Review by Kikelingygler
"...And that's what I call REAL Ultimate Power!"
Those not familiar with the 100% accurate website about ninjas detailing how awesome they are probably don't know what that means. But rest assured, Ninja Gaiden II is (almost) every bit as awesome as ninjas are. You'll see sweet weapons, awesome blood effects, body parts getting lopped off, incredible graphics, you may recognize some levels if you were among the few who played the DS game, and you will wonder when the developers will make the decision on what system they're making their games for. Before I get on to the actual review, I'd like to make one more note:
This game will make you crap your pants.
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Graphics are considered by some to be completely irrelevant. I used to think I was one of those people, but I'm not, and this game does not disappoint. Rain effects, blood effects, level design...I don't think there was a single thing that was under my expectations. Body parts fly, blood splatters, and you will even occasionally see Ryu shake the blood off of his weapon (the weapons also look awesome). Even the enemies are sweet; they don't just act normal when you remove a limb, they start crawling and even using their other arm, just as menacingly as before. Everyone moves as humanly as possible, and, I suppose if you fancy that sort of thing, the breast physics on the particularly well endowed women also got included. I think if they had made the way Ryu moves and fights look any cooler, my head would explode. After-images, teleporting, setting people on fire...you name it, it doesn't just look pleasing to the eye, it looks awesome/sweet/dope/cool/whatever, you get the point (probably).
I'm not big on sound in video games. The music doesn't overpower, and it's not non-existent. Sort of like other games I liked, like Morrowind, the music is there to be music, no more, no less. It sets the mood and it fits the game. Sword clashes sound like sword clashes, flipping jumps sound like flipping jumps, and best of all, a ninja being brutally slaughtered sounds like a ninja being brutally slaughtered. Extra points go to the first person who can guess which adjective I almost used there.
The story makes a lot of sense, and so far it has performed exactly as I wanted it to. It makes itself known and then it lets me fight. (As opposed to interrupting me every five minutes, but I won't get myself started about that...) Basically, the villains are trying to bring in something called the Great Fiend (fiends are basically the monsters of Ninja Gaiden), which I'm assuming would be a pretty bad thing for Earth and its inhabitants. From certain dialog, I'm pretty sure that plot twists, which I love, are coming at some point, and that you can't instantly tell everything about a character by looking at them. In other words, it's looking like it's going to hit the spot.
Ah, gameplay. The soul of the game. This game and its three predecessors have been described as "hard", "too hard", "way too hard", "too ****ing hard", and on occasion "difficult". Part of the game's grace is that it starts at a reasonable difficulty, and then goes up. And up. And up. And then you get to Master Ninja difficulty and it keeps going up. It requires skill, reflexes, and an understanding of how your moves work. In this sequel, the game tells you how to do the really cool things like Ultimate Techniques and informs you of the benefits of doing them instead of just expecting you to figure it out on your own/read the instruction booklet. There are loads upon loads of different moves and combos for the weapons, which all handle differently. Apparently, there are even achievements for playing through the entire game using only one weapon. You also end up learning the enemies and what they're capable of; excessive blocking is usually not the best choice. Enemies change behaviors after being relieved of a limb, often resorting to kamikaze attacks which are especially damaging, though they are equally easy to kill (in some of the most awesome ways possible). They will resort to different attacks depending on what's going on (like throwing you when you block too much, having the intelligence to switch to a melee weapon when you start closing in on them, etc.) This game has something too many games are forgetting: BOSSES. Hard bosses. Bosses so big that they don't fit on screen. Bosses that are really fun. I haven't been so happy about bosses since Shadow of the Colossus came out, and that game is literally ONLY bosses. Overall, really, really fun.
This is probably the biggest breath of fresh air in the way of good games that I have had in a while. This game literally oozes fun, it's so awesome that your TV will explode and ninjas will jump out of your eyelids.
Final Recommendation: BUY. If you're not big on ninjas or single player run-to-the-end-of-the-level-and-kill-everything games, or find that you finish games really fast and have no desire to ever play them again (I mean, this game has replay value, but not like Dynasty Warriors style replay value where you accidentally realize you've played it 10 times in a row), you may want to rent first and try it out. But if you want to flip out and kill things for extended periods of time, through an old school style platformer/beat-em-up, this is the game for you.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/06/08
Game Release: Ninja Gaiden II (US, 06/03/08)
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