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Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 – hands-on

The way of the warrior, according to the first Ninja Gaiden Sigma, is to live in the moment, because you probably won’t be alive for very long. Treat every battle like it’s your last, because that end-of-level boss can kill you with a single punch. Failure is a state of mind. It isn’t the game’s fault you haven’t mastered it.

Playing Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 for the first time is slightly unnerving, because we expect to be slaughtered by the first group of assassins that come along, but we actually ended up turning them into a pile of dismembered limbs. It’s not as if their AI is any less intimidating. They still attack us as if we’d burned their house down with their mother inside. And once they’ve lost an arm, or both their legs, they still don’t give up. They launch themselves at us kamikaze-style, exploding as we try to shake them off.

No, the ferocity and intelligence is certainly still there. The big difference is that they no longer inflict astounding levels of damage with a single hit. We know that if we let these guys get the better of us, it could still be over quickly, but we’re not being unfairly punished for making a single mistake. Such was the way of Ninja Gaiden II on 360, which combined ruinous levels of damage with incredibly ruthless save points.

Most of the guys who made that game recently left the company. Team Ninja is now in the capable hands of Yosuke Hayashi, Director of Ninja Gaiden Sigma. Unfortunately, as we watch him play it, he seems to be really struggling with one of the early sub-bosses, a child-snatching winged demon. It’s probably just nerves. Hayashi-san does seem to understand how to balance a game much better than his predecessors though.

For example, a few simple adjustments have transformed the ranged weapons like the longbow and shuriken. They used to be fiddly and frustrating – in the time it would take to aim at an enemy, they’d usually already have killed us. Now, these weapons are auto-targeting at medium range. It’s extremely satisfying when we distract an archer with a hail of shuriken, buying us enough time to get in close enough to lop off his head.

There’s also a manual aiming system for sniping long-range foes. Holding down L2 puts us straight into the crosshair view with much greater expediency than the 360 version. It’s also now possible to strafe while in this view, making us less of a sitting duck. The most significant change though, is that the ranged weapons come with infinite ammo. Admittedly, that makes the new character Ayane’s exploding shuriken feel a little cheap, but at least it’s consistent with the rest of her over-the-top moves.

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5 comments

  • doomdoomdoom - September 4, 2009 12:42 a.m.

    Hope It is Very Bloody!
  • crumbdunky - September 3, 2009 9:55 a.m.

    I'm a big fan of the series and felt the last Sigma was a worthwhile exercise in itself and this seems even more so. The thing they didn't mention here was whether the camera(which along with, imo, silly levels of gore in the 360- original made seeing what you were doing impossible at some points)has been properly fixed but having seen a few previews that said it has means I'm not worried-though they really need to provide a patch for the camera on 360 seeing as they fixed it for this as it would opnly be fair but Tecmo's after rlease care is appalling. The 360 version was a little tough but made frustrating, for me, by the issues with the camera even if I still enjoyed it. Definitely getting this, though, as they appear to have added plenty while righting a couple of wrongs too. I know I'm possibly alone on the gore but I really did find it too OTT in NG2(to the point it became a negative distraction at times)and hope it won't put people off. I would like to have been told if there's a couple of difficulty levels unlocked from the start however, as veterans might find it a bit dull if the normal diff is too easy. Have to admit, though, that it looks a bit cleaner and sharper than before like NGS managed so I'm looking forward to revisiting this.
  • sovtek37 - September 16, 2009 6:18 p.m.

    They had me at "ridiculously whopping breasts".
  • FrontLineSpartan119 - September 6, 2009 12:54 a.m.

    I hate this. I hate when companies feel like they have to make exclusive sequels with added content no other system will get. "Buy this and get this stuff you could only get on the 360. Only the PS3 could support this content!" I'm tired of this. Granted, I'm sure this game installment of Ninja Gaiden is good, but it's just pathetic. Team Ninja would gain a bunch more profit if they made more content than just new costumes for the 360. Or making a sequel to a recycled game basis. It's up to them. They call the shots. And I'm only one person.
  • norid - September 2, 2009 10:48 p.m.

    i am on the boarder of wether or not to get this. Altough 4 stories does add longer play time

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