Review by GodOfWarFanatic
"Greatest Hack 'N Slash since God of War II"
I have been a big fan of the Ninja Gaiden series, and by that, I mean the NES trilogy. So in this review, if I say "Original Ninja Gaiden," I'm talking about the original Ninja Gaiden, not the one on the Xbox. Now with that being said, I must admit that I have no previous experience with Ninja Gaiden (Xbox), Ninja Gaiden Black, or Sigma, just the originals. Well, even though Black is an upgraded version of Ninja Gaiden and Sigma is an upgraded version of Sigma, I still haven't played them. Why am I telling you this? I'm saying that I can't compare Ninja Gaiden II to the other three Ninja Gaidens. I can't say if it's the same as Ninja Gaiden, Black, or Sigma, or if it's different. But I can probably safely say, this one is different from the several reviews I've read. So basically, you can say I'm a "newcomer" or "noob" to the 3D versions of the series...which is true.
Ninja Gaiden II is I guess the sequel to Ninja Gaiden, as rightfully so which "2" in it. I was always getting confused to whether Black was a sequel to Ninja Gaiden I and if Sigma was a sequel to Black. My knowledge with it rose up and I can say that this is the definite sequel to Ninja Gaiden 1. It's also exclusive to the Xbox 360, which gives you bragging rights to Sony fanboys who will go to high lengths to prove that the PS3 is better. And no, I'm not a fanboy of any of the companies. Well this game is a definite reason to look into buying the 360, considering most of the "hit" games are multi-platform. I wouldn't buy one just for this game, but it just will give you more of a reason.
Now this is notorious for being rushed and hosts annoying glitches, wasn't play-tested much, etc. I unfortunately have to say...this is all true. You can tell it's rushed in later Chapters and the infamous "Chapter 10 glitch" will be sure to piss you off (For more knowledge on it, read the sticky in the messageboard). It does have it's fair share of flaws, but just like No More Heroes, the kickass gameplay practically saves it.
Unlike my other reviews, where I put the score of each section at the top, I will put it at the bottom and for some, I will give it an interesting "tagline" as opposed to the boring, simple words like "Graphics" for personal reasons. Well...the reason is, I think it looks cooler. I'm saying this because of the "dramatic" change in the way I write this, you may not think it's me, so I'm just saying it definitely is me. So let's move on.
Ah...generic Japanese Storyline. So, so awesome! Well before I get into the main storyline, I'm going to give you some back-story. This group called the "Archfiends" want to basically take over the world. Dragons come to save the day and the Archfiends lose the war against them, which locked them away. There is a bloodline called the "Dragon Lineage" who are suppose to keep the Archfiends locked up, like the Meji (or however it's spelt) from "The Mummy." Now part of the bloodline is a group called the "Hayabusa Ninja Clan" which stay true to their jobs, and surprisingly, *sarcasm*, owns many ancient artifacts, most of which if fallen into the wrong hands, hell will break loose (This is from the Ninja Gaiden II manual).
Now the main, generic Story. The said Archfiends consist of 5 powerful fiends. The main Archfiend, I mean how would you have a group if you didn't have the Archfiend who is supposedly immortal and eventually killed by a little human, am I right? Note: This is not a spoiler for two reasons: A) This is what happens in practically every story ike this and B) You can tell it from the beginning. Back to where I was. The Archfiend has four followers which are the greater fiends who are obviously not as powerful as their leader, or God in their terms. Of course, there is always an artifact protected by the good guy that will resurrect the bad guy, which in this case is the "Demon Statue." If you can't already guess, this is the object that locked the Archfiend and his kiss-ass followers away, but can resurrect them also. And who is this protected by? None other than the Hayabusa Ninja Clan.
Again, of course the Hayabusa Clan must have enemies who want to steal the artifact and resurrect the Archfiend and his kiss-ass followers. In this case, it's the Black Spider Ninja clan. They are really in a jealous rage since their not the best clan. The leader, Genshin, has vowed to destroy the Hayabusa Clan by any means possible. You know how? Correct! By resurrecting the Archfiend and his kiss-ass followers (sorry that I keep saying that) to destroy them.
All though the everything in this game that's relevant to the story is "generic," I still must say it's interesting enough to keep you entertained in that category. Which is specially surprising in this genre, a decent to good story.
The amazing graphics that are not so good (Yes, I'm aware that I contradicted myself)
Now the good. By first glance, the graphics are AMAZING with a capital A-M-A-Z-I-N-and G. Most notable is the rain effects which are incredibly realistic. The blood, all though not realistic (which isn't what Team Ninja/Tecmo were going for in the way how it spurts out) looks excellent, too. Probably the best looking blood in an action game, except the cutscenes in God of War.
Now the bad. For a current-gen game, I shouldn't see blood floating after you kill an enemy, or you going into the wall sometimes, or an enemy you killed being half-way into the wall. All though this hardly effects gameplay, it's still explains that it was rushed.
Now the ugly. There are noticeable frame drops that occur sometimes. Not frequently, but not sparingly either. Sometimes when you're just running around, after you save or heal, after a battle, etc. One thing I've noticed with frame drops is that I don't see any when you're in the midst of a battle. I do see it before it happens, like when the enemy is approaching, but not whilst it's happening. Maybe I'm just sucked in by the amazing combat and frame drops do happen in the midst of battles. But it can stay consistent.
So despite the explanations in both the "bad" and the "ugly" categories, the graphics truly look beautiful. It's just stunning.
Hacking a limb off has never sounded better Oh my GOD!! The sound. The sound is...ugh...too many positive adjectives to explain the sound. And no, I'm not talking about the background music or the voice-overs. I don't even pay attention to the background music and the voice-overs are decent, but nothing special. The sound that is stunning in which I'm talking about is the sound when you fight enemies. If you have played Dead Rising, you know what I'm talking about. Just hearing a sharp object going through the flesh of you enemy and hearing that sound is just so pleasant, especially the special moves (I'll explain later). Again, background music and voice-acting is not worth noting, the sound effects alone give sound a perfect score.
When good overpowers the bad The gameplay in Ninja Gaiden II is simply awesome, fast-paced, and awesome. But before we go go to the good, I'm going to say the bad stuff.
Instead of being difficulty, which is what the series is known for, this is really cheap. Mainly the dudes with rocket launchers, robots, and bosses. If you are a casual gamer, don't play this, you'll complain how it's too hard. It's not that hard, you just need strategetic common sense and learn to run and jump around. If you are a hardcore gamer who has anger issues, is bipolar (like myself), or frustration problems, be warned. You will always throw your controller at something, or squeeze it too hard (Which is what I did).
Another "issue" that too many people complain about is the camera. Now most of the time, you can most likely manage, it's not the best camera nor is it the worst. But when it becomes a major annoyance is when you're in small areas, areas with pillars, and the twin dragon boss fight. Other than that, I have no major issue with it.
I'm not going to put forth the effort to elaborate the other problems like the glitches, some boss fights, and how it sometimes feels like it wasn't tested by testers at all.
Alright the good. The first thing that comes to mind when you think about Ninja Gaiden II is the combat system. It is simply one of the greatest fighting systems I've ever seen in game. It is just so wild and sometimes you don't know what the hell is going on...it's THAT awesome. There are several combos to do with each weapon. The coolest thing about it though is when you chop off an enemies limb (it doesn't work with smaller creatures), you can press Y (when you're not doing a combo) and do a special move. It's a cinematic move that kills the enemy instantly, they look incredible and are very entertaining. It's mandatory to use them if you want to succeed battles. Even if you chop off an enemies head, if you press Y before they hit the ground, you can still do the special move. And yes, I know they're called "Obliteration Techniques," but I like the special moves title.
There are also attacks called "Ultimate Techniques." If you hold "Y," you can charge up and do a level 1 or 2 Ultimate Technique. It's hard to explain, but they are combos that are incredibly fast and can't be dodged. The best part? If you hit an enemy, you don't do anything else, just sit back and relax for a bit. Each weapon has I think 4 different Ultimate Techniques. For stronger enemies, it's not guaranteed to kill it, but for enemies like foot soldiers, it is. The worst part? You are vulnerable to get attacked whilst charging, but you can use essence (Explained later) to speed the process up.
The weapons, ah the weapons. There are several different weapons at your disposal. Each are unique in there own way, from extensive combos, to Ultimate techniques, etc and there is always going to be a favorite. There are balanced ones (like the Dragon Sword), fast ones (like the Falcon Talons), and strong ones (like the Eclipse Scythe). All though, in my opinion, if you master the Scythe, bosses will be a breeze to defeat. Each weapon has a different special move as said above. All which are cinematic, gory, and entertaining. There are also projectile weapons, like Shurikens to throw at long-distant enemies.
Alright, in the "Ultimate Technique" paragraph, I mentioned essence. There are three types. Yellow Essence which is used as currency to buy items and upgrade weapons, blue essence to restore partial health, and red essence to restore one Ki gauge, which is like magic. When charging for an Ultimate Technique, if there is essence around, you will absorb all the essence and it'll almost automatically have you enter the level 2 stage of it. The downfall is that they aren't worth their full value.
There is a guy named "Muramasa" and he is the shopkeeper, that overpriced bastard. He has a couple shops in the form of statues in each level and this is where you buy stuff. Like health and weapon upgrades, as mentioned before. I think if you haven't collected every weapon, he sells them to you later in the game or something. But for each weapon, you start at level one and you can upgrade them to level 3. For I think two weapons, there is a level 4 which happens late in the game and you can't buy it. Some of them, you can see changes in the look (Like the Falcons Talons and Lunar Staff), but for most, they look the same. Oh yeah, while I'm on it, you can permanently increase your health and Ki gauge and the strength of a Ninpo. For health, there are Life of the Gods and Life of a thousand Gods. For Life of the Gods, you need to collect 9 and it'll increase your maximum health. If you obtain the rare Life of a Thousand Gods, it'll increase your maximum health automatically. To get an extra Ki gauge, you need to obtain "Spirit of the Devils" and to increase the strength of a Ninpo art, you need to obtain "Jewel of the Demon Seal."
There are various amounts of enemies. Some that are incredibly annoying *cough*Wolfs*cough* and most that are fun to tear apart. There are also many boos battles. In some cases, they are cheap (Alexei, I'm looking at you) and in some cases, they are pretty easy, despite most of them looking intimidating. The battles are very fun and the different types of enemies mixes things up a little bit so it all doesn't feel the same.
The gameplay in this is excellent. There are bad things that are hosted in it, but just like the title of this section says, the good overpowers the bad. And like my No More Heroes analogy, the combat alone makes up most of it's flaws.
Final Rating: 9/10
Yes, I will admit, this game does feel a bit rushed. Sometimes, you wonder if it was even tested. But with the fast-paced and amazing combat, along with other things I haven't mentioned, this is a kick-ass, adrenaline-filled game. This is my most likely my second favorite Xbox 360 exclusive, behind Dead Rising, and this does not include ones that are on the 360 as well as the PC, but not the PS3. It alone is not worth buying a 360 for, but like I said, this is definitely good motivation to further your decision if you were planning on buying one.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/07/08
Game Release: Ninja Gaiden II (US, 06/03/08)
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