Ninety Nine Nights came on the scene a while ago for the 360, and I decided to rent it from GameFly after seeing it on Dan’s playlist every time I log on to xBox live. While it’s a very pretty game, and a technically impressive game, there are some issues that take away from the fun of playing the game.
These issues, while not “game breaking,” turn the game into an exercise in hitting the X button.
I’d like to point out that the designers have most definitely watched the Lord of the Rings movies, because they are throwing lots and lots of enemies at you, all at once. Thankfully, your characters are more than capable of taking on hundreds of foes at once, and I actually relished seeing the thronging masses advancing as one solid tide. The first character you play, Inphyy (the rest are unlocked as you progress through the game’s missions) is an eighteen year old Temple Knight, and is a total badass.
She’s also well, to put it lightly, a crazy bitch.
It’s really very cool to see her plowing through dozens of enemies with each swing of the sword, a la Sauron, except she’s the good guy.
Sort of. You see, there’s a war going on with the Orcs, but during one mission, you actually face Orc non combatants.
Orc elderly, Orc women and children happen to be in the Orc “encampment.” Now, you have to make a choice here, and your companions point out that they’re running away, that they’re not soldiers at all. Of course, Orcs killed Inphyy’s father so she’s content to slaughter every last one of them so this never happens again.
It’s a fine line between being a crusader of the light and being a willing participant in Orc genocide.
Kudos to the writers for pointing out that side of the conflict.
Now, Inphyy’s a great fighter, and there are all sorts of combination attacks that all have to do with a few taps of X, followed by a few taps of Y, or some variant thereof. As she fights, she levels up, opening up more powerful combination attacks. There are lots of attacks, but you end up using the one ultra effective combination for your level until you find another one that’s even more effective.
In short, I hope you like pressing X, followed by Y, occasionally pressing B when your “super” attack is charged up and ready to go.
And repeat. I’ve just summed up the majority of gameplay for Ninety Nine Nights. Sure, you have troops that you can order around, but they’re not as hardy as you. I find that they are completely useless, as they will surround one Orc soldier and taunt him endlessly, until I come over and put that Orc out of his misery.
You know what guys? I’ll be over here, fighting the entirety of the Orc war machine by myself.
The fighting is satisfying, although a bit mindless.
Then you hit the first boss. You find out very quickly that during their attack animation, they are immune to your attacks. Invulnerable.
Also, unlike every other minion on the game, you can’t juggle them for additional hits after you knock them down.
And then you find out that they can knock out about a third of your health every strike, while you whittle away at their health bar millimeters at a time.
Sometimes, you can utilize a “super” attack to get some hits in, and then beat up some minions to charge up another “super” attack to hit them again. However, this strategy tends to fail in situations where face bosses without disposable minions.
And then you find out that you have to start the entire mission over after you die. Played for thirty minutes clearing out the battlefield of Orcs and picking up some sweet sweet items? No, I’m sorry, you really didn’t. None of that actually happened. You’ll have to do that all over again. Did I mention that the missions are long? Well, they’re long, and don’t have save points.
Kind of maddening.
That said, once I became aware of that the game will arbitrarily attempt to kill you through unscrupulous means at the end of the mission, the game ends up being fun somehow. It’s the Conan part of my brain that’s responsible for telling me what’s good in life.
“To craush yoor enehmees! To see them driven befoar yoou. And to hear the lamentations of de wimmens.”
So it’s simple, and pretty, and a time sink.
Kind of like that one girl. But I didn’t want to shell out full price for her either.
N3 is at the budget price range for next gen games, but I’m still on the fence. (When did $30 become the new $20, anyway?) But hey, gamefly to the rescue until I get sick of playing the same missions with the sole purpose of leveling up the characters just so I can plow my way through later missions.