N3: Ninety-Nine Nights (360)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Graphics: 7.50
Sound: 9.00
Gameplay: 8.00
Replays: 6.00
Gamelength: 7.00

In the light of Dynasty Warriors, creator of Lumines and Rez, Tetsuya Mizuguchi tries his hand at the hack ‘n slash genre on the Xbox 360 and much to my own surprise, it isn’t half-bad!

At a glance, Ninety-Nine Nights may seem like nothing more than a genric Dynasty Warriors clone and to the die-hard Dynasty Warriors fans this game may not be anything special. I am by no means a fan of Dynasty Warriors and in fact I would venture to say it’s one of my least-favorite game series of all-time. However, I fell in love with N3 despite the similarities to the Dynasty Warriors series.

First, let me start this party by talking about the beautiful graphics. At the time N3 came out, the graphics were absolutely gorgeous. High resolution textures, beautifully rendered character models, steady framerate even with 1,000+ enemies on the battlefield at once; Quite revolutionary at the time. No other console game had displayed so many enemies on-screen at one time, much less having done it so well! By today’s standards in our fast-paced and ever-so-growing world, the graphics may not seem like much, but think about it in terms of the era in which the game was released. Even now we don’t see massive full-scale battles like that very often, but there’s not much else to say here. The graphics are good. The framerate is steady. Fans and would-be fans of the genre alike should have no complaints about the graphics at all.

We know graphics don’t entirely make a game, so what about the gameplay? You pick a character, run through battlefields, slaughter lots and lots of enemies, level up and find new items, some of which you can equip to your character to boost certain stats. Sound familiar? Well okay, so in terms of the genre, the gameplay is not that unique or even too fresh, but guess what? It works out really well. After all, why change a formula if it isn’t broken to begin with? There are a few small improvements above what Dynasty Warriors has done in the past that give this game an edge, though. For starters, you have very mild control over an army by using the shoulder buttons. You can tell them to simply hold position and attack or follow and attack. It’s not much, but once you’ve learned which combinations work best for each of the missions, it can give you an extra edge. You also have a bit more of a choice as to which equipment you want to use. You may wear a weapon of your choosing once it has been unlocked, as is common practice, but you also unlock up to 3 accessory slots, which may be fitted with anything from cloaks that reduce damage to bracers that enhance your damage output. It’s a nice little addition that makes you feel more in control of the characters. The only other thing of note that’s a little fresh is the amount of different combos and special moves each character has access to. Each character has his or her own special attacks that you may trigger whenever your blue orb meter is filled. Some of them are feats of mass destruction, with others being more single-target techniques that tear through bosses rather quickly when timed properly. Each character also has a very wide array of combos you can choose between to keep the combat a bit fresh in comparison to the standard single-button spam commonly found in most games of the genre. It’s also of quick note that every character has his or her own set of missions. Some of the characters only have 2 missions, while others have 4 and 1 character has 7. All of these things make for a rather interestingly fast-paced package that shows a decent amount of length if you see it through to the end, clocking in at somewhere between 25-30 hours if you max every character out, get all of the achievements and find every item hidden throughout the game.

As far as the story goes, it’s really not all that deep, as one would expect from such a game. Each character has his or her own short and rather undetailed story, which range from Inphyy’s vengeance to the secret character’s random series mass destruction. There really is not much to say here because quite honestly, the story in this game is not all that good. It’s not terrible, but it’s far, far from noteworthy.

Sound, sound sound. The stuff that makes the world go ’round. Okay, I realize that was extremely cheesy, but what would a good game be without awesome sound effects and a good musical score? This game does not fail to maintain an amazingly epic soundtrack from start to finish. The music completely and utterly fits the large-scale battles and the heightened moments of combat, such as boss fights. The sound effects fit into place just as well. The character voices are fairly well-acted and the combat sound effects are pretty standards, but the music in this game is just perfect for what it is. I don’t think many people will run out and seek the soundtrack on store shelves, but for all intents and purposes, the music makes you feel like you’re a part of these battles.

In summary, I would like to point out that this game is not for everyone. If you can’t handle hack ‘n slash or some degree of repitition, you may want to pass this buy. For any of the hardcore gamers out there, this game may be more of a rent due to it’s length and serious repitition. For all of you achievement addicts, this game is easy pickings. None of the achievements are difficult to obtain if you put in a little effort. For everyone else, this game might just be worth picking up at your local game store. The $20-30 price tag is very appealing and would make an excellent gift for anyone who doesn’t want to break the bank.

Pros:
+ For it’s time, great graphics.
+ Pretty lengthy for a newcomer to the genre.
+ Lovable characters.
+ Very fitting, epic soundtrack.
+ Good ol’ hack ‘n slash combat with some welcome additions.
+ Low price tag.

Cons:
– May not be long enough for some people, especially the hardcore Dynasty Warriors fans.
– The story arcs are below average at best and lack any details whatsoever.
– The secret character, while funny, is a bit boring to play as.
– Some characters have very few missions.

Bottom Line:
For most people, this is a rent. For fans of the genre, the low price tag makes this a definite buy.

Overall Rating: 8.00

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