|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Team Ninja||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Tecmo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 29, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
July 31, 2009 - It's no mystery that Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is the continuation of the first Sigma and a remake of Ninja Gaiden II for the Xbox 360. However, there's more to it than just that; the folks at Team Ninja have been hard at work putting together a package that will make some 360 owners jealous, myself included. I have a PS3 too, but I would feel bad buying the same game twice, and at the same time I know there are a few added features in the new game that almost make me want to have it again. What we've seen so far is cool, and we can't wait to get our hands on the final copy to see everything this game has to offer.
For starters, the story mode has changed a little. We found ourselves slashing our way through updated environments within Tokyo, Venice, and beyond. There are three playable characters we've been able to try out, and even though Ryu Hayabusa had a few more powerful weapons unlocked, we still thought the new girls, Ayane from Dead or Alive and Momiji from Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (DS), kick some serious butt. I especially enjoyed Ayane's agile and devastating moves and her explosive projectiles, which are great for long-range attacks against certain ninjas who keep shooting fire arrows from afar; nonetheless, Momiji's moves are also fairly potent. These strong candidates will make it tough for players to make a decision, but hopefully we'll be able to play with all of them in different parts of the game, just like on this preview build, which had us try them out in different scenarios.
Team Ninja has also added new boss battles to the game. You will encounter a few different enemies and a new A.I. strategy. This time around, when you replay a section, the enemies might show up in a different area and they'll act differently too, depending upon your moves. This unpredictable behavior keeps the gameplay fresh and translates into a bit of extra challenge, though the gameplay overall is quite similar, aside from the new finishing move that lets you execute a final blow with the push of a button (triangle, in case you were wondering). Other than that, the controls remain the same, with square and triangle being the main attack buttons, L1 to block, circle for shooting shuriken, arrows, and the like, and X for jumping and climbing walls. Of course, players can also use Ninpo (magic) if they're in need of an especially powerful attack, and in Sigma 2 the Ninpo cutscenes look a lot more spectacular.
In addition to the improved story mode with new bosses, finishing blow, and the extra playable characters, including Rachel for Ninja Gaiden II, the game will offer online co-op. Players will be paired up with others to complete missions, or they can also invite their online friends to a co-op challenge. If you're all alone and don't want to go online, you can play with some friendly A.I. too, but it's certainly not the same as sharing the experience with someone else who's real, whether you know them or not.
The mission objectives vary; some will have you kill a couple dozen enemies, while others will make you face some big boss until he's K.O. You can use two Ninpo powers during the challenge instead of three, and everything else works the same way as it does in the story mode. There are acolyte and warrior missions with different levels of difficulty, and the ones we played didn't take too long to complete. The game will include about 30 of them, and the online co-op features voice chat to communicate with your pals, as well as rankings. It's not as fun as the story mode, but it's also action-packed and gives players something else to do once the main game is over.
If you don't remember what Ninja Gaiden is like, just keep in mind you're a ninja warrior always looking to restore peace and justice to your beloved hometown of Hayabusa. In this game, Ryu Hayabusa, the protagonist, roams around the world searching for the stolen Demon Statue. This artifact has the power of resuscitating the evil Archfiend, and that's exactly the Black Spider Ninja Clan's objective. Ryu will travel around the world in locations such as Tokyo, New York, Venice, and his very own village. He'll encounter numerous vicious enemies along the way, and his only way out is to slice them into pieces with one of his many weapons.
You can upgrade these weapons, and the system seems to be the exact same as in Ninja Gaiden II. In fact, the menu interface has changed from red to blue, but other than that, everything appears to be the same. By picking up orbs when you kill enemies, you'll collect the necessary currency to level up the weapons. I really like the Lunar Staff, a heavy and dangerous polearm with thorns on both sides that leaves the enemies helpless when Ryu spins it around like a top.
The visuals in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 are quite a step up from the previous game (Ninja Gaiden Sigma), with many more details and rich textures throughout. It's similar to what we saw in Ninja Gaiden II on the Xbox 360, but they also added a sweet prologue comic at the beginning. Great, hand-drawn scenes in black and white start telling the story of our protagonists before you jump into battle. Also, the full HD and the surround sound support make for an amazing visual and aural experience; couple that with the non-stop action, the girls, the new challenges, and the co-op multiplayer, and you have another winner for the PS3. Sure, the game comes to Sony's platform over a year later, but the wait will be worth it for many gamers, especially those who are excited about the new hotties Team Ninja added as playable characters. Look for our full review in a couple of months, when the game hits the stores.
CCC Site Director