by Bane Williams
reviewed on X360
The Long Night
When the original Ninety Nine Nights hit the shelves over 4 years ago it was met with mixed reviews. The gameplay was simple, there wasn’t much variety, and anything that could potentially make the game unique was simply borrowed from other games in the genre. With that in mind, I was not expecting much when Ninety Nine Nights II arrived on my desk; however, I was about to be pleasantly surprised.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Ninety Nine Nights formula let me break it down for you. You control a character in third person that faces thousands and thousands of enemies, leaving behind naught but a trail of blood and destruction on a fantasy landscape. Your character is, for the most part, obscenely powerful in comparison to the enemies he or she faces, though often strategy must be employed in order to keep your health high.
The games story revolves around a grandiose battle between the forces of good and evil. With evil poised to strike a crushing, final blow to the last bastion of good a powerful stranger appears with the straightforward and simple goal of destroying the Lord of Darkness. While that might be the core game concept, many other characters are unlocked during the story, each with his or her own goals, ideals, and missions.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
N3II: Ninety-Nine Nights has a lot to love for gamers. There’s a decently written (if predictable) storyline, a generous amount of voice acting that for the most part won’t grate on your nerves and graphics that, while dark, are at the same time visually decadent. Even the soundtrack shows that a lot of love has been put into the game, and while it is not as technically amazing as the likes of the Castlevania series, it gets the job done.
But the true beauty of the game can be easily overlooked by the inattentive. Enemies are generally not positioned randomly, but where they would strategically make sense. Archers are often found overlooking the battlefield from a high vantage point, and in one particular instance I was ambushed by a three tier setup with heavily armored troops at the front, cavalry ready to bull rush, and archers firing over the top in the rear.
Combat is a very simple and fluid affair with the usual light attack and heavy attack button that can be chained into impressive combinations. Various abilities and skills that are unlocked on the way will bolster your fighting capabilities, and you can have up to 4 active at any one time. The skills are extremely powerful, often capable of completely destroying large numbers of foes at once. They all run on their own cooldowns, so you can even chain skill attacks together, which is particularly useful against those annoying bosses.
It’s extremely easy to overlook your own mortality within the game, but players who do will find themselves punished by levels of a brutal length. Almost every single level had me playing for a good hour, and in a land of similar games having missions that can be completed in less than 5 minutes, this is a godsend. It also leads to players having to make strategic choices in every skirmish, as a careless player may find himself having to complete several portions of a level with only a sliver of health.
Many Unique twists on an old genre, rewarding combat.
Missions very same-y, platforming extremely frustrating.