One of the best action/adventure games ever now for PS3.
The Bad: Rachel's missions could have been lengthier and more robust, not all changes are necessarily for the better, some signs of age, missing unlockables, bad and unnecessary use of the Sixasis motion controls, doesn't come at a reduced price.
To quickly sum up the story of this game you play as master ninja Ryu Hayabusa on a quest for revenge after an evil blade has been stolen from your precious home village along with witnessing some of your fellow clan members being slain or burned alive. During your quest you will not only face ninjas, but also military soldiers and even things not so human such as demons and dragons.
That's pretty much all you need to know and the story is both told using CGI and cutscenes using the in-game engine. Before the CGI helped to present the story rather well and they still do. The problem is that they have not have not been remastered to fit with the higher resolution this game is rendered at, so there are times when the in-game stuff actually looks better than the CGI and in the original it was the complete opposite.
The gameplay remains pretty much the same which certainly isn't a bad thing as there wasn't much room for improvement to begin with. There is one unnecessary addition though where you have to shake the sixasis controller to increase the power of your ninja magic attack, it feels bizarre and rarely works.
The combat in this game requires split-second timing and button mashing won't get you very far. Yes if you haven't heard this is a challenging game that requires a lot of investment and skill to succeed even though it's very easy to learn the basics.
The original was almost too hard for some, the very first level for example was actually on the hardest levels in the game and the same holds true here unfortunately but there have been some minor tweaks made to make things a little easier. For example the save points are now a bit more evenly spread out. The bow which you will get to wield later on can now be fired in mid-air which will prove very useful in some of the later chapters. Some frustrating puzzles have been remade or completely removed. A few of the puzzles I really liked though as they provided a nice change of pace and are now in this game often replaced by another combat section or maybe even a new bossfight. While the combat and the bossfights are some of the major highlights of Ninja Gaiden you need a brake from that too once in a while.
Too take the focus back on the difficulty again the easier mode called Ninja Dog which was added in Ninja Gaiden Black for the Xbox is here as well but you need to die multiple times early on to unlock it and if you choose to play on the easy mode you will be forced to wear a feminine pink ribbon accessory through the rest of the game.
The added weapon called Dragon's Claw & Tiger's Fang which are dual katanas also removes some difficulty because that weapon encourages you too stay on the offensive more even though that weapon doesn't have all too many moves for you to experiment with. You can also now run on water much more easily by simply walking out on the surface and keep moving, many who played the original didn't even know you could run on water.
The original game for the Xbox was one of the very best looking games of it's generation and this version looks even better. Especially the lightning which makes everything look a bit more dynamic and realistic but there also tends to be some overuse of bloom effects once in a while. Most of the textures have been improved aswell, the animations are slicker than ever and blood that has been spilt will now stay on the ground and walls.
The graphics tend to be uneven though and you can tell that this game wasn't built for the Playstation 3 from the ground up as you will run into some very blury textures once in a while and some edges tends to look very jagged.
There are even cases where the game can actually look worse as there are some effects missing such as reflections, god rays from the sun and after-images from Ryu after very fast movement and the water surfaces can even look downright horrible.
There are also some performance issues where the game might load when you open an items chest or even during in the middle of a fight which didn't happen in the original but at least the levels themselves loads faster, and yes these issues are still there after the optional installation you can do but thankfully this is something that happens very rarely.
Don't get me wrong though the game looks great but considering how much powerful the Playstation 3 is compared the Xbox I expected a little bit more from Team Ninja.
The sound and sound effects are pretty much the same and that isn't a bad thing as the sound was very good to begin with. There has been some additional musical scores added though which is much appreciated.
As far as value goes the game is highly replayable, especially if you bump up the difficulty as that will change many of your encounters during the story mode. There is also a Mission Mode unlocked after you beat the game but be warned though, these missions can be pretty tough. There are also some new bossfights here not found in the original and Rachel has some missions in Mission Mode too.
For fans that have already played trough the original the most interesting addition is probably that you can now play as female character Rachel aside from the few new boss encounters and missions. She plays great but also a lot different from Ryu as she is a bit slower but often deals out more damage.
The problem is here though is that her missions tends to be very short and not really too well structured.
And while her campaign adds a different perspective of the story that is appreciated some other parts of the story has gone missing as for example the introduction sequence telling the story about the Dragon Sword and the Dark Dragon Blade. There is a sequence that is still there but can be totally missed as that level has been restructured so that you might progress a bit to fast which leads to that a certain upgrade that Ryu gets towards the end of the game might just seem totally random.
There are also some unlockables missing such as some costumes and the classic Ninja Gaiden NES titles or the Arcade game are nowhere to be found. The Theatre mode is missing aswell.
What hurts the value the most is that they expect you to pay full price for this game which would have been ok if the game would have been more different and packed in some more features but then again Ninja Gaiden Black that contained a fair amount of new content was sold for just 30 dollars when it was released back in 2005.
To sum it all up, even though this is originally a game from 2004 and not all changes are for the better this game holds up surprisingly well and is a must buy for anyone that has yet to experience this adventure or are just looking for a challenging action game in general. Old fans should give this a look too as there is some nice extra additions the be found here, but I would advice you if you're one of those to wait for the price to drop a little first.