|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Team Ninja||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft / Tecmo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 3, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Players will utterly dominate the majority of each chapter. New foes provide a challenge for the first few minutes, but once you see how they attack, they are dispatched as quickly as the initial Spider Clan baddies. Where things get really tough, especially on the Warrior difficulty setting, is in the boss battles. -- Thanks for the information, Captain Obvious! -- Seriously, Ninja Gaiden has always been known for tough bosses and NG II is no exception. The problem is these showdowns aren't nearly as interesting as they are in say, Metroid Prime or God of War. In fact, I only found the boss battles to be frustrating and not particularly enjoyable.
All the dominance and unbashed ass-kickery I threw down while roaming the city streets was negated by some Sephiroth-looking D-bag with a purple-trimmed outfit. After quickly figuring out each boss' little tricks, you'll only be challenged by the task of executing your strategy with expert timing. Moreover, all the delightfully gruesome ways in which minions are slain are reduced to far more noble, and relatively blood-free, cinematic death sequences.
My last couple of gripes have to do with the graphics and the environments. The framerate is incredibly smooth and the textures are stunning, but there are a few chinks in the visual armor. Certain environments are fantastic, while others are simply standard. For example, the awesome views of the futuristic Tokyo cityscape were great, but the interior of the buildings are bland and featureless. Similarly, New York, a city known for its details, nooks, and crannies looked as if I was plodding around Denver. I didn't mind the mildly branching, basically linear level design at all, but I would have liked to have seen more attention paid to puddles, rust spots, billboards, etc. Those are the kind of details that bring gaming to the next level. Finally, the splattered blood on walls, while fun to look at, would often carry over into mid-air. This is a fairly knit picky complaint, but it's not the kind of thing for which the last game in the series should be remembered.
There are a number of things the game gets spot on, however. For one, the pacing is fast and furious. There is never any downtime, and you will quickly advance from area to area. Additionally, there is almost no shuttering. I was absolutely thrilled at just how stable everything is. It really is ultra-smooth. Finally, the regenerating health meter and ability to play in either Acolyte or Warrior difficulty makes the game accessible for more people. This may be unsettling for those who cut their teeth on Ninja Gaiden Black, but having the option to breeze through the chapters in Acolyte is nice for everyone except the most dedicated gamers. Thankfully, Warrior difficulty will still be a challenge to Ninja Gaiden masters. Anyone who says otherwise is either bionic or a lying snob!
Bottom line, Ninja Gaiden II is a very good action title that has a repetitive yet satisfying combat mechanic. It doesn't look or feel quite like the masterpiece Itagaki stated it was, but it will provide you with several hours of a bloody good time.
CCC Editor / News Director