Review by darksydex3226

Reviewed: 06/09/08

True Ninja Action in All Its Glory

Let me begin by saying Ninja Gaiden II is an excellent achievement created by the extremely talented Team Ninja. The first revamp of Ninja Gaiden on the XBox was a true milestone in action gaming, and Ninja Gaiden II once more takes action gaming to the next level.

The gameplay of NGII is where it truly shines brightest. This isn't your simple button mashing action game where the enemies are just walking dummies for you to rack high combos on. The enemy AI is intelligent as it is brutal. In NGII you need to form excellent tactics and maneuvers to out-class your enemy and take them down quickly and precisely. The enemies come in sometimes in small packs and other times in swarms. The combat in this game is incredible, with plenty of different combos to try out and a vast array of weaponry. The Dragon Sword (default weapon) alone is versatile enough to make this game highly enjoyable, add another bunch of weapons to the fray and you have yourself an endless amount of possibilities and plenty of replay value to try out all the different styles of play with your armory. Not to mention every weapon is upgradable through a Shop/Blacksmith system that will further increase your selection of deadly combos. Also introduced into NGII is the Obliteration Technique. A stylish attack that can be accessed once one of your opponents limbs are chopped off during a melee scuffle. A simple tap of the Y button will unleash a fatal attack against your enemy, and it's always sweet to watch as the camera comes in close for a cinematic look at the gore. On the Acolyte setting this game is very accessible to all players, and Warrior mode is a great start for the Ninja Gaiden players and vets. Also in the gameplay section, there are some small platforming elements to break up all the frantic fighting. It's a nice change of pace and gets the mind off all the fighting for a bit. I'm also glad to say that there aren't any slow puzzles to get in the way of the fast pace. Last but not least, this is stage based game, meaning it's linear in design and for the most part is point A to point B. This is NOT a bad thing! The linear design works perfectly, and in my opinion is a HUGE step up from the semi-open approach in the original game.

Next up is the storyline. True Ninja Gaiden fans from back in the NES days will be able to truly appreciate it, as it is a huge throwback to the series and, despite what many say, if you read the Chapter Synopsis between every level the story will make perfect sense and is actually quite enjoyable. To put it simple (and spoiler free): a mysterious woman ambushes Ryu's village to steal one of the ancient artifacts under the protection of his clan. With the artifact she goes around the world, resurrecting Greater Fiend's, and Ryu must put a stop to them while tracking her down to stop the resurrection of the greatest evil of all, the Archfiend. Ryu travels the world in true Ninja Gaiden fashion battling evil all along the way.

The graphics in Ninja Gaiden II aren't the greatest in the world, but they're definitely up to par. Then of course, there's the silky smooth animations that just make all the violence and gore that much more beautiful to behold. Speaking of gore, did I mention this game is extremely bloody? With each attack Ryu has the possibility of dismembering a limb for his enemy, and every enemy that you kill (minus a couple of fiends that dissolve), will stay in the stage and you can just look at all the body parts that you hacked off from your enemies. There is the occasional frame rate drop when the screen is just too packed with enemies, but it actually makes for a pretty cool looking effect (and quite frankly it helped me think better on what moves I intended to do next). However, I can't try and say it's a positive aspect, unfortunately it is a bit disheartening to see a little lag in the game every now and then. For the most part though, the game runs smoothly. I also should mention that there are some very minor loading times in between levels.

The sounds of Ninja Gaiden II are spectacular. The slashing and chopping sound effects are great, and it really makes the over the top gore and violence that much more fun. The score is also very good, with action packed tracks that really get you into the action. One especially good track to point out is "The Hero", a rocking track with a guitar in Chapter 6 that makes me want to slash werewolves to kingdom come.

All in all, Ninja Gaiden II is a true step up from the original, and if you learn how to play you will realize that there really isn't any "cheap" stuff going on (as many will say), sure the rocket launcher pod ninja's are extremely annoying, but there are plenty of ways to defeat them without even breaking a sweat. The bosses are massive too! The replay value of this game is incredibly high. With Tests of Valor to do, multiple difficulties, alternate colors for your costume, crystal skulls to collect and many different weapons to try out. Ninja Gaiden II is an amazing accomplishment to an amazing franchise, and I suggest anyone who loves action to get into this right away. It's never a dull moment when Ryu Hayabusa is in the building!

FOUR out of FIVE (or 9 out of 10 how this GameFaqs puts it, I prefer the 5 star rating myself though).

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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

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