|Suare Enix: Because Namco Bandai won't port Tales of Vesperia||!|
Gamespot gave this game 5/10, because they're idiots; IGN gave it 7/10 because they're idiots that live in some fantasy world where "Low budget, high concept" means "Should look like Modern Warfare 2."
Square Enix certainly didn't help matters by releasing this directly in the shadow of it's Final Fantasy XIII gargantuasaur, in effect begging reviewers for direct comparisons to arguably the most overrated franchise in video gamery (the other half of the argument being every Nintendo character.)
I'll start right now by saying that, even with it's shortcomings, this is one of the best action RPGs this generation. Of course, there are only like four action RPGs on the market right now, but I stand by it.
As I said in my Sacred 2 review: FPS games are a blight on console gaming that have turned America into a nation of entitled whingy bitches. Role-playing games aren't about graphics. Or shouldn't be. Pretty pictures are a bonus, not mandatory. That being said, there's nothing wrong with the graphics. The bad guys (snicker,) get somewhat repetitive, as do the dungeons, but this is very obviously a budget issue, not a lazy developer looking for a quick cash-in issue. The village, named The Village, looks like a village, the seaport, named The Seaport, looks like a seaport. There isn't a whole lot of world to explore, but what world there is is well developed and believable. The boss monsters are epic, the cut-scenes engaging. The only complaint from me, graphically, is the characters getting fuzzy in extreme closeups.
|Alleged shitty graphics|
I may have just realized that the negative reviews were written by a bunch of pervs trying to look down (lingerie-clad party member and other,) Kaine's top. Ha!
If any game needed spoiler alerts it's this one. I'll openly admit I cried repeatedly during this game. Then after the first ending I, look, just play the game.
Short story is this: unyielding protagonist and old guy Nier fights to find a cure for his daughter's fatal illness in a dying world. He is aided in his struggles by Grimoire Weiss, a sentient book and *SPOILER*, as well as potty mouthed *SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER* Kaine and *SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER* Emil.
I'm not clear on the details, but I think the Japanese version came with a companion book called Grimoire Nier that adds a lot of details to the already detailed story. In true internet awesomeness there is already a fan translation online here:
Do NOT click on that link if you haven't played through ending D and also don't click on it if you aren't comfortable with your own sexuality. Especially if you were one of the suckers trying to look down Kaine's top.
|Pretty sexy, right?|
The main story is split into two halves, and after finishing the game, returns to the start of the second half with new content unlocked and the difficulty hiked considerably. It does this through 4 endings, the fourth of which can only be unlocked by completing a certain requirement. After the fourth ending I had no desire to play through it again. This is not a complaint, as the game will take 15-30 hours to play through once depending on side quests and how much grinding you enjoy.
The gameplay is diverse enough to stay interesting throughout, although I will admit that by the third playthrough I was just spamming the jump slam attack and Dark Hand (one of the spells,) for most of the mobs. For the obsessive types (Hi! We're alike!) there are a lot of words to collect which act as modifiers, increasing damage, defense, experience gain, etc. as well as 30 or so weapons to be collected and modified. There are a LOT of side quests. Unfortunately, given the size of the world these stop being interesting fairly quickly as they almost all revolve around running between the same 5 or 6 areas to fetch things. It does do something I think should be against the law in video games like this, which is making the mini-games mandatory. The fishing mini-game isn't bad once you realize that the in-game tutorial is full of shit. Which is odd given the stellar quality of writing everywhere else, and the farming mini-game is great for coming up with quick money once you realize that the harvest cycle is tied directly to the Playstation's system clock.
|Most of the bad guys are this. BUT FOR A REASON!|
As I said before, the combat system is fun and diverse. Initially I wondered about the lack of auto-target, but after playing for a while realized that this added to the challenge and kept me from just sitting back and mashing the attack buttons until bad guys weren't.
One of the interesting gameplay mechanics was the decision to pay homage (rip off,) other game styles. The camera would occasionally switch to overhead hack n' slash, then side scrolling platformer, then bullet hell, then over the shoulder, then text-based adventure. Most of the people I know don't even know what that last one is, but some of the last games I enjoyed playing on a computer were the Zork games for DOS.
The game works. Which is more than I can say for a lot of the recent RPGs that seem to treat customers as unpaid beta testers. Nier does a lot of things well, but nothing exceptionally well gameplay-wise.
|Serious motherfucker right there.|
Sound/voice acting: 10/10
The soundtrack is superb. I say that as a semi-professional music nerd. This is what the game says music will be a thousand years after the end of the world and I believe it. I've never bought a video game soundtrack, because I don't want to be That Guy, but if I did it would be this one.
The voice acting, like everything else in this game, is great, but not what you'd expect. Every actor delivered. Whether it be an experience like watching a child waste away from illness, or a loved one consumed by madness, or light-hearted banter between traveling companions, everything sold. Also: Kaine cusses better than I do.
Overall this game is worth it. It doesn't suffer from most of the things that make some RPGs suck, whether it's Oblivion's lack of direction, or Eternal Sonata's linearity, or Valkyria Chronicles ENDLESS GODDAMN CHEERY FUCKING RPG KIDS! It doesn't hold your hand and explain everything like Fallout 3, but it doesn't throw you to the wolves like Demon's Souls. Everything about this game is different without being alien. Everything seems slightly surreal and washed out, yet there is a reason for it and I can't tell you why because *SPOILER*
Bottom line is this: if this game had come out on Playstation 2 it would have been one of the defining games of the generation. If a bunch of spoiled, chickenshit reviewers can't appreciate innovation, characterization and storytelling in a genre that thrives off of innovation, characterization and storytelling they should go back to their hi-res shooty games and stay safe until a soulless, one-eyed, lunatic demon screaming about his daughter kicks in the door and cuts their man-tits off. (spoiler alert.)