I just read through the review and I agree with everything you said. It's a sad day indeed when these so-called "reviewers" are so superficial that anything with shiny colours gets a 9+ in score. I imagine it's more complicated then that (what isn't?) but it's no excuse.
Regardless, and you'll excuse me if I have said this before (I simply cannot remember), Nier has to be one of the greatest games I've played. Fetch-quests aside, it was fantastic. And unlike you, I mostly used spears and two-handed swords when dealing with crowds. I must admit that when I read that Cavia were changing the protagonist into a more westernized character I was quite angry. But honestly after playing through the game I must admit it was a stroke of genius. After all, how many games focus on the relationship between a father and his daughter? In addition to that making the character look like this, old, worn-down man trying to save his daughter even to the point of neglect, it made it so much more real. The main character became a much more unique character if you will.
Dunno, I loved it.