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November 27, 2007
Given a few hours with Sonic Team's new NiGHTS game, would you expect anything less than for GamesRadar to finish it? OK, so admittedly the majority of it had been unlocked already, but after defeating a boss behind a question mark, the final section opened up and we went on to blitz the last level, smash the boss, finish the game and see the credits roll. But fear not - we'll leave any potential spoilers for the final page of this preview, so if you don't want to know what happens, just don't read the last page. Simple.
So how's the game looking? Well... it's a game of contradictions. Some sections are simply glorious, while others are a bit underwhelming. Some gameplay aspects are identical to the original, yet others are almost completely alien.
But the one thing that made us cry out 'oh no! ' is that NiGHTS now talks. Alright, we know he used to make some vocal noises in the original, but now we get fully animated cut-scenes using the in-game engine to further the plot. And his voice is horrible. It sounds like a girl pretending to be a boy, with an 'American trying to sound British' accent that ends up sounding Australian. Think Ross' attempt at being English in Friends or Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. All voiced by Noddy - the happiest little fellow in all Toyland. Fortunately, while you're actually playing, NiGHTs is silent and serene, but when you can't skip the cutscenes, there's no escaping the horror.
In contrast, the rest of the game sounds lovely. The owl who acts as your guide is voiced well and the music fits the action perfectly. Several of the old sound effects have been used again in their original form, but don't sound tacked-on.
Above: Just look at the colours - it's a joy to look at. At least from up here...
Similarly, the graphics are mostly beautiful. Like Mario Galaxy, the game isn't afraid to use bright primary colours everywhere. And when NiGHTS is in flight, it really works. The frame-rate issues that affected early builds are gone and it's now a smooth, joyous experience. But it's a different story on the ground. The two children, Will and Helen, each get some levels to tackle on foot. And while throwing blue chips (no, not fries - orbs) at enemies is solid enough, the graphics just don't look as convincing close-up as they do from the skies and the gameplay is really rather uninspiring platform fare.
The running animations are dubious too. Interestingly, though, the children know each other this time around and some levels see one child escort the other through their dream.
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