Xbox 360 owners have been enjoying Ninja Gaiden 2 for a whole year already and until now PS3 owners have had to settle for their 'Sigma' version of the first game for their ninja killing fix. Finally an updated version of NG2 is heading to the Sony machine, but while it's bigger and better in almost every respect, there's one thing that's certainly not. Gore.
Play the PS3 version after the Xbox one and you'll notice a distinct drop in the amount of blood spilled during fights. Not only does the floor look spattered rather than drenched, beheadings now feature a blue magical glow in place of the claret shoulder fountain of before. Check out this video and see the difference for yourself:
Odd, isn't it? Especially considering all the ultra-violent beheadings, dismemberment and impaled bodies are all still present. With brutal killing such an integral part of the game, this is still clearly 18-rated, so why the pussyfooting? We asked the game's director and producer Yosuke Hayashi, who told us (through a translator) that the censorship was deliberate:
"Each game has its own concept and with Ninja Gaiden 2, the focus was on extreme violence. But with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, we really questioned whether violence is a necessity for a game, so we decided to move away from that trend. So the violence 'approach' is not the way we approached the development of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. Being able to unlock higher levels of gore would be out of kilter with the concept of the game."
But let's look past the blood. The game is essentially about killing with style and it certainly has plenty of that. Characters dart around the screen at inhuman speeds, dancing away from projectiles and spinning around in a blur of blades, bruises and breasts.
Breasts? Yup, that's right. While Ryu Hayabusa's story is still the meat of the game here (no pun intended), PS3 gamers get a whole host of new girls to play with, each with their own sub-story.
Rachel returns from the first Ninja Gaiden Sigma with her S&M-style leather outfit, but adding a more dainty, feminine touch is Dead or Alive favourite Ayane making a return appearance in the series. She's more top-heavy than ever but still moves like some kind of lethal ballet dancer stuck on fast forward.
Then there's new girl Momiji. DS owners may remember her from Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword but she's never been rendered in glorious HD before. Hayashi told us that there's always the possibility that new characters will make their way across to other Team Ninja IPs, so here's hoping she appears in Dead or Alive 5. And our Sexy Fan Art gallery too. Feel free to get on that…
Some moves only become accessible to you after you've injured an enemy, which is also when they're often at their most dangerous. Lop off a leg and they'll crawl towards you, in scenes eerily reminiscent of the Black Knight from Monty Python.
Hit triangle and you can put him out of his misery with a devastating finishing move. There are also magic attacks and charged combos unique to each character, both of which you can see in Momiji's video above, and they certainly add some welcome variety to the hack 'n' slash gameplay.
The game has benefited from the extra time and Hayashi says he's certain that this is Team Ninja's best game yet. He's had time to tweak the camera, which now features a 'reset to centre' button, mapped to R1. It still gets caught behind things every now and then, but at least the option's there to sort that with one button press now.