Review by TheKiller7

Reviewed: 06/09/08

Bigger, Badder, Bloodier and Better.

Well it’s finally here. The game that a lot of action fans and Ninja Gaiden fans in particular have been awaiting. After a re-release a port and a Nintendo DS game finally Ninja Gaiden gets a proper sequel!! For those of you who do not know you play as Ryu Hayabusa a descendent of the dragon lineage. Simply put…. You’re a bad-ass ninja with a bigger variety of cutlery than a five star chef. The first ninja gaiden was one of the best original Xbox games and in many peoples eyes the premier action franchise of last generation. The sequel improves on most of what the original gave us and then adds a little bit more.

The first thing your going to instantly notice is that this time the graphics are very much upgraded. Thing is while the graphics are nice they just don’t have the shock factor that the original game did for its time. Although by far this is the best looking team ninja game to date. In the previous game most of the action revolved around the capital city of the Vigor Empire and its surroundings. And while you did go to a few different locations you basically stayed within the confines of the vigor empire the whole time. This time however Ryu is taking a world tour of sorts. From neo-Tokyo levels to New York to even a rainforest in South Africa the locales are very varied and for the most part very stunning and interesting to play in. For fans of the previous game there are even returns to a few familiar spots which as a ninja gaiden fan me I found very cool.

The other visual thing that pops out as soon as you play this is the blood and gore. In the previous game a decapitation was about as much in the gore department that you got however not this time as you fight enemies will be chopped into piece after piece turning the beautiful vistas that you fight in into a blood soaked crime-scene. And the gore isn’t just for visual flair either it serves two main purposes. The first reason is the enemy AI changes once you lop off a leg or an arm the enemy AI will become much more aggressive and even turn themselves into a martyr as they have nothing to lose. The second reason is now you can to Obliteration attacks which are a quick and stylish way of taking down enemies with a short series of very lethal blows.

The presentation of the game is very much improved since the last version. Now instead of going into the menu to switch weapons you can bring up a shortcut menu to access items , weapons, ninpo and ranged weapons thus keeping you in the action at all times. Even if you do have to travel into the menus its not a huge hassle as the menus in ninja gaiden 2 are much more streamlined and easier to navigate.

The game play itself is very fast paced and very violent and furious. This is a game about split second timing and precision with your weapons. And being as fast paced as the game is it has been very notorious for being a finger blistering controller busting game. And this issue has been addressed in both ways. First off the Acolyte difficulty is for newer players to the franchise although even at the easiest setting ninja gaiden 2 will pose a significant challenge especially if you’re not acquainted with ninja gaiden’s style of game play. On the other end of the spectrum there is Path of the Mentor and Master Ninja Mode these modes are the most insane devices of torture ever made by man. These modes are for the hardcore only.

Being a difficult game you need the controls to respond to you very quickly and smoothly. And this is one of the games high points as the controls on this game are very very smooth and Ryu controls with great ease. The one downfall of the series at least to a lot of people was the camera now while the camera may get in your way occasionally but nothing that is game breaking. You will occasionally get attacked from off-screen which can be annoying but overall the developers give you a choice of either rotating the camera via the Right Analog stick or you can instantly reset the camera via the Right Trigger.

This game is straight up about action and for anyone buying this for a story you better look elsewhere. While there IS in fact a story none of the dialog or story segments are particularly well written. This is of course no surprise to ninja gaiden fans as the game has always had an old school approach to game design as it relies on the game play to carry it instead of the story. From all the high points in the game there is one glaring issue that I keep coming back to every time I play. And that is the frame rate at one point late in the game there is a segment in which you get attacked by what must be 100 enemy ninjas about 30 on screen at a time. At this point it was like I was playing in slow motion. The game slowed down a lot and the frame rate took a noticeable hit for the duration of the fight. It seems it does this anytime there are a lot of enemies and or flashy visual effects like explosions. And while this is a very glaring flaw it’s not to the point where it makes the game unplayable. The only other noticeable flaw that this game has is the pacing of the difficulty is off. You will find your self stuck on one boss and then you will destroy the next the yo-yo like difficulty scaling sets the pacing of the game slightly off.

Overall the game is very well designed and Ninja Gaiden fans along with action genre fans should love the game. And with two unlockable difficulties and a New Game+ mode there is a lot of incentive to go back and experience all of the awesome action with all of the creatures and bosses all of whom are very well designed.
If you like action, violence and ninjas then you should defiantly check out this game. It’s a wonderful old school-esque game that will demand a lot but reward you for your hard fought efforts.

Overall Score: 9.5

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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

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