Review by Gurwain

"Ferocious, intense and deadly."

Ninja Gaiden was the first Ninja Gaiden to be released in 3-D for the Xbox, quickly becoming one of the best games available on the console. Now, Ninja Gaiden II has been released for the Xbox360, a lot of people have been clawing to get a copy and give it a go. Here is my review.

I will be reviewing it in the following categories, from one to ten.
One being very poor and ten being perfect.

-Story
-Gameplay
-Graphics
-Sound
-Replayability

And will then finish with Pro's&Con's and Rent/Buy.

Story 6
The story begins in Tokyo. A busty blond walks into Muramasa's in search of the Master Ninja, Ryu Hayabusa. There is an evil entity named the Archfiend being resurrected by a woman using an artifact called the Demon Statue. As Ryu, you must strike down the Archfiends minions, taking you one step closer to the Archfiend himself.

The story itself becomes wholeheartedly non-existent during the course of the game due to the fact that the game relies heavily upon fast and furious combat, but its there nonetheless.

Overall: The story is best left forgotten. Its mostly just a setting for some awesome ninja action.

Gameplay - 7
I would just like to say, that this game is NOT for casual gamers. If you are a casual gamer, and you find yourself in your local video game store, avoid this game at all costs. A lot of people tend to find the difficulty of this game, overpowering.

The gameplay contains minor strategic platforming, such as wall-running and jumping, along with major combat influences.
Combat in the game is incredibly fast and very fluid, making the game heart-racing and exciting, and it stays different with the variety of weapons throughout the course of the game. Though this does turn off a few gamers, especially the ones that prefer slower games that allow you to take your time.
A few things new to the original Ninja Gaiden, is dismemberment. Your weapons have the ability to dismember all enemies, and once they have a limb missing, you can set them up for a new move called the "Obliteration Technique" which essentially is a finisher that rips your enemies to shreds according to which weapon you're using.
Also the "Ultimate Technique" that is an unblockable array of attacks that Ryu unleashes upon enemies, often clearing an entire room.
The Ultimate Technique is enabled in two ways: One, you charge your attack by holding down the heavy attack button. Or two, you hold down the heavy attack button and you draw in the essence surrounding you, enabling you to charge it faster.

Another new system in the game is auto-health regeneration, where you regain your health at the end of combat, but your health is slowly taken down by damage and becomes unhealable after combat, unless you use a healing item or gain Blue essence.

Essence makes a comeback in this game with the usual, yellow is currency, used in upgrading weapons and buying items. Blue is health, restoring your HP gauge. And red, restoring your Ki gauge.

Difficulty is sometimes an issue raised when talking about Ninja Gaiden. Its not the; "There's a way around it if you tread carefully" sort of difficulty, its the incredibly cheap difficulty that contains unblockable attacks, throws and projectiles. Most of which come from off-screen where you're unable to actually see it coming.
There are even enemies that don't flinch when taking damage, they just shrug off your attacks and continue their own little combo. Sometimes there are some enemies attacks that can't be countered and the only way to get back at them is to actually take a hit.
Later in the game, enemies get firearms, then eventually have Rocket Launchers, which makes gameplay incredibly frustrating and unfair, as you're trying to fend off attacks from the melee attackers, two rocket launcher opponents are firing at you.
Also, when Ryu is under machine gun fire, he becomes immobile and starts to have some sort of fit, the only way out of it is to dodge to one side, which seems weird if you can't even move or attack in the first place.

Overall: The gameplay is fast, fluid and exciting. But only if you can handle the cheap attacks and off-screen barrages.

Graphics - 7
I might be bold to say, that the graphics are not that bad. Though sometimes it feels it shouldn't have been taken off the Xbox. It doesn't fully utilize the 360's graphical capabilities.
The game itself runs at about 60 frames per second, but there can be some slowdown in the game when there are multiple enemies onscreen at the same time, especially since the bodies don't disappear, and dismembered limbs lay about on the floor, along with the blood and gore on the floors and walls.
There are some great effects made with the game, it looks flashy and eye-searing. Its quite eye-pleasing to play.

Overall: It looks great, but its mostly textured areas just glossed over. It could have been better.

Sound - 8
The sounds in this game are brilliant. The sound of a sword singing through the air is spot on. Also the noise that is made when you dismember a person and the sound of the blood pouring from his stump is breathtakingly brutal. Along with their cries of pain and grunts as they swing their weapons and dash around you.

Overall: Sounds are top notch, but sometimes they are hardly noticeable.

Replayability - 5
After completing Ninja Gaiden on the easiest difficulty, a lot of people would cry at the fact that there is a harder difficulty awaiting them. But after completing it, it unlocks other difficulty levels for you to try.

Also, a lot of people overlook the Ninja Cinema feature, that enables you to record your feats as a ninja. Be it a cool looking move, or just wanting to show someone how a level is done.

Overall: There isn't really much replayability in Ninja Gaiden, some people may go on to play it for achievements.

Story - 6/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 8/10
Replayability - 5/10

Overall - 7/10

Pro's
- Fast, fluid, addictive combat.
- Great looking textures.
- Lots of gore/blood.
- Plenty of weapons.
- Great sounds.

Con's
- VERY steep learning curve.
- Somewhat difficult gameplay for people that aren't used to the genre.
- A lot of button mashing.
- Cheap, off-screen attacks.
- Story could have used a bit more work.

Rent or Buy?
If you enjoyed the original, then you will absolutely adore this game. Buy without a doubt in your mind.
If you're a bit shaky about making a purchase, then by all means, rent the game and see what you think.

Thank you very much for reading my very first review!


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 07/20/09

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


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