When it comes to hack and slash titles, there's a fine line to tread between making a great, addictive title like God of War or a repetitive chore of a game, which is unfortunately the category Ninety-Nine Nights 2 falls into.
Ninety-Nine Nights 2 (N3II), sports one of the most straight-forward and uninspired stories we've seen in a video game. So here it goes, the evil Lord of the Night suddenly and inexplicably appeared in the kingdom of Orphea 92 days ago. In this time his mindless hordes has spread across Orphea, conquering and pillaging as far as they go.
Unfortunately Orphea's armies seem useless against the invaders, so it falls to five brave heroes to take on the armies of the Lord of the Night. Throughout the game you'll have the opportunity to unlock and play as all five heroes, slaying literally thousands of enemies that stand in your path.
Okay, so the game has a typical cheesy fantasy storyline, but we've seen other games shine with equally ridiculous premises. Where N3II fails though, is in its execution of the story. The game is littered with cut scenes intended to progress the narrative and introduce new characters. Usually this works well, but N3II sports such atrocious lip syncing and questionable voice acting that these sequences feel dull and uninspired.
The character design, although not terrible, didn't really wow either. The majority of the enemy hordes are simply identical clones of each other, looking like crude copies of Orcs from the Lord of the Rings movies.
Throughout N3II the player can take on the role of one of five playable characters, a warrior haunted by his past, a huge brutish blue warrior, a goblin assassin and two elven maidens. Each character has their own weapon and special ability, but other than that they generally feel the same.
N3II gives a new meaning to the hack and slash genre, delivering a mainly brainless style of gameplay which revolves around you slaying thousands of cloned enemies. It's also very reminiscent of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, outright mimicking some concepts.
The game features two main types of attacks, a strong strike and a fast strike, assigned to the B and Y buttons on the Xbox 360 controller. We found that the most effective way to slice through the evil hordes was to simply bash these two buttons continually, and by continually we mean all the freaking time. By alternating between the two attack buttons while slowly turning, you can strike most enemies around you.
The game does deliver a few cool looking combo's which can be activated by inputting different button combinations, but the fact that the combo animations can't be stopped once initiated makes you vulnerable to attack from behind. They still look really nice though, which at least is something. While the combo's were flashy, they're most useful against powerful targets, not hundreds of goblins pricking you in the ribs with toothpicks.
The enemies in the game were also some of the most daft AI we've ever encountered. Most of the game will have about a hundred or so enemies surrounding you and then stepping ahead one by one like well disciplined school children to try and deliver a hit to your character. Most of the time these brainless goons simply form a wide circle around you while they wait for your swords to slice them in half.
Once of the things the game does deliver on, is the sheer number of enemies on screen at any one time. There can be literally hundreds of enemies mobbing you and most levels will see the player sporting a kill count well north of the 500 mark. It's also common to achieve amazing 1 000 hit combos, but this can be done by simply bashing the attack buttons, so it's not nearly as satisfying.
While most of the game is a cakewalk, every now and then you'll encounter an area with seemingly impossible odds. From large groups of fast charging horse demons to boss encounters featuring really nasty opponents, N3II is a see-saw of mindlessly easy and frustratingly hard gameplay.
The game also reaches new heights in repetitiveness, featuring identical looking levels and frequently even forcing the player to play through the same levels they did earlier, but this time playing from the viewpoint of a different character.
The game doesn't support a co-operative campaign mode, so no facing the Lord of the Night with a friend by your side. It does however have other multiplayer modes known as survival, race, hell first and escort. These modes will see you and a friend take on hordes of enemies in different scenario's, and they can serve as a fun distraction if you're looking for some mindless slaying. Another crippling flaw is that the game doesn't support split-screen play, so it's either system link or playing over Xbox Live if you want to play N3II with others. These modes also don't allow the players to fight each other, so look forward to more goblin slaying.
Ninety-Nine Nights 2 is your typical hack and slash console title, it doesn't feature a great story or memorable characters, but if you're looking for some mindless killing it may just deliver.