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Ninja Gaiden 2 review

AT A GLANCE
  • Gory, slice and dice combat
  • Easy-access sub-menu
  • Punishing difficulty makes victory that much sweeter
  • Horrible camera that gets stuck behind things
  • Lousy level graphics don't jibe with pretty-looking gore
  • Punishing difficulty makes victory nigh-impossible

Ninja Gaiden 2 is the first game all over again, only faster and with a fancy new combat feature where you can hack off enemy limbs and execute elaborate finishing moves that differ from weapon to weapon. It’s every bit as hard as its predecessor and then some with two unlockable difficulty levels in addition to the two defaults. The only problem is that Ninja Gaiden 2 looks just like Ninja Gaiden Sigma on the PS3 with barely any improvement in graphics and no Rachel segments to switch things up. The gameplay is still ridiculously hard, take it or leave it (and most of us will leave it) and Ryu Hayabusa is still the baddest of badass ninjas out there. But something about Ninja Gaiden 2 just feels stale; and combined with some technical flaws, the game doesn’t really feel fun, even after you’ve mastered the combat system and resigned yourself to losing boss fights over and over again.

Like Xbox’s Ninja Gaiden (and its upgraded forms, Black and Sigma), Ninja Gaiden 2’s plot takes a backseat to the action. Some S&M chick named Elizebet is after an artifact that awakens/pisses off the Four Greater Fiends from the Underworld. The nefarious Spider Clan attacks the Hayabusa clan, who just so happens to guard said artifact. Combat ensues, stuff gets burned to the ground, and our main man super-ninja Ryu Hayabusa is once again out to destroy anyone dumb enough to get in his way as he goes after Elizebet and the stolen artifact. Oh, and there’s this busty chick named Sonia who looks like Rachel, but with a bad haircut - she rides a motorcycle and gets captured a lot.

The combat is the star of Ninja Gaiden 2 once you get the hang of it. All the old weapons and combos from the original are back in full force. Thanks to improvements in enemy behavior and physics, it’s so much more satisfying to splatter a guy’s skull all over the ceiling as you execute a flying attack that decapitates enemies. You can also sever limbs with the strong attacks and liberate pints of blood from torsos with the quick attacks. Wounded enemies will still keep coming, even after you’ve divorced them from half of their extremities - dragging themselves towards you a la Monty Python’s The Black Knight and sometimes flinging their (or their comrades’) body parts at you when they can’t reach.

The splatters of gore stick to the walls in most levels, rendering maps extraneous as you can tell where you’ve already been based on the blood. Even better, there’s a sub-menu from which you can select weapons, items or ninpo (ninja magic) using the D-pad instead of having to press start and then mash A over and over again. This new feature keeps combat from feeling interrupted as you frantically try and heal yourself during a savage onslaught of attacks.

Button mashing doesn’t pay off the way you might wish (especially when mobbed by 20 six-legged enemies in an enclosed space), but chances are a lot of hardcore gamers would be insulted if it did. In an effort to reach out to gamers alienated by the difficulty of the first game, Ninja Gaiden 2 features an “easier” difficulty setting called Path of the Acolyte. But, really, if you hated the cheap-ass bosses and staggeringly tough mob mechanics the last time around, it hasn’t gotten any better this time. If anything, it’s actually gotten worse.

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Tecmo, Team Ninja
Franchise: Ninja Gaiden
ESRB Rating:
Mature

9 comments

  • jimsondanet - October 30, 2008 1:36 p.m.

    well i played ng on the ps2 an yea dufficult as hell but the plus is that it forces you to become highly aware and focused on your surroundings and dosent allow for frantic mashing after havin it handed to me by numbchuck dude a few times i finally hit the zone and handed him his ass on silver platter and it felt awesome!!! almost had fat silver dude sorted but i was demoralized by a more linear an less spectacular tactics
  • TVC613 - October 7, 2008 8:25 p.m.

    This game doesn't deserve the negative comments most critics give it. People complain of it being to hard, but it's their fault that they either didn't look at reviews or ignored them. Ninja Gaiden has always been a hard series, but this is the first game where it completely effected the review.
  • Native-307 - November 7, 2008 2:22 a.m.

    yo dudes i dont care if your into any other kind of gamez but if you really want a challenge i mean if your up to the task and not a pussy critic getting mad you should get ninja gaiden deuce. one of the best ninja games ever. and note to the renjii dude ITS IMPOSSIBLE TO OUTRUN THE BLAST OF THE ARMADILLO instead of wasting a rebirth you just need to use a ninpo right b4 it explodes savez u a lot of essence. (that tip i found out was stupid cuz i wuz about to give up but i just pushed all the buttons and used a ninpo. i wuz suprised to see i was still alive)
  • renjii117 - September 23, 2008 3:15 a.m.

    i loved this game. didnt love the big robots that looked like they were out of an aliens movie (esspecialy when a bunch of guys with rockets were firing at me at the same time) and the armadillo made me laugh. after everything ive killed with ryu including the emporer i couldnt help but laugh in frustration everytime i couldnt outrun the blast
  • Ricochet3438 - September 15, 2009 9:15 p.m.

    you know I've never played this game, never plan on playing this game, and don't really care about what any of you no-life losers have 2 say about it
  • HellHound258 - September 4, 2009 9:54 p.m.

    So far this game has been the most difficult game on the Easy difficulty setting that I have ever played That Chapter 3 boss was frickin' ridiculous. Sure once you discovered his weakness, and best tactic against him, he fell down like a bag of potatoes, but god that was difficult. And those dogs were the most annoying characters short of Rocket Ninjas. And why the hell would anyone, that isn't hardcore to the max, want to play the missions in the Mission Mode on all 4 difficulties, It's hard enough as it is Anyway I would give this game a solid 8.5 because it is the only game that has given me a run for my money
  • FluffyDestructo - August 25, 2009 7:54 p.m.

    just a tip to anybody here who hasn't beaten the game already the way you avoide getting blown up by armadillos is by blocking... just hit block when it explodes adn you survive. But yeah i loved this game, but it was sooooo freakin hard. The master ninja difficulty is absolutly insane...
  • sofaku - April 15, 2009 10:52 p.m.

    its an awsome game as far as the levels go but i can't f***king stand the bosses. i acually would have given this a higher score despite the impossible bosses
  • dmaster225 - September 23, 2009 7:19 a.m.

    Ricochet3438, Then why did you bother on commenting here? Wouldn't that make you a no-life troll? I loved this game because I always like a challenge. I agree with TVC613, they should actually rate it higher because it takes more work to make an unpredictable AI.

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