Ninja Gaiden 2 Review

Format: Xbox 360 (exclusive)

Well, it’s been a long time in coming but one of the most awaited sequels to an action game is finally here – that game is Ninja Gaiden 2 – an Xbox 360 exclusive.  I say here because what I mean is that I’m lucky enough to have my PAL copy slightly early.  With this in mind, I felt it only fair to pass on my thoughts to you all at Forever Geek so that you can decide for yourselves if it really is ‘ninjatastic’!

Once again, the player takes control of a certain Ryu Hayabusa – a ninja of tremendous skill and power adept with more melee weapons than you can shake a stick at (there’s eight in the game and who knows, more through downloadable content?).  Mentioning which, you’ll find that the action remains similar to previous games in the series, with huge combos being doled out to various small fry before moving on to the big bosses.  We’ll come to those in a bit though.

Action
There’s no doubt that Ninja Gaiden 2 ups the ante big style – this is a game that isn’t all flash (say like Devil May Cry 4) but has a lot of substance behind it.  If you get combos right, you can be hitting several enemies at once, cutting off limbs, slicing necks and unleashing blood all over the place.  Ah yes, the blood.  You’ll get to see quite a bit of the crimson stuff, not least because the Black Spider Clan makes a return.  Ryu loves to beat up on these guys, and so will you – especially when they’re trying to claw their way to you to blow you up.

Aside from the aforementioned melee weapons, you get a plethora of ranged weapons.  This is great news if you have a playing style that’s anything similar to mine – there’s something quite satisfying in shooting off a tank-shell type arrow from your heavy bow.  Apart from the same combos from the original, you can now access an ‘Obliteration’ technique.  You can use this to really shred your enemies when they’re downed – this even works to spectacular effect on some bosses!  Mentioning which, your foes will vary from the most basic ninja opponents to massive, monstrous Fiend Lords.  Isn’t variety great?

Story
Ninja Gaiden has never been particularly hot on story – mixing as it does modern day, real world locations with weird demons, oddly dressed men and women in S&M gear.  However, at least there is an attempt at a story, with the Archfiend attempting to rise against the Dragons and bring about some sort of hell on Earth (don’t they all try to do this?).  Unfortunately, whilst Rachel has gone, there’s a new female protagonist in the form of Sonia.  Will you see her scantily dressed?  Well, only time will tell on this one.

The cut scenes that play out in the game are as pretty as those of Sigma, but they don’t really offer too much.  For me, this is one thing to be thankful for; I’m really glad that Tomonobu Itagaki (the genius behind the game) didn’t got the way of Metal Gear Solid and really try to push five minute long footage down our throats.  Ninja Gaiden 2 (as with the previous game) is all about the action.

The point above really sums up the game.  Whether you’re on any of the cool stages (Russia, Tokyo, New York or even the jungle), Ninja Gaiden 2 serves up violence in spades.  It is a game that remains true to its roots – it really is old school.  It is the hallmark, the standout in a series that will punish a bad player whilst rewarding those who take the time to learn how the combat functions – and that method seems to be a backwards and forwards exchange where you can use combos, counters and power shots to really perform well in the game.

Graphics, Sound etc
The production values of the game are very good, there’s no doubt that it’s easily on par with Sigma.  Much better though?  Not really, no, it’s not a huge leap.  However, you won’t find many poor textures and much like when Ninja Gaiden was released on the original Xbox you’ll be more than happy with the overall production quality.  Everything down to the ambient music seems right.

Conclusion
Ninja Gaiden 2
is a great game, representing some of the most brilliant action you’ll find this side of Devil May Cry 4’s release.  However, the original criticisms remain, which is that not only can the camera be frustrating but the game itself can be too difficult for some.  Nonetheless, if you learn to play well you’ll no doubt manage to take down bosses without using health potions and become a dab hand at finishing moves too.  If you’ve played the original, the Black version or Ninja Gaiden: Sigma and want more of the same then I promise you won’t be disappointed.  If you’re impatient you might well hate it, but if you are a gamer with 1337 skills you’re sure to have a lot of fun.

Score
9/10

N.B. The word on the street is that the demo for Europe is hitting Xbox Live on the games’ release this Friday.

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