By now you should all know the story behind Ninja Gaiden Sigma on PS3. You should know that it's a remake of one of the best games on Microsoft's big black box. You should know that tons of new stuff has been added and you should also be aware that it's all been wrapped up in bright sparkling HD graphics that only PS3 can do. If you liked the idea of Genji: Days of the Blade but were disappointed that the game sucked, we guarantee that Sigma will plug that gap.
As well as a complete graphical overhaul, Tecmo has included Rachel as a playable character. Previously you only got to drool over her in cutscenes, but in Sigma she plays a side-quest besides the main one with Ryu. In terms of new stuff for the PS3 version, the addition of Rachel the Fiend Hunter in playable form is by far the biggest draw. Her quest to find her sister is intertwined with the main adventure. So you'll do a few levels as Ryu then skip over to Rachel's part in the adventure. Sweet.
What sets Ninja Gaiden apart from other third-person games is its intense combat system. Many of those Xbox people moaned and groaned that it was just too hard and as a result a lot of players lost interest and put the pad down a few levels in. If they’d had any patience at all they would have realized the combat system requires you to know what you’re doing. Randomly hammering buttons will only get you killed. God of War II, this isn’t.
The key to Sigma’s combat is in blocking, moving around the environment and picking the right moment to strike. R1 is block and you’ll to get to know that button really well - it’ll quickly become your best friend. A good rule of thumb is to have R1 pressed whenever you’re not attacking. That way, any new incoming strikes - that you might not have even seen - can be parried giving you a split-second to counter. Ryu can swipe enemies into the air (a bit like Kratos) and this is where he’s most effective.
The AI of the enemy is impressive and it’ll take every opportunity to cut you down. Swipe an enemy upwards, perform a quick mid-air combo and then finish by plunging your sword into their bellies as they fall to the ground. Using the environment also helps you too. Ryu can run along walls giving him extra momentum to strike much harder. He can even hop off walls and perform an almighty downward slice that’ll become your second-best friend.
Remember these basic rules of combat and you’ll go far. Well, a lot further than those crybaby Xbox monkeys. But if you suck at games, Sigma will ask if you want to abandon the way of the ninja after you’ve died in the same place more than a few times. Hit yes and the difficulty steps down a notch, but only after a quick cutscene that takes the piss out of you.
Your cash comes from collecting the yellow, blue and red orbs dead bodies release. As you upgrade your weapon, more combos and techniques are unlocked for you to master. This goes for all the game’s many different weapons, which include everything from nunchucks to spears to warhammers and throwing stars. There’s plenty to choose from. Gameplay is fairly linear throughout the course of the entire game - which is absolutely massive. For the most part, it’s action all the way, with you having to collect the odd key, place a special item in a special place, as well as defeat a boss to progress to new areas.
Several new sections have been built into the PS3 version of Sigma. Unfortunately you can spot them a mile off because they look so much better than the rest of the game. The burning village at the end of the second level is the first example. It’s small, but full of incredible heat-haze, smoke plumes and PS3-specific lighting effects. Some of the levels do look a bit clean and empty, especially Tairon City, which would get awards for being the cleanest city on the world.
A tip of the hat has to go some of the boss characters you fight. As you get closer to the end, the bosses become more ludicrous in size and design. Giant worms, flying fiend-women, re-animated dinosaur skeletons, octopus-tentacle beasts and Hell’s hardest dragons all await you. Stick with it long enough and you’ll be presented with one of the biggest challenges in your gaming career. Before hopping over to another dimension, you have to prove yourself by beating a handful of massive bosses one after the other.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma is an action game like no other. There are similarities with the awesome God of War II, but if you consider that epic as an arcade experience, then Sigma falls somewhere in-between arcade and sim. Getting your head around the combat is key to having a good time. Once mastered, you'll find an immersive action romp full of original challenges, incredible environments and interesting characters. This game might have been around for years, but the intensity of the gameplay has yet to be bettered.