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Ninja Gaiden 2 Review
developer: Team Ninja
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jun 03, 08 (released)
|» All About Ninja Gaiden 2 on ActionTrip|
Evidently pleased with the success of Ninja Gaiden (for the first Xbox console), Tecmo went on a franchise-milking rampage, which led to titles like Ninja Gaiden Black, Ninja Gaiden Sigma and more. Making a full sequel to the original NG was an obvious next step. Developed, once again, by Team Ninja, Ninja Gaiden 2 stretches the boundaries of fast-paced action. Things are considerably bloodier this time. If you've seen the trailers and screenshots from NG 2, you should have a pretty good idea of how much gore and violence we're talking about. But the game strives to deliver more than just wall-to-wall blood splattering.
Let's test these blades shall we... Perfect.
Put another ninja on the fire.
Ninja Gaiden games were always known for their incredible difficulty. This tradition continues in NG 2. At first, it was debated if it would be a bit too much for the average gamer to handle. Well, that, I guess depends on the perspective you're willing to take.
Similarly to its predecessor, Ninja Gaiden 2 is all about fast reflexes and non-stop button-mashing. It requires you to stay focused at all times. Memorizing all the moves and pulling off well-timed combos and blocks is the key. But before we get deeper into the gameplay, I'd like to certain other issues out of the way first.
Ninja Gaiden 2 starts off with a vague storyline. You won't have a very clear picture of who you are or why your fate is intertwined with certain characters. There are some scrolls and books scattered throughout the game, explaining a bit about the backstory. It's meager story-telling really. Cut-scenes do not explain things much either. However, they are superbly directed and still very enjoyable to watch. With each passing cinematic, I knew I wasn't exactly going to be treated to in-depth story-telling. Even so, I actually looked forward to each one of them, simply because they looked splendid and have frequently reminded me of the fabulous cinematics in games like Devil May Cry 4.
But who cares about the story anyway? You are a Ninja named Ryu Hayabusa, hence you're cool and you kick ass. That's all that matters, right? Well, not quite. We'd like to think that any developer should spend a significant amount of time creating a reasonably immersive storyline. It is a crucial element, which is clearly missing in this game. The absence of a satisfying narrative shouldn't stop you from playing. And here's why.
Pretty much like the original Ninja Gaiden (Xbox), the gameplay is tricky right from the outset. Throughout the course of the first two chapters, I found myself cursing at the devs. for making things too damn hard even when taking the "Path of the Acolyte" -- lower difficulty level -- as opposed to the "Path of the Warrior." For instance, in order to kill Genshin, the Black Spider Ninja Clan Overlord (the second boss in the game), I had to retry the fight about 15-20 times. At this point, all I could think about was "frustratingly difficult" or "who the fuck can dodge that?" It didn't take me to long to realize that, at the end of the day, the immensely steep learning curve actually makes the game more enjoyable and all the more rewarding since I've put twice as much effort into each battle than I would in any other action game. From here on, mastering Ryu's fighting techniques became a thrilling experience and before I knew it, I was able to slice through hordes of baddies gracefully and with ease.
Arguably, there are a number of issues that are bound to bother gamers. Most of the time, when you're having problems defeating a boss or getting the better of multiple enemies, it's usually due to the lousy camera angle. No matter how hard you try sometimes, you just cannot seem to get the right perspective. It's almost as if the developers screwed with the camera, just so they could make certain enemies in the game impossible to beat. For that reason, boss fights are likely to get exasperating. Cheap tricks used confuse players can hardly be construed as the pinnacle of current-gen. gaming. Fair enough, in my case, I didn't find this to be much of a problem and in time I got used to it. But that's just me.
Another thing that might spoil the fun for some people, are slightly disappointing surroundings, most of which have a dire need for richer textures and simply more objects.
Otherwise, the game looks pleasing to the eye, with excellently animated characters, brilliant atmosphere, imaginative monster designs and a generally satisfactory audio experience (the music, for example, sets the right tone for each location). It's true that some of the sound effects could've been better, especially the sound of weapons clashing and such. Still, you only need look at the brilliant animation and choreography during battles. It is first-rate to say the least, making each enemy encounter a marvelous sight.
8.5 Very Good
Wickedly fast combat and thrilling not-stop action, great atmosphere, very challenging, cool monster design, beautiful animation and battle choreography;
Weird camera issues, could get annoyingly difficult and unfair (we like that, but some might not), if there's a story we missed it.