similar earlier this year, and came out relatively successful – but Nier falls short on both fronts, delivering a bland, empty overworld that comes off as a half-baked attempt to make the game seem “bigger,” and dungeons that rarely feel like more than succession of rooms in which you cut down enemies one after the other by mashing on the X button.
I could go on like this for ages, listing the multitude of things Nier attempts and picking apart the ways in which Cavia’s reach exceeded its grasp. Basically, take nearly any standalone idea in Nier’s core design, try to build an entire game around it, and
Certain parts of the game even bewilderingly borrow elements from shmups, with Nier and his enemies exchanging streams of energy-based projectiles. By far Nier’s most memorable
Kainé adopts the look of one cliché (the scantily clad leading lady) and the persona of another (the outcast with an attitude), and she needs to be given the opportunity to overcome the relatively low expectations we hold for her. She eventually does, but Cavia asks far too much of its players to get to that point.
Every glimmer of promise suffers from an unfortunate side effect, while every flaw feels at least partially redeemed. You'd think the game's presentation would be appalling what with the visuals being so hideous, for example, but Nier bounces right back with an exceptional soundtrack and some of the best voice work in recent memory. The guy who plays Grimoire Weiss sounds like he's channeling Alan Rickman, and personality of that magnitude is the sort of thing that saves something like Nier from being completely forgettable.
It’s easy to say that Cavia bit off more than they could chew here, but I fully believe that a game like Nier could work given the right level of attention. But while I could speculate all day over the causes of the game’s failure – time constraints, budgetary restrictions, lack of motivation or simple incompetence – it’s a failure nonetheless. Nier attempts more than it can handle and collapses under its own weight, and it’s a game I can recommend either at bargain price or not at all.
Posted: February 03, 2009 (10:57 PM)
Welcome back, Suskie! =D
Though, I honestly can't tell if this is just a random Zelda reference or some strange metaphor for something that I don't really understand just yet.
Posted: February 04, 2009 (01:23 AM)
I'm so glad Suskie is back.
Posted: February 04, 2009 (10:42 AM)
Those Zelda wallets were bizarre indications about how the laws of physics don't work in Hyrule or any other world Link ended up at.
Okay, I can only hold 500 rupees. It can be 500 1-rupee coins or 5 100-rupee coins. Apparantly those five coins take up as much room as those other 500 coins. Mystifying. They all look to be the same size on the screen whenever he knocks one out of a small octopus or some other creature. I mean, why couldn't like simply take a 1-rupee coin out of his wallet and replace it with the Purple one?
Maybe Link's just really stupid and doesn't understand the concept of banking.....
Posted: February 04, 2009 (01:45 PM)
Link would not have this problem if Hyrule would just use fiat currency.
edit - cheetos