Ninja Gaiden 2

2008-12-30 22:44:38

Ninja Gaiden 2(Xbox 360)

Ninja's, the perrinial favorite amongst geeks everywhere. Ninja's Pirates, and Hackers, and zombies, all not only glorified but granted special powers in the eyes of most geeks. Ninja's and Zombies however as given more gameplay is seems than the other two. One thing that all Ninja oriented media seems to do is to remove almost all features of stealth and instead transplant super powers. It's like all the history books on Ninja were written in wikipedia by feudal lords and samurai of the era, and nobody dared question the accuracy. Sure, to the Samurai they fought against they seemed to have amazing super powers, Daimyo's feared for their lives when they heard the tales of ninja who had eliminated formidible samurai, and in those mystical years who wouldn't have believed that the Ninja had some kind of magic in their back pockets mixed in with their Shurikens?

So here we are, in the 21st century and ALL of our video games play off this old Daimyo perception of Ninja's, and no game that I am aware of has ever tried to even slightly provide a authentic experience. I'd love a game that lets you breathe through a bamboo straw to avoid detection, use collapsible boxes to cross rivers, bear claw shoes and handclaws to fool samurai and hide in trees. Blowguns filled with gravel, salt, red pepper and glass to blind samurai and blackpowder bombs to smoke for escape. Stealing a samurai's sword to replace my shitty ninja katana as Samurai weapons were finer grade. Tenchu Z came close to a decent Ninja Simulator if it wasn't for the scoring being based on how many people you kill.

Ninja Gaiden 2 is no suprise to me, I did play and am working on beating Ninja Gaiden Black, a game that is regaled the internet over as being the game equivelant to the Pain Olympics. A treat in self torture. The game horrendously punishes those who do not play the game well, causing death over and over and over again until the player either relents from frustration, or improves enough to complete the challenge presented. Ninja Gaiden for Xbox prior to the Black edition was even more challenging, with more frugal placement of Save locations, making the player have to go longer periods without saving. Someday I will beat the original Ninja Gaiden, but for now let's see how the new 360 Ninja holds up to it's predecessors lineage.

Ninja Gaiden 2, the last game in the Ninja Gaiden Lineage if Team Ninja is to be believed. Delivers a compelling Ninja Hack and Slash game to the 1080p crowd, expanding the gameplay in almost every conceivable way, while also delivering accessibility to more gamers. Now in that previous buzzword confecture I just wrote, I basically say 2 things. 1. Ninja Gaiden Fans are going to have their pants blown off to make room for their ninja fueled erection to blossom. 2. The game has been made easier to cater to the masses.

Now everyone knows I hate it when games that are good have to water down their difficulty for the crybabies to get a chance to "win", but I'm not so Pro-Gamer Roid Raging that I require everyone to play on Veteran in Call of Duty 4/World at War just because I can and have. Thankfully Ninja Gaiden 2 has difficulty levels you can select, with the original 2 being Acolyte and Warrior. Don't think that Acolyte will be a cakewalk however, it will still challenge the average gamer and brutally so in some cases. Hardcore players will want to go with the Warrior difficulty to keep things on the Ninja Gaiden Pain Olympic setting.

Ryu Hayabusa once again has to chase down demons and eliminate them to save the world. This time taking a page out of Metal Gear Solids book by providing a real player controllable camera(Ninja Gaiden Black used a fixed camera which lead to a lot of blind spots). Ninja gaiden also features faster load times, and of course the stellar 1080p graphics. New to the series is a much more intensive damage system, where in the past Demons and Spider Ninjas would retain all their appendages until you killed them with a potential decapitation, All of the enemies of Ninja Gaiden 2 are now easy to maim. Swords slice through arms and torsos, Hand and Leg Claws get stuck in enemies ribcages, the Staff cracks skulls splattering chunky brain stew against the walls. Weapons get soaked in blood after battles, and Ryu will clean his weapon before sheathing it if you give him the time to. Maimed enemies fight harder, seeking to do the same to you as you do to them. Thankfully for the player the enemies cannot maim you in the same ways you maim them, however they can and often do grapple you forcing you to rapidly tap attack keys to break free.

Other additions include a large upgradeable weapon ensemble, consisting of: Dragon Sword, Falcon Claws, Lunar Staff, Vigoorian Flail, Kusari-gama(a sickle like weapon and chained flail), Eclipse Scythe, Dragons Claw and Tiger Fang(2 sword wield), Tonfas, and eventually the Blade of the Archfiend mixed with Dragons Sword which replaces the Dragons Claw and Tiger Fang. You also have the standard assortment of ranged weapons from Ninja Gaiden Black, which are the Shuriken, the Explosive Shuriken, the Windmill Shuriken, and the Devils Bane Bow. An interesting facet is that there is only 1 Bow in the game and they added a sniper like component to using it, where if you use the right trigger while holding the ranged attack key you can go over the shoulder and there is a red dot that indicates your target. You can also hold the ranged attack key with all of the ranged weapons except the original shuriken for a boosted attack, much like using the Y key will charge a ultimate technique from your melee weapon. For the bow this strengthens the attack of the Bow, with the Explosive Shuriken it means you throw more at once. With the windmill... Let's just say the windmill proved pretty much useless for my playthrough.

Gameplay interface changed with the ability to use the D-pad to access a quick menu to change weapons, ranged weapons, ninpo styles, and use healing supplies. Accessing this menu automatically pauses gameplay while it's open, but prevents long times jumping back into the action that we suffered in Ninja Gaiden Black. The game gives you the ability to buy power ups you missed in previous stages, and the save system is more refined, with a quick save device instead of save slots. This allows the user to run up to a dragon statue, and get fully healed, and saved all at once. Dragon statues only fully heal the player the first time used, and after that you can save as many times as needed, but the Healing Mechanic is great and adds a new degree of difficulty to the game. See when Ryu takes damage, in the past that damage came off his bar, and was gone forever until healing items were used. Now when Ryu is injured his health disappears off his bar, and to the far right of the bar Red begins to appear. The more damage, the more red fills the right edge of the bar. Once combat is complete, Ryu's health restores up to the red edge. Providing essentially a permanent damage and a "stamina" system. The more battles you fight without receiving healing the longer the red edge will be, and the less health you will have at the ready for your next fight. Obviously you'll want to keep an eye on that and make sure you get your health maxed before fighting boss monsters, which really isn't difficult since dragon statues are well placed, and often there is one right outside the boss fight's doorstep.

Ryu also gets a wall running technique that lets him bounce from wall to wall in mid wall run to keep his momentum going in a straight line, this is only really used about three times, but is fun and easy to perform. Also added is the ability to quickly charge your Y attack by absorbing orbs. In the past Orbs came in 3 flavors, Health, Money, and Ninpo, and you could only collect them when not attacking, now you can opt to sacrifice their bonuses to your supplies, in exchange for a turbocharging of your ki strike. instead of it taking 5 seconds to charge it becomes instantaneous the second the orbs are absorbed. Depending on how many are absorbed or the kinds that are absorbed determine if it's a lvl 1 strike or a full charged strike.

The game is fairly rich on story, with diaries of dead ninjas littered about the game maps, the intro text before each mission, and the cutscenes. The game tells the Ninja Gaiden Tale in a way that binds the previous titles(including the original NES titles) together. You chase after a Ninja known as Genshin, a Blood Demon Elizabet, to attempt to recover a Demon Statue(which looks just like the one in the NES games) that was stolen from the Dragon Ninja Castle, after Ryu's father is defeated in combat. Sound Familiar? that was basically the premise of the original Ninja Gaiden for NES. The other nod is in two seperate levels you return to Hayabusa Village, and the Ninja Castle that you originally visit in Ninja Gaiden Black, even replacing the broken head of a statue back on. This stitching together of games is a great thing that Team Ninja did before they closed their doors on this franchise. Now on to the rating

Reason Rank
Start 10
Maiming your enemies with 7 types of weapons +5
Nostalgic Nods to previous titles +2
Flexible yet still difficult +2
Elegant UI +4
well detailed story +2
Still not a Stealther Ninja Game in sight -1


What does this mean? This gamers, is Gamer Gold, a game that doesn't beat around the bush, you chop ninja's and demons into chunky salsa and it's served to you however you want it, Hard or Easy, your choice of weapon, competitive leaderboards, you name it, Ninja Gaiden does it. It's almost sad to think that this is the last of a series, but, at least if they had to go out, they went out with one hell of a bang! Raging Geek Game of the Year Potential Here.