N3II: Ninety-Nine Nights may be only the second game in this hack-and-slash series, but it's modeled so shamelessly on the Dynasty Warriors franchise that it feels like something we've seen a dozen times before. It also feels carelessly put together, with a lousy story that is marred by technical problems, shallow combat, and frustrating design choices--and there is no attempt to build on the concepts that it apes from the Dynasty Warriors games. All of this makes N3II a tired, derivative, soul-crushingly tedious experience.
Minstrels will sing songs about how you spilt the blood of thousands of mindless clones on the field of battle.
The fantasy kingdom of Orphea is in the midst of dark times. The Lord of the Night appeared 92 days ago, and his armies of evil are spreading across the land. Unfortunately, most of Orphea's soldiers are basically useless, so it falls upon five brave heroes to do the bulk of the work, slashing the forces of darkness to bits by the thousands in battles across the land. The story is all typical fantasy stuff, and the characters are as lifeless as the plot is unoriginal. It's a by-the-numbers tale that's made worse by the fact that some cutscenes suffer from severe lip-syncing problems.
Initially, the sheer scope of the battles in N3II can be exciting. In the first mission, you face enemy soldiers by the hundreds in the courtyard of a castle while huge flaming stones soar through the sky above. It's a thrilling fantasy scene until you realize that most of those enemy soldiers aren't fighting for their lives in an intense battle but are patiently milling around just waiting to be cleaved in two by a few swings of your blade. They politely gather around you so that the huge sweeping arcs of your attacks can conveniently mow them to bits, and they're usually quickly replaced by many more soldiers. As the warrior Galen, you can string together your attack buttons to perform stylish and spectacular combos, and the sight of Galen twirling gracefully around--his twin blades slicing through enemies effortlessly--is impressive at first. But it quickly becomes clear that this is all just mindless button mashing, and with some levels that can drag on for the better part of an hour, the biggest challenge is to avoid getting lulled into a stupor by the excruciatingly dull action. As you progress, you encounter other characters that then become available until you have five interconnected stories to play through. While these characters feel quite different from one another, the combat is as repetitive and tiresome with one of them as it is with any other, so although the sheer brute strength of the hulking Maggni is a nice change from Galen's more graceful techniques at first, it rapidly becomes every bit as dreary.