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Lush 1080p visuals aside, there's nothing new here. It's a third-person action game with fixed cameras, environmental puzzles and fighting in between. Think Onimusha, Genji or Resident Evil. But what makes Ninja Gaiden interesting is how polished it is. Specifically the fighting which is taut, slick and muscular; the kind of thing you'd expect to see in a beat-'em-up.
This is thanks to the involvement of eccentric lead designer Tomonobu Itagaki, the man behind the notoriously fast-paced and complex Dead or Alive series. Hero Ryu Hayabusa has a wealth of moves at his disposal and learning to use all of them is an epic undertaking, even for experienced gamers.
The game, originally released on Xbox, is famed for its harsh difficulty curve. It demands intense concentration and the sharp reflexes of an actual ninja. Fights with regular enemies can be as hard as boss battles, and that's only on "normal." It is, however, never unfair. The engine is so robust that if you die, it's entirely you and your reactions' fault. Well, sometimes it's the camera's. It's not perfect - as our hands-on experience attests - and you'll find yourself fighting off-screen for more than a few seconds, which is disorientating and an annoyance. But it's a rare occurrence.
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