A Different Approach to What Ninja Gaiden 2 Should Be.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is the recreation of Ninja Gaiden 2 but for the PS3 with some added content to go along with it. For those of you new to the franchise, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is a hack-n-slash action game with less focus on button mashing and more focus on movement and pulling off the right combo for the right situation.
The game stars the legendary dragon clan ninja Ryu Hayabusa as he tries to stop the bad guys from resurrecting the arch-fiend. For the most part the story is very bland and extremely random leaving you only with "this is the bad guy, I suggest killing him before he kills you". For those interested, the story from Ninja Gaiden 2 on the xbox is slightly expanded here because of the extra missions added with the new characters. Overall, the story is really not the reason to play this game, the cut scenes are thankfully either very short or at the beginning and the end of the chapters.
The combat in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is where the game truly shines. The controls are very responsive and it always seems like Ryu is doing exactly what you tell him to do. Ryu also has a slew of weapons to help him out ranging from a sword to a spiky staff to a pair of claws on both his hands and feet. The game also features an upgrade system allowing you to upgrade all the weapons to increase their strength and allowing them to perform devastating new combos. The new weapon added in this version is a heavy sword that I'm not particularly impressed with. The reason for this is that the original set of weapons were really varied and certain weapons were good for specific situations. Well, the new weapon feels like a mix between the lunar staff and the eclipse scythe but falls short at being worse than both at their given strengths.
This leads into the next new feature which is the 3 new playable female characters. When playing through the missions for these characters on the easier difficulties they can be really fun and a nice change of pace. They also expand on the earlier levels which is good and bad as they retread old ground but also show some new areas. Unfortunately, these missions become a real pain in the ass on the hardest difficulty. The reason for this being the inability to adapt to the situation at hand. For these missions, you are given only 1 weapon, a few items and no money. You simply can't brute force your way through these missions and you also can't properly deal with the enemies because the weapon just sucks against certain enemies.
The new game mode added is called team missions and is an interesting addition to the franchise. The co-op element works surprisingly well in the "just kill lots of dudes" type of scenarios. The problem with these missions is that they are just way too hard and they don't allow you to change weapons. If you thought beating a boss was hard then you should try beating 3 bosses at the same time without healing and without being able to change weapons.
As for core gameplay changes to Ninja Gaiden 2 on the xbox, they took out all the projectiles except the shuriken and the bow and added a bazooka and made them all infinite ammo with no charging up. This change was especially strange because many areas that made use of the now gone projectile weapons or the charging up feature are either deserted or super broken. They also slightly fixed the camera to be less of a nuance which should make the game a little more accessible to newcomers.
In the end, the gameplay changes and additions are enough to make the Ninja Gaiden 2 experience seem fresh to veterans while keeping relatively close to what made Ninja Gaiden 2 such a great action game for newcomers to the sequel. Unfortunately, some of the changes really detract from the experience of trying to master the game.
For the most part the game looks very much like Ninja Gaiden 2 for the xbox and even plays at 1080p like it's older brother(which is rare for a ps3 game). Some textures have seen a noticeable face-lift and some really nice particle effects have been added that really give the game an awesome sense of style. Unfortunately, almost all the blood and gore from the original game is gone. It's just really strange seeing only the lower half of an enemy and a small puddle of blood after a battle when you totally just sliced a full human in half. Overall the game looks fantastic by taking an approach that feels more "gamey" than gritty.
This is where I feel Ninja Gaiden 2 really shines and was hoping to transfer over the most with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. Each step up in difficulty forces you to play significantly different and learn more about the combat system much like mass effect did(if you haven't played mass effect on the harder difficulties and think the combat sucks then you fail). In the xbox version, difficulty was handled by increasing the number of enemies, changing the types of enemies and very slightly increasing the damage of the enemies. This created situations where you truly felt like a master ninja after besting waves upon waves of enemies.
On the other hand, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 decided to keep the number of enemies the same in favour of increasing enemy health and damage even more. This significantly changes how the difficulties between the 2 games feel. Having achieved all 1250 points in the xbox version and played about 1/4 of the way through the ps3 version I feel the changes were for the worse. It becomes infuriating when a single enemy grabs you at the end of a perfect battle and instantly kills you in the ps3 version. Add to this the inability to change weapons in the new missions and I simply refused to try to get any further.
Ninja Gaiden 2 for the xbox is a game that becomes much more interesting and rewarding as the difficulty increases. I feel the ps3 version is less interesting and has a smaller sense of achievement than it's xbox counterpart. If you are willing to master the game it can eat up months. However, if you don't plan to play on higher difficulties then the game should take a modest 10-15 hours to complete.
Final Thoughts:Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is an amazing action game. The combat is top notch with amazing variety that will easily last you through 4 difficulty settings. On top of that, the game just looks great in motion. Unfortunately, the game is flawed in several areas that hold the game back from standing above it's older brother on the xbox.
Overall, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is a game best played at the lower difficulties so I highly recommend this game to anyone who wants a deep action game and isn't afraid to learn new things. The game also brings new features and changes to the original game that make it feel fresh and is probably worth another purchase for those who loved the original on the xbox. I would recommend anyone looking to conquer a mountain to instead check out the xbox version.