N3II: Ninety-Nine Nights Xbox 360
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Q Entertainment
Few games can be summed up with a single word but N3II Ninety-Nine Nights could definitely be and that word would be ‘frustrating’. There are so many elements of it that leave you wondering why more care wasn’t taken with the game. There are many fans of the Dynasty Warriors style hack and slash game and the stale Dynasty Warriors series definitely needs a rival series to give it the kick in the pants it so desperately needs but after a promising start with Ninety-Nine Nights four years ago, this sequel suggests that this is one Dynasty Warriors rival that’s run its course already.
N3II is set in a fantasy kingdom, with the usual mix of elves, ogres and goblins, and as ever in these games there’s a stench of foreboding and doom in the air. The Lord of the Night appeared just over three months ago and with his Army of the Night has razed virtually everything to the ground. The path of destruction has led all the way to the borders of the sacred Orphea and complete doom seems imminent. Thankfully you’ll control Galen, a virtually invincible warrior, and it’s your job to chop down thousands and thousands of enemy soldiers. Actually, you won’t just play as Galen as there are four other characters, each with their own fighting style and storyline.
In the game’s various missions you’ll get to plough through hundreds and thousands of AI troops, whose intelligence is actually far from being impressive, before finally coming to the boss. The troops are easy to defeat and it’s about as challenging as swinging a scythe around in long grass. I say easy but there are times when you have to be careful not to let yourself get pinned to a wall or fall foul of awkward camera angles or be caught in a cycle of continuous knockdowns which can cause real problems. Of course you could simply avoid most of the enemies you’ll encounter. Whilst this is tempting, it’s not a very good idea because killing them earns you red orbs that you’ll collect and use for upgrading your character.
Fighting the basic enemies may be a cakewalk but that’s not to say there isn’t some seriously challenging gameplay here in N3II. Once you get to a boss fight the difficulty goes through the roof and you’ll find yourself redoing many of the boss battles in the game. At least you are dropped back to the beginning of a boss battle should you fail however. Prior to meeting the boss, checkpoints are few and far between which certainly makes the whole experience far more frustrating and tedious that it needs to be.
The single-player game is an exercise in frustration then and you’ll certainly feel like throwing your controller against the wall many times during the approximately twenty-hour campaign. If you can manage to avoid damaging your controller there’s a multiplayer game to experience too. Unfortunately, the online play isn’t going to keep you occupied for long. Over Xbox Live you and a friend can play through a variety of scenarios (the amount available depends on your progress in the game) and game types but it simply amounts to taking on waves of enemies. It just never feels like anything more other than tedious button bashing.
Graphically N3II isn’t anything special although it certainly appears to have improved somewhat on the graphics in the original game. That’s not to say it isn’t a decent looking game however and to be fair it would be silly to expect stunning looking graphics with the many enemies that are displayed on the screen at any one time. The game is gory and you’ll see a variety of mutilations with limbs being sliced off seemingly for fun in this game. However, whilst the limbs are flying and the blood is splattering it’s far from being the goriest game I’ve played.
N3II Ninety-Nine Nights is subtitled. The cut scene subtitles don’t feature any speaker’s name or portraits but the in-game dialogue does. At times these subtitles could do with staying on the screen a little longer however as they can disappear rather quickly at times and there were some that I didn’t have enough time to read. Comments made during the heat of battle are not subtitled however. Thankfully these are of no importance. Tutorial messages are delivered via text and the use of icons. Your mission objectives are shown in text with both defeat and victory objectives being given. The general direction of your objective and the location of enemies are shown on your mini-map.
N3II Ninety-Nine Nights should really be given a miss unless you’re crazy about mass combat action games and already own titles such as Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War and Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires. The game really doesn’t have any redeeming features that help to make up for the dull combat and poor storyline. Ninety-Nine Nights showed some promise but it has not been realised here and that’s very disappointing. Those looking for a quality action game, and not necessarily a mass combat action game, would do well to avoid this and opt for Konami’s latest, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow or if mass combat is what you’re after, one of the aforementioned games.