tatsurouxiii's Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (PlayStation 3) review

No blood? No problem!

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (let's just call it NGS2) is a PS3 remake of the 2008 X360 game, Ninja Gaiden II. And what a remake it is! If you're completely new to the franchise, here's a quick introduction: the Ninja Gaiden series consists of fourteen (yes, 14) action adventure games that have been known throughout the years for being extremely difficult and bloody satisfying. Let me put it this way: you think you can play games? Pick up a copy of Ninja Gaiden II for the 360, play it on the hardest difficulty setting, and then rethink your life. This franchise has always been sort of infamous for its difficult, and rightfully so. In the games you are a ninja (duh.) and do all kinds of ninja stuff, like slicing hundreds of enemies with your sword, cutting off heads, arms, legs, running on water and walls, jumping from skyscrapers without a parachute. You know, saving the world. The ninja way. In this particular release you play the part of Ryu Hayabusa, a ninja from the Dragon Clan, and your mission is to save the world from a bunch of evil creatures called the Greater Fiends, which are trying to resurrect the Archfiend, an ancient creature that is pure evil. Basically, it's Satan that looks like a giant beetle or something like that. Not pleasant to look at.

NGS2 is a remake, so it has the exact same story, the same levels, and the same moves and mechanics as the original game, however, there developers added lots of additional content, which makes the game feel fresh and new, even if you played the original. The list of additions and refinements in NGS2 is long. The thing that is instantly noticeable is that there is no actual blood in the game. At first it seems really strange, especially if you played the uber-bloody original. I mean, when you cut of a guy's arm, you expect him to bleed a little, right? Well, for some reason the developers decided that there will be no blood in this release. But hey, not all is lost, there is this purple mist coming out of the wounds. It takes a couple of minutes to get used to, but overall it's nothing to get upset about. It doesn't kill the fun, because you can still perform all the obliterations and ultra-fast Ultimate Techniques, and watching that on the screen is still very satisfying, even though there is no blood.

The second thing you'll notice is that NGS2 is easier than its source material. It wasn't made by the same people, and it shows. The developers have two reasons with which they explain the reduced difficulty: they wanted to make the game more accessible and enjoyable to newcomers, and since most of the additional content unlocks after you finish the story, they wanted to make sure that everyone actually gets to unlock it (you wouldn't believe how many people just simply gave up playing the previous installments in the franchise because they were so damn difficult). However, saying that this game is easier does not mean it's not challenging anymore. It still is a Ninja Gaiden game, just made for normal people, not just the nerds with controllers surgically implanted into their hands. The higher difficulty modes are still a challenge, and will give you that feeling of frustration so familiar to Ninja Gaiden fans.

So what exactly are the improvements that make NGS2 better than the original? First of all, the technical side of things. The game looks, sounds, and plays better. The graphics have been retouched to take full advantage of the PS3's power, the sound has been remastered and a lot of other minor technical issues have been fixed, so now the game runs smoothly and without a frame lost.The Ninja Gaiden series has also been infamous for bad camera. NGS2 finally breaks free from that curse, introducing a feature that will center the camera right behind the character with just one click of R3, and a direction indicator. If you don't know where to go, you press a button and the camera zooms in the direction you're supposed to go. This comes in very handy in some of the more complex levels.

Moving on, the gameplay has been improved a whole lot as well. First, they got rid of all that annoying shit from the first game, like having to shoot fish with that weird underwater machine gun thing (that weapon isn't even in this version of the game), or that underground level where you have to fight the big green goo worm. That was a real pain in the ass in the first game, and thankfully it was removed. OK. Remember how frustrating using the bow was in Ninja Gaiden II? Don't worry about that, now you have an auto-targeting system at your disposal. You just prep your bow and the crosshair automatically locks on the enemy you are facing. You also do not have to charge your arrows, which makes shooting things easier and less of a pace-killer. So there you have it, the annoying shit has been removed, the faulty mechanics have been repaired, and the game plays really well.

Moving on to the good stuff (finally): the added content. In addition to playing as Ryu, the baddest of badasses, you will also play three bonus missions, featuring the three lovely female characters: Momiji, Ayane, and Rachel. Each of these ladies have their own fighting styles, their own weapons and finishing moves, but above all that, all three of them have exquisite, huge boobs. It's a real shame that in story mode you only play as them for three short missions. But hey, once you do, they become available in the brand new co-op mode, in which you can play with an AI controlled partner or a friend over the PlayStation Network. This new mode has been executed very well and is a really good addition. There are more than thirty levels to choose from in this mode and, well, once you do get into the fight, it's just pure fucking ninja armageddon. The next cool feature is called Chapter Challenge, and what it does is let you replay each of the story's missions individually for points. The more points you get – the higher you rank in the online leaderboards. But that's not all. Chapter Challenge works in pair with Ninja Cinema – a feature that records your gameplay and makes it a video clip which you can share with friend online (basically it works like this: you go to Chapter Challenge, you think you did really good and you want to show off to your buddies what a badass ninja you are. Then, one of your buddies goes “Pfft!”, and shows you his video, which is ten times more awesome than yours, which makes you want to kill yourself.)

Next in line we have the core gameplay additions, which come in the forms of new weapons, new enemies, and a shitload of mid-bosses you have to get through. I believe there are more than ten of those mid-bosses, three new bosses for the three bonus character missions, and a brand new boss in Ryu's main storyline, right in the first level. That's a lot of bosses. And a lot of fun, because encountering them changes the pace of the game entirely, and makes the whole experience even more intense. There are some more gameplay improvements in NGS2, but they're small and not worth mentioning, just know that the developers did everything they could to make this one play better than the original. And it does.

The bottom line is, if you liked Ninja Gaiden II, you should get NGS2 just for the added content and new features. The three new characters and the co-op mode are reason enough to play this game. The original Ninja Gaiden II was very close to excellence, but a couple of glitches kept it from being perfect. These glitches are not present in NGS2. That, and the added content make NGS2 a winner. It's definitely a must-have for action game fans. And Ninja Gaiden rookies should pick it up too, because of the improved accessibility. Chop chop, the game is a masterpiece.


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