N3: Ninety-Nine Nights Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

The foggy battlefields, less than perfect frame rates and limited amount of troops on screen at one time all signified that consoles weren’t quite ready for large scale battle games such as Dynasty Warriors, Devil Kings and the beautiful but foggy Kingdom under Fire. It could be argued that Spartan achieved this, without any real graphical deficiencies to speak of, and it did, but only after shrinking things down to a minuscule size. With the advent of the significantly more powerful 360, games with such battles of grandeur are finally given the detail they so deserve…almost.

Microsoft’s N3: Ninety-Nine Nights is largely the real deal offering up hundreds of goblins for you to gleefully slay on screen at a time, accompanied by flashy combos that make even the Musou attacks featured in Dynasty Warriors look weak. On the other hand, N3’s own special attacks are a nuclear explosion opposed to Dynasty Warriors cheap fireworks display, and even though some of them happen to be accompanied by a struggling framerate, it’s still a good display of the might of Microsoft’s new baby.

N3 has seven characters (a paltry amount compared to the Dynasty Warriors series) though to begin with you are only able to play as the nimble female knight: Inphyy. Progression through the game unlocks more (all of which are pleasingly diverse) and this somewhat frustrating structure continues for the games duration.

To begin with, each character doesn’t have many attack options, but as they advance in levels, you’ll earn ever more powerful and visually impressive combos. Whilst, furiously mashing the buttons will get you results in most situations, the many attack options available to you does at least give you the chance to mix things up, which can go a long way in helping to lessen the monotony of the game.

Killing enemies will reward you red orbs, which fills up your orb gauge, once it is full, you are then able to fire off your special attack. Killing enemies with this will reward you blue orbs for your orb spark gauge. Activate this and you’ll be treated to a visually spectacular attack, which more often than not, just about eradicates every enemy unfortunate enough to be on the screen, but since it takes so long to completely fill the gauge for this, you must ensure you use it in the right situation.

Prior to each mission, you are able to choose which two ally units to take with you. These can be given limited commands, but unlike Phantagram’s own recent Kingdom Under Fire titles, which are a concoction of both action and strategy, N3 is predominantly an action game and unless you are hoping to get an S rating on every level, ally units are likely to soon be forgotten as they’re not in the least bit helpful and very much deserve to be sent to their inevitable deaths.

N3 has far worse problems than this though, which consist of some amateurish design flaws.

Too often, combos are interrupted by in-game cut scenes, cancelling them out. Supremely infuriating, particularly when you have reached a combo in the thousands. The same can be said for the special attacks, fire one of these off just before a cut scene and their highly destructive effects won’t come to fruition.

Worse still, checkpoints are nowhere to be found and as a result many of your deaths will be maddening, it’s enough to transform a sane person into an angry monster. When you consider that the game can be pretty challenging and most levels are sizeable, with some lasting close to an hour, this is simply unacceptable and nothing more than an evil ploy to extend the lifespan of the game.

Another issue is the framerate. Generally proceedings chug along at a fairly smooth rate, but on occasion there’s some horrendous slowdown, which makes things appear as if they’re running in slow motion.

Whilst the combat is a thrill, these glaring faults can’t be overlooked as they will likely infuriate many and tarnish their experience with the game. A shame, but if you’re able to tolerate it’s flaws, this is one of the better mass battle games available. On the other hand, those who can’t, will find that N3 is an above average game, which if not for its sizeable problems could easily have been a fantastic one.