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Ninja Gaiden 2 Preview
developer: Team Ninja
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jun 03, 08 (released)
|» All About Ninja Gaiden 2 on ActionTrip|
Ninja-chopping action extreme.
Up until a few weeks ago, we knew precious little about Ninja Gaiden 2, except that an announcement was due at Microsoft's pre-TGS (Tokyo Game Show) presentation. As cruel fate would have it, a bunch of in-game screenshots hit the official Japanese Xbox web site before the event even began. (Fate may have been cruel to the PRs there, but certainly not the fans. - Ed) They were removed almost instantly, but not quickly enough to stop several news sites from leaking the shots. The very next day, Microsoft and development studio Team Ninja officially announced Ninja Gaiden 2 as an Xbox 360 exclusive.
Microsoft, apparently, decided to step in as the publisher for this one, which was somewhat unexpected, seeing as Tecmo published the original Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden Black on the Xbox, as well as the recently released Ninja Gaiden Sigma on the PS3. Just to reassure the fans out there, the development of Ninja Gaiden 2 is being handled by Team Ninja, the same studio involved with earlier Ninja Gaiden projects.
According to the developers, Ninja Gaiden 2 runs on a completely new engine, which focuses on making the most of the 360's power. The official word is that they created this new technology from the ground up.
The presentation during the Pre-TGS event indicated that the game is far along in development - before running the demo, MS and Team Ninja highlighted the 8 selectable stages, which are, supposedly, already completed.
"Aqua Castle" comes as the first sample of in-game action from Ninja Gaiden 2. This level portrays the main character, Ryu (apparently clad in his familiar black combat suit once again) as he marches into combat against numerous bad-ass opponents such as warrior-ninjas, various ugly-looking monsters and so on. Incidentally, Aqua Castle is an urban district, remarkably similar to Venice and is obviously a place where hideous creatures roam freely. Well, luckily for the inhabitants, Ryu is on his way with vengeance and blood on his mind.
This sort of brings us to one of the first changes in the franchise. Unlike previous installments, NG 2 features a notable increase in blood and gore, as showcased in the TGS demo. In short, throughout most of the gameplay in Ninja Gaiden 2, Ryu shows off his new-found ambition to slash through hordes of enemies until most of them are decapitated or limbless. This time around, arms and legs of slain foes are tossed every which way.
Apart from the flying appendages though, the game sees some pretty intense battle situations. The surrounding area is effected by this. Delivering deadly blows to opponents, Ryu will be destroying fruit stands and other objects in the environment.
Amongst a diversity of new features in Ninja Gaiden 2, we now know that Ryu wields a number of new weapons. To begin with, the menacing scythe seems to be one the most obvious fresh additions. Armed with this gigantic and exceedingly sharp weapon, the game's hero is able to cut swiftly through baddies with great ease and precision. The razor-sharp Wolverine-like claws are another interesting addition to Ryu's opponent-slicing gear. These are best suited for close encounters, allowing him to effectively decapitate any poor foe that dimwittedly stands in his way.
Throughout the game, Ryu will come across more larger and tougher enemies, which is where some of his special abilities come into play. With his new Tornado Ninpo he flings foes around, causing a great deal of damage to multiple targets. When activated, this particular ability is followed with a somewhat gruesome little visual moment, as severed heads and limbs are caught in the tornado and lifted up into the air.
The TGS demo gave us a good idea of what to expect in terms of finishing moves. In a nutshell, Ryu can obviously improvise to some extent when fighting enemies. He'll most likely be able to fight a group of monsters with one weapon and then choose to finish them off with a different weapon. Furthermore, to make these cool new weapons work, Team Ninja incorporated a handy new system that gives you a chance to switch equipment on the fly, as opposed to pausing the game and selecting a weapon from a separate menu.
As for story details, I'm afraid not much is known. For now, it's been revealed that Ryu Hayabusa, the central character of the game, is heading on a mission to avenge his clan and (surprise, surprise) save humanity from destruction. Although the story-telling aspect may appear to be simplistic at this point, the developers promised a compelling 30-hour narrative all the way, involving retribution and friendship leading up to a chain of dramatic events, as players explore various locations from Tokyo and New York to the Netherworld.
Next to the plot, other new elements are being kept under wraps. However, it was mentioned that Ninja Gaiden 2 includes a brand-new auto-health regeneration system. According to the developers this new system represents "the natural evolution of the franchise's distinctive gameplay" and "introduces a new twist to managing health."
By the way, the action is, on the whole, much faster than before, so much so that it's sometimes hard to discern which move Ryu pulled off. The good news is that casual gamers won't have any problems getting used to the game's basics, since it will be possible to choose one of the multiple levels of difficulty. This appears to be part of the makers' efforts to market one of the game's slogans: "easy to play, hard to master."
Ninja Gaiden was also seasoned with some welcomed extras. For one thing, gamers can expect to experience the new Master Ninja Tournament, with the option to upload Karma scores to leaderboards on Xbox Live.
At this point, this is all the info we have on the game. From what we've gathered, it appears that both Microsoft and Team Ninja are compelled to create an exciting action-adventure, preserving the general spirit of previous editions in the popular Ninja Gaiden franchise. At the same time, they're introducing a bundle of cool new features to make it a worthy sequel. Well, here's hoping.
Be on the lookout for Ninja Gaiden 2 in 2008, when the game ships exclusively for the Xbox 360.
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