83There’s not much you can dislike about Ninja Gaiden. You’ve got Ryu Hayubasa, arguably the most badass ninja around. You’ve got giant bosses, opposing ninjas that won’t wait around to attack you one at a time, beautiful ladies, and powerful weaponry to help you cut a path through anything that stands before you–you’ll need that help, because the action sequences are difficult (but satisfying).‚  There are problems though, and they keep Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 from absolutely-must-own status like the first title in the series and its revamped Playstation 3 edition.

Publisher: Tecmo
Developer: Team Ninja
Sep. 29, 2009

The original has been kicking around for well over a year, so you may know the basics, but for the uninitiated, here goes. Sonia, a CIA agent dressed like a dominatrix and stacked like a porn star, is looking for Rya Hayabusa, and she’s kidnapped in front of him by the Dragon Clan’s nemesis, the Black Spider Ninja Clan. You eventually catch up to Sonia and get her to spill the beans about the crisis facing the world, but not fast enough to stop them from putting the plan into motion. Because of this, you have to take down the Greater Fiends and all of the ninjas, demons and giant puppet statues they employ along the way as you attempt to stop the awakening of the Arch Fiend.

As Ryu, you are trained in the use of a variety of weapons, most of which, while different in their use, find the same result: enemy dismemberment. Dismembered enemies (excepting those missing their heads, of course) will attempt to commit explosive suicide on top of Ryu, so you need to be mindful of them. Battles, no matter which weapon you wield, are fast-paced and frantic, and you need to be on your toes and blocking in order to survive the larger onslaughts. Thankfully, the camera, which was such a massive drawback in Ninja Gaiden II, has been fixed most of the way thanks to a camera reset that puts the view in the direction Ryu is looking. It can still be trouble on occasion if you are cornered, but it’s not something you’ll notice every step of the way.

If you like difficult action games with loads of enemies, then Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is for you. The story is completely over the top at times, and it seems like it takes itself very seriously, but at the same time you know deep down that everything is very tongue-in-cheek. How else do you come to a scenario where a man with a sword is able to destroy gigantic and iconic statues that have come to life like they are made out of Play Doh? The story is actually more enjoyable because of its nonsensical nature, because you’re sitting around waiting to see what ridiculous idea the developers have come up with for your next epic battle.

There’s some new stuff for those considering diving in a second time, like new bosses, weapons and playable characters, as well as an online co-op mission mode. If you’re by your lonesome, the second character will be controlled by the computer, so you can still experience this even if you have no one to play with. The missions are also great for replay value, given you can go through them again and again with your buddies, using different characters and strategies to get by. Sigma 2 also did a great job of cutting out a lot of the excess fat from the Xbox 360 version–because of this, the pacing is better, cheap deaths are lessened and the game is an overall more satisfying experience because of it. Oh, and you can jiggle the ladies assets with motion control, but that’s not exactly a bullet-point addition, now is it?

At the same time, if you’re a Ninja Gaiden II die hard, you may be put off by some of the changes. The game is far less bloody–there are no more fountains of blood shooting out of the necks and bodies of your dismembered opponents. On the plus side, the game’s frame rate is very good, and things run smoothly the whole time. On the downside, your blood fountains are gone, and the pro-blood fountain demographic is sure to make noise about this blatant disregard for their needs. The higher difficulty levels are also different, as your enemies have more hit points and do more damage, but don’t seem to be that much more intelligent in their approach. Some of the additions also don’t make much sense–that Buddha statue that comes after you in the first level just sort of appears out of nowhere when you’re still fighting basic goons (the Fiends have not been awakened yet). There are also some annoying presentation issues–a few levels are very, very bland in their look (hello New York city) and the game does not account for your weapon of choice in cutscenes–Ryu apparently has time to sheath the weapon he was using to pull out the Dragon Sword he didn’t fight with after each and every boss encounter.

Blast Factor: Those who did not play the original because they do not own both consoles will most likely not notice or care about the omissions, because Sigma 2 is a smoother gameplay experience, just like Sigma was. Fans of the original are sure to be split down the middle–those who played it on all of the difficulties until their fingers cramped probably won’t mind giving this new version a go, but whether they enjoy it or not has a lot to do with their level of blood lust (or their love for polygonal breasts that jiggle on command). If you can deal without the blood, then you’ll be happy you picked up this more recent edition.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is available exclusively on the Playstation 3, and retails for $59.99. A copy of this game was given to us by the publisher for review purposes.

About The Author

Marc Normandin was gaming editor of Blast from 2008 to mid-2010. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @Marc_Normandin

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