|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 Adam Brown
March 25, 2009 - Not very long after Tecmo sent out secretive media invites that proclaimed the unveiling of "The greatest ____ game, ever!" the internet was ablaze with the possible titles this could be in reference to. Due to several factors, including the event's location, the general consensus was that Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 for the PS3 was probably this mystery game. In fact, about a week prior to the event, there were even some leaked magazine scans that seemed to all but confirm it.
With GDC going on across the street, a group of journalists waited eagerly for the doors of the PlayStation Store to be opened and for this "mystery" to finally come to an end. In a major twist, the announcement winded up being for the greatest Mighty Bomb Jack game ever! No, not really, in actuality it was for the title everyone expected, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (NGS2), making this announcement one of the worst kept secrets in recent memory.
With CheatCC in attendance, producer/director Yosuke Hayashi showed off the game's first trailer as well as outlined some of the details for this highly anticipated PS3 exclusive. The trailer was pretty impressive, full of the great-looking cinemas and action-packed combat that we've come to expect from the Ninja Gaiden series. The speed at which Ryu destroyed his opponents in the trailer was matched only by the fluidity of his motions while doing so. This is likely thanks to the use of an upgraded version of the engine used for the first Ninja Gaiden Sigma on the PS3.
However, far from being just a direct port of the very recently released (last summer) Xbox 360 exclusive Ninja Gaiden 2 with prettier graphics, NGS2 actually seems to have several legs up over its predecessor. The first noticeable, and I mean incredibly apparent, one is the addition of two new characters. Joining Ryu Hayabusa this time around are two female combatants. The first character should be instantly familiar to fans of the Dead or Alive franchise, Ayane, with her distinctively purple hair. The second may be slightly more difficult to recognize immediately due to the fact that her last appearance was in the DS game Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword. Her name, of course, is Momiji.
Both Ayane and Momiji will come with their own specific fighting styles and weapons. Ayane will be fairly quick and utilize two small swords while Momiji will move a little slower and carry a staff with a large blade at one end. Their weapons of choice along with their differing styles of combat ensure that playing as these new ladies will be more than just playing as Ryu with different skins. Each of these character's levels will also be mixed in throughout the original campaign found in Ninja Gaiden 2, filling in side stories as well as providing players with added combat variety and gameplay along the way.
Aside from the gameplay changes brought about by these new characters, NGS2 has seen some other significant gameplay tweaks as well. Taking into account all of the feedback received from the players of Ninja Gaiden 2, Team Ninja seems to have tried to address many of these fans' reoccurring complaints. While there have been numerous small, subtle changes made to some of the moves and timing in combat, the biggest change comes in a supposedly much improved camera. The unwieldy camera was easily the most annoying issue present in Ninja Gaiden 2, so any help in that department will be a more than a welcome addition. However, since the game wasn't in playable form at this event, we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed that the new camera will indeed be a vast improvement over its predecessor's.
NGS2 is also set to reverse one of the currently popular trends in the industry. When a game is updated/ported from the PS3 to the Xbox 360 after a long wait there is often some sort of new online mode or multiplayer added to the package (ex: Virtua Fighter 5). However, when a game is brought from the Xbox 360 to the PS3 down the road you will likely find additional content but usually nothing to do with online play (ex: Bioshock). In a somewhat unexpected, yet completely pleasant surprise, NGS2's biggest addition will come in the form of an all-new online co-op mode.
This new mode will allow two players to choose their desired character from the three available choices and work together to achieve different goals. Instead of just having players working through the single-player campaign together, this mode will consist of a series of challenge stages. Unfortunately, exactly what these stages are going to entail wasn't fully explained other than they would be objective-based, consist of both new and reused scenarios, and have a more arcade-type feel than the single-player missions. Players will also likely get to make use of some cooperative attacks in this mode such as the back to back Ninpo usage between Ryu and Ayane that was spotted in the game's trailer. While we'll have to wait for the full details of this mode and its contents to be released, what was already revealed seems incredibly promising.
Whether you're comparing it to the first Ninja Gaiden Sigma or to Ninja Gaiden 2, NGS2 looks like it should be a great addition to the Ninja Gaiden franchise. With its tweaked gameplay, hopefully improved camera, new characters, and all-new online mode, NGS2 appears as though it might just have a chance at being "The greatest Ninja game, ever!" Make sure to check back as more information about this title will likely become available as its Fall 2009 release date approaches.
CCC Staff Contributor