Ninety-Nine Nights Review
|Release Date:||August 25, 2006 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Russel Linn (Ralinn)|
|Buy now at Amazon.co.uk|
In Ninety-Nine Nights you'll take the role of 7 (one being a secret character) characters, all with unique weapons, techniques and fighting styles. You'll see the story unfold from each of their points of view and you'll even get to take on the role of the 'bad guys' which is quite rare these days. Just out of interest, N3 comes from Korean developer Phantagram Co. Ltd who are also responsible for games such as 'Kingdom Under Fire', 'Forgotten Saga' and Zyclunt (excuse my French).
We start off by taking the role of Inphyy, quite a confused and rather disturbing 17-year-old girl with the thirst for blood over the death of her father. Other characters will be unlocked as you make your way through each character one by one. Each character has roughly 1-2 hours of gameplay, depending on how you play the game of course. Although this sounds like a bad thing, it's actually not that bad as each character is action packed and the whole story is not revealed in one pass. You'll have to play the game through with every character in order to piece the story together and make any sense of it. Things can be quite repetitive but the fact that you only stay with one character for a short amount of time saves the game from getting too tedious. Each character does come with new moves, techniques and story, so you never really feel like you're doing the same thing over and over again. You'll also see new missions and environments with each new character as well.
As you may already know, the game made its name by the sheer amount of enemies and team soldiers on screen at once, I'm impressed with some of the stuff the Xbox 360 is actually capable of. The battles are fast, hectic and above all - fun (if you're a fan of hack and slash games). You'll be given a very wide range of techniques to dispose of everything in your path, from long combo's to devastating one hit moves that can clear a path through hordes of enemies, very groovy indeed.
What's easily noticeable about the combo's and techniques is the sheer amount of work that has gone into the animation of each character. All the moves in the game are great to look at, fluid and pretty much flawless. Unfortunately more work has gone into the battle system than the story or cut scenes; these are very simple and too short for my liking. Although this may not be a bad thing for people wanting to just get stuck in with the action, some of them are quite painful to watch due to issues with the camera shaking like mad and terrible voice acting, Innphyy in particular is cringe-worthy
Each character (minus one) has their own cinematic introduction which are generally quite impressive to look at and do get better with each character. You'll find that this is one of the things you'll look forward to when you just complete a character and are ready to start another. The games' story also slowly reveals itself as each character is completed though it never seems to get told fully, which left me completely confused until I found a secret mission that you simply aren't told about in any obvious way. To complete this mission you'll need to have a quite powerful character as the final boss is really tough and quite frankly there's no way I've found of actually beating it without having a particular technique. This was also not made clear, so I found myself fighting the boss over and over again without actually getting anywhere, very frustrating.
Graphically things are fine for a game that shows so much on screen at once, big kudos to the 360 on that front; it looks very pretty indeed on my 20" TFT. The characters are detailed and the environment is good, though can be a little bland in some missions. Of course, this game isn't really about the graphics, but the battles. The sheer size of them is the impressive thing, a particular mission in what's known as the flatlands blew me away. This mission crops in up each characters section of the story and only seems to get more impressive; If you've ever wanted to be involved in a battle like the ones shown in the Lord of the Rings movies, then you'll most likely love this.
Although I've mostly been raving about the battle system so far, it's by no means without its flaws. The most frustrating thing I've come across in this game has to be the boss fights. You seem unable to use most of your gained combo's on bosses at all, most of the time they do pretty much nothing; they don't even stun or daze a boss so you'll be mostly using your team mates as bait to distract the boss while you get the odd small combo in. Well, either that simplistic tactic or running in quickly, making one heavy attack and running off before repeating until the boss is dead. Unsurprisingly this takes quite a bit of time and really does get tedious. I've always thought of bosses as having to be hard yet a fun aspect of the game, unfortunately this is not the case here.
The combo system, when it works, seems to be very friendly, almost too friendly. You can link attacks too easily and therefore the combo counter tops up as much as you want. It would have been nice if the combo system actually forced you to use different combos to link together, but unfortunately the counter will keep going up and up even if you use the same small combo over and over. The counter breaking when you repeat the same combo would have been a good idea; this would make the combo system much more fun as you would have had to try to pull off bigger and bigger combinations of different and interesting moves. The counter will also not break if you take damage; it's all time based, if you leave it too long before hitting an enemy, the counter will reset. This game is most definitely a button masher.
I have to mention the soundtrack. It's some of the best game music I've heard and is definitely my favourite from my Xbox 360 library so far. It really does make those large battles that much better, especially the huge battles in the flatlands. As soon as I started up the game, I was treated to a fantastic track on the main menu which actually made me buy the soundtrack. This is purely an opinion of course but it's definitely been added to the shelf containing my all time favourite soundtracks. Yes, it's sitting there right next to Wander and the Colossus, Falcom, and the Metal Gear Solid OST. I won't mention the sound effects in any great detail, they are what you would expect for a game like this really, cheesy and arcade style and just there to add to the fun.
Quite a solid and fun game for the hack and slash fans out there although it can get quite tedious and repetitive at times. Quite an interesting story is somewhat spoilt by the games' strange flow, slowly revealing bits and pieces of the story will leave people confused. It really didn't work for me anyway. However, it's definitely a fun game that I'll most likely be coming back to at some point in order to find more items, level up characters and smack as many goblins in the face with sharp and blunt objects as possible.
Hack 'n slash fans only.
- Huge amounts of enemies on screen at once, which lead to awesome battles.
- Fantastic original soundtrack.
- Fun battle system.
- Great character animations.
- Nice graphics.
- Great cinematics introducing characters (though quite short).
Not so good stuff
- Frustrating boss fights.
- Repetitive in places.
- Awful voice acting.
- Weird story flow.
- Buggy camera in very simple cut scenes.
- Shortest ending cut scene I've ever seen in my life.
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