To say Ninety Nine Nights bares something of a close comparison to the Dynasty Warriors series is like stating that John Carpenters "The Thing" is OK. Ish.
Nights is Microsoft’s main way of flogging the Xbox360 to all those Asian gamers who left the original Xbox sat on the shelves.
Thankfully though, instead of merely mimicking that series that’s currently on a downward spiral, Nights selects a choice few cuts from the hardcore gaming sleeper hit Kingdom Under Fire.
So with a huge number of gorgeous realised enemies on screen, a potentially intriguing storyline involving good and evil, and a sneaky hint of strategy, just how can it go wrong?
Well, wrong is the unfortunate tag we’ve got to stamp on Nights' forehead.
There’s a couple of upsides. For starters, it looks solid. It’s not pushing the 360 to the limits as, say, Project Gotham Racing 3 did, but the graphics are passable.
With the huge number of characters viewable on screen at any one time, the feeling of being involved in a huge mass battle can't be beat. The backdrops themselves however do leave a little to be desired however, with copious amounts of grey rock and little foliage to dazzle us with.
But these mildly impressive graphics do end up leaving us with a title that tends to slow to a crawl. It jerks around at an alarming rate when there’s a lot going on. And with the huge amount of enemies to despatch, this slow down happens with quite frustrating regularity.
Choosing from one of seven characters to begin with, you follow their routes and stories through to their conclusion. Since all seven have wildly different ideologies and views on the world, you’ll be siding with good looking, barrel chested blonde types who fight for world peace and those evil, creaking, ugly scrotes who hate the world and everything in it.
The missions themselves are interspersed with a multitude of cut scenes containing some of the worst scripts and voice acting heard on a modern day console. So a potentially engaging story of the blurring between good and evil, say, feels more like a GCSE effort.
Out on the field of battle there are a few signs of improvement, but you’ll be quickly disappointed. The frantic button mashing action initially feels varied, but soon stumbles into one constant stream of repeatedly pressing the same sequence of buttons for hours on end. When mashing actually works better than using the including specific combos, you know things aren’t looking too good.
Unfortunately that’s what Nights initially boils down to - another button masher with no depth. Our wait for another essential Xbox360 title continues.