Video Game Review: Nier

Nier box art

Oh, Cavia. What are we going to do with you?

I mean, first you make Drakengard, a game so bizarre that even a detailed (and humorous) Let’s Play has difficulty deciphering what the heck is going on. Then you decide to make an even weirder game based on the most mind-bending ending of Drakengard? Do you just hate making sense?


Alright, I guess I’ll just take this from the top. It’ll be easier that way.

Nier, in a nutshell, is a third-person action RPG with bullet-hell elements. Yes, you read that right. Bullet-hell elements. Early on in the game, Nier (our hero) picks up a talking book named Grimoire Weiss, who gives him the ability to use magic. The two spells you start out with—Dark Lance and Dark Blast—let you summon lances to shoot at enemies and fire a steady stream of magic “bullets” that looks suspiciously like the ones used in Touhou games. Oh, and the bosses, mini-bosses and some normal enemies fire bullet patterns that you have to dodge, block or negate with magic attacks.

So yes, the combat is a strange mix, but it’s also the best part of the game.

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Video Game Review: Brutal Legend

Tim Schafer, founder of Double Fine Productions and designer of Brutal Legend, is one of the very few people in the industry who could say his resume doesn’t include a single bad game. Unfortunately, those games–particularly Grim Fandango and Psychonauts–are notorious for not selling well. With Brutal Legend, Schafer seemed to be consciously trying to break that tradition. He got a big name voice cast, including Jack Black, Tim Curry, and metal legends Ozzy Osbourn, Lita Ford, Lemmy Kilmister and Rob Halford. He licensed 108 heavy metal tunes for the soundtrack.  And as the game neared release, he and EA proceeded to market the hell out of it with comedic Jack Black ads, several gameplay videos narrated by Schafer and other, less conventional, promos. Of course, the question is whether it’s worth all the promotion. And if you’re okay with the game not being quite like what was advertised, then the answer is yes.
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Bayonetta Demo Impressions

Unlike a lot of the gaming press I’ve been reading, I viewed Bayonetta with a large dose of skepticism. Sure, it was from Hideki Kamiya, the guy behind Okami, Viewtiful Joe and the first Devil May Cry. That’s a darn good pedigree. However, any game that goes to great lengths to emphasize the sass and sexiness of its female protagonist (Hello, Bloodrayne!) makes me suspect their motives. Yeah, they might just be really proud of their character design; but more often than not, the development team is just trying to distract players from the game’s shortcomings by saying, “Hey, look over there! Boobs!” I suspected this was going to be the case with Bayonetta and went into the demo fully expecting it  to be a carbon copy of Devil May Cry 4 with Dante and Nero replaced by a sexy witch. I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Mostly.

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Video Game Review: Red Faction Guerrilla

Stop! Hammer Time!

Nothing good ever happens on Mars. It always seems to be Earth’s whipping boy, so you have to wonder why anyone would willingly go there. It’s covered with sand and rocks, it’s colder than Earth, the entire place has an red-ish orange hue (except of the ice caps, obviously) and–according to Wikipedia–it has the largest dust storms in the solar system. How could Mars possibly be more fun than Earth?

Well, if it’s anything like Red Faction: Guerrilla, you can destroy every vehicle and structure in sight with a hammer, explosives and a good deal of reckless abandon. That’s a pretty compelling reason.

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Black Rock Shooter and Project Diva Trailers Released

The first trailer for the Hatsune Miku / Studio Ordet collaboration Black Rock Shooter has been posted on YouTube… and it looks AWESOME.

As you may recall from one of our previous posts, Black Rock Shooter is an anime project being developed by Yutaka Yamamoto’s Studio Ordet, and is based on the popular Hatsune Miku song of the same name. It is currently slated for a Spring 2010 release. The project will be directed by Shinobu Yoshioka, an episode director from Haruhi, Lucky Star and Kannagi, as well as one of the many Kyoto Animation employees who left the company in 2007 and joined Ordet.

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