Review by hmk10208

"Tomonobu Itagaki has evolutionized the action genre of gaming."

Welcome to my review of Ninja Gaiden II for the Xbox 360. The Ninja Gaiden series has been around since March, 1989. As time elapsed, the series has developed quite drastically. Thanks to Tomonobu Itagaki and Team Ninja, the series was revived in 2004 with the release of Ninja Gaiden (Xbox). Now, four years later, Itagaki has released a true next gen sequel to the original Ninja Gaiden.

[SPOILER WARNING]

PRESENTATION:

From the title screen, to the scenes and menus, this game is presented wonderfully. Each menu has it's own eye catching material. The title screen is what impressed me the most. Swords carved into the ground alongside of thick blades of grass moving with the wind. In the Ninja Gaiden II logo, you will see that the II/2 is written in blood. The logo seems very parallel to an already bloody game. You will given the chance to choose from 5 difficulty levels. Each difficulty level is unique in it's own way.

STORY:

Similar to any other Ninja Gaiden, this game also focuses less on the story aspect. You are Ryu Hayabusa, the worlds strongest ninja. Sonia, a CIA agent informs you on the resurrection of the Archfiend. The Demon Statue, located and protected in the Hayabusa Ninja Village is the only item that can trigger the resurrection of the Archfiend. Ryu heads to his village, only to find out that Elizebet and Genshin, leader of the Black Spider Clan, have stolen the Demon Statue. Ryu must follow Elizebet and Genshin in order to prevent the resurrection of the Archfiend. Ninja Gaiden II contains a straight forward story of revenge.

GRAPHICS:

The graphics of this game are truly next gen. Ryu Hayabusa's sprite is stunning and exceptionally smooth. The game's levels are nice (with the exception of the green level). Each and every level has an original feel to it, making the game feel unique. The textures and coloring are very well done and seem parallel to the earth's environment. The enemies and bosses look spectacular with immense design and creativity. Weapons, Ninpo, Attacks, Obliteration Techniques, Ultimate Techniques, and blood look fantstic. The scenes of this game are also sole and fluid. Chapter 11 is what really brings out the WOW in Ninja Gaiden fans. The redesign of Ninja Gaiden's first level is stunning and nostalgic. This level really shows how much the game has upgraded in terms of graphics. Each Sometimes, you will notice a few splashes of blood floating, a body in between walls or some frame-rate droppage. These are minor set-backs to a game with great graphics. Once you have defeated every enemy in the area, take out your weapon and stand still. Ryu will shake the blood off of your weapon. Each weapon has it's own unique way to take off the blood. This is quite appealing to the human eye. Overall, this game is visually beautiful.

GAMEPLAY:

Ahhhhhh, this is where the game shines. The Ninja Gaiden series has been known for it's outstanding gameplay. You must control Ryu Hayabusa who can utilize many different melee and projectile weapons, including Ninpo, to destroy his foe. The melee weapons can be used with the X and Y buttons. Mixing these two buttons up can create lots of chains for better damage. Projectiles are executed with the B button. Ninpo can be used by pressing both the Y and B buttons simultaneously. Ryu Hayabusa can use many acrobatic moves to reach unimaginable places and platforms. You must use these moves effectively in order to take the path of the ninja. You will gain three different types of essences to support you on your way. Yellow essence can be used to buy items and to upgrade your weapons in Muramasa's Shop. Blue essence replenishes life, while red essence replenished Ninpo. Ultimate attacks are moves executed by holding down the Y button. There are two levels to this attack. The more you hold down the Y button, the stronger the attack. You may suck in essence in order to increase your charging speed. Every weapon contains his own respective UT's. A new aspect introduced in this game are the Obliteration Techniques. When a limb has been removed of an enemy. Approach him and press Y in order to finish him off. These attacks kill your enemy instantly.

Enemies without limbs are much more dangerous. They will either suicide bomb you or slash you, inflicting MAJOR damage. OT them before they use these moves in order to prevent your self from getting owned. OT's and UT's give you bonus yellow essence. They will never give you a blue or red essence. Each projectile (Except the Shurikens) can be charged by holding B. They will count as a UT kill and give you bonus yellow essence. Also, this time around, there are less jumping and platforming situations. It's 100% action. You will be given a fair number of items to use along the way. Herb of Spiritual Life will restore a small amount of life. Grains of Spiritual Life will restore moderate amount of life. Obtain 9 Life of the Gods and your maximum life will increase. Obtain a single Life of the Thousand Gods and your maximum life will also increase. Jewel of the Demon Seal will increase your Ninpo level by 1. Spirit of the Devil will increase your maximum ki limit. Devil Way Mushroom will restore one of your Ninpo. Talisman of Rebirth will revive you with full life and Ki. Each weapon and Ninpo contain 3 or 4 Levels. For a weapon, the higher the level, the stronger the weapon and higher variety of moves. For a Ninpo, the higher the level, the stronger the Ninpo. There will also be Test of Valor's in different areas. Defeat the enemies in these in order to earn special prizes. The Test of Valor's cannot be accessed without the Rod of Trials. You may obtain the Rod of Trails in Chapter II. Save Points play a major role in this game. They will recover your life completely and save for you. You may save as much as you want, but you can save only once.

Muramasa sells items and weapon upgrades. Some missed weapons can be purchased from Muramasa. You can only access the Save Point and Muramasa when no enemies are around. Once you have completed the game, you may start a New Game+ ONLY on the difficulty you have beaten the game previously on. You will have the same Life, Ninpo, Ki, and Weapons as your previous file. A new life system was also invented. Once damaged, you will be able to see a black bar inside your health gauge. After you have destroyed all the enemies in the specific area, or you have escaped successfully, that black bar will recover. This aspect makes the game much more forgiving. The only problem I see with the gameplay is the camera. The camera will mess up in the corners or behind doors, causing many problems. There is a solution to this problem. The RT button will fix the camera and set it to Ryu's line of view. A problem, but can be solved with a little practice.

MUSIC/AUDIO:

Starting from the title to screen to the credits, this game's score is catchy and effective. Each theme really suits the environment and situation creating a entertaining mood. In castles or villages, the music will be tranquil. During boss fights and enemy situations, the score will be loud and hasty. You will be given the option to select either Japanese or English voices. Personally, I despise the English voices. The Japanese voices of this game are very well done. If you ave played with Hayabusa in Dead or Alive 2-4, you will recognize this voice actor. The sounds of weapons are amazing. Each weapon has it's own sound. The enemy voices and groans are very well done. For example, if an enemy burns, he will scream to death.

DIFFICULTY:

I though this topic, deserved it's own section. I have seen and heard many people complain about the difficulty. People also underrate and judge the whole game due to the difficulty. I will explain the difficulty levels briefly. Acolyte is Normal Mode. Warrior is Hard Mode. Mentor is Very Hard Mode. Master Ninja Mode is MNM. Despite the variety of difficulty levels, people still continue complaining. Start the game on Acoyte and move on to each difficulty gradually. Though the transition between warrior-mentor and mentor-master ninja is quite big. That can be solved with some practice and 2-3 runs in each difficulty.

EXTRAS/CONTENT:

Completing the game on each difficulty allows you to obtain a new color for Ryu Hayabusa. Each difficulty also contains new enemies at different areas an such. Ninja Cinema allows you to record your playing and upload it online creating lots of depth. Downlodable content includes Mission Mode and 3 different costumes. Single weapon runs are unique but require mastery of the weapon in every situation. As I have said before, the option to choose from either the Japanese and English voices is a plus. You can also obtain 30 Crystal Skulls hidden throughout the game in order to gain achievements and unlock a gamer pic of a skull. There are two ways to save. Auto Save will immediately overwrite your previous file, while Manual Save allows you to save in a whoopin 20 slots. This game should keep you busy for quite some time.

OVERALL:

This game is a must buy if your an action gamer. Never has there been an action game so deep and innovative. Tomonobu Itagaki has created a masterpiece when it comes to gaming. A huge thanks to him for giving us something to spend time and master. All I can say, is that it you like the ninja gaiden series (or even if you don't), I recommend checking this game out.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/04/08, Updated 09/01/08

Game Release: Ninja Gaiden II (US, 06/03/08)


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