Monday, February 27, 2012

Ninja Gaiden Sigma - Review

It's time to walk the path of the nina, and take our first steps into Ryu's story

Ninja Gaiden/Ninja Gaiden Sigma follows the story of Master Ninja Ryu Hayabusa. After the Hayabusa village is attacked and destroyed, Ryu sets out on a quest to track down the man who caused it all. The game's main story is heavily influenced by the world's mythology which leads Ryu down a path of fighting soldiers, rival ninjas, and monsters known as fiends. Although the game does in fact have a story, with backgroud information which can be viewed while installing the game, it takes the back seat so the gameplay can be the driver.

The world of Ninja Gaiden is actually the very same world from Dead or Alive, and acts as a prequel of sorts. To put it simply, Ninja Gaiden is the start of Ryu's story, Dead or Alive is the middle, and the original NES games are the end.

Although Ninja Gaiden does take place in the same universe as Dead or Alive, it does NOT feature all of the same characters. Ninja Gaiden's story is about Ryu Hayabusa so it's only natural that only the characters he's close to appear in game. In other words, other than Ryu and Ayane, don't expect to see the other main characters.

Pick up your sword and get ready for the time of your life!

As I said before, Ninja Gaiden's main focus is on the gameplay, but don't think it's a game you can simply pick up and play.

Ninja Gaiden has a very deep combat system with a very steep learning curve, in fact it's one so steep that many people may not even be able to finish the game on the easiest setting! Yep you've heard me right, this game is hard! Now Ninja Gaiden Sigma isn't as hard as the original Ninja Gaiden, and it has included a "very easy" type mode (which is unlocked after you've gotten three game overs), but it is still a very challenging game.

Following the style of Dead or Alive, the combat system is just like what you'd expect in a fighting game. There are many different types of weapons to use, my personal favorite would be the twin blades, and each set of weapons has their own move set. Just like in Dead or Alive "move sets" have many different types of moves, and hundreds of possible combos. It's completely up to you, the player, to figure out what type of moves/combos you should be using and WHEN you should use them; this is where the steep learning curve comes in.

Picture this, you're walking into a room with a single enemy which most people would call the "weakest enemy in the game." What do you do? Well in most hack in slash style games you would simply walk up to them and mash the attack button until they're dead, right? Well that's how you're going to get yourself killed in Ninja Gaiden! Just like in a fighting game, you have to fight every single enemy using the best of your abilities. If you leave yourself open and think you're going to beat an enemy by spamming a simple combo, you'll be dead in a matter of seconds.

Every single enemy has its own weaknesses and it's up to you to figure out just how you're going to beat each one. Some enemies you will be able to take out by using a basic combo, but that basic combo may also leave you open to get attacked from behind. Other enemies will require you to make use EVERY possible dodging technique you know (jumping, rolling out of the way, blocking, running on walls, etc) and they will require you to be to break their guard before you even have a CHANCE at doing damage to them.

So like I said before, the combat is extremly deep and you have to fight every enemy like it were the final boss.

Ryu's journey isn't going to be an easy one, that's for sure.

Although Ninja Gaiden is an action game, it barrows many features from other genres. Basically Ninja Gaiden is an Action Adventure Role Playing Fighting Game. The overall set up is what you would expect to see from an Action/Adventure game, and the combat system is deep like a fighter, but there are very many RPG elements as well.

Every single time you take down an enemy you will be rewarded with cash, or in some rare cases healing items, which you will then be able to take to the shops. Shops are spread out throughout each area in the game, and they are all completely the same. In other words, you don't have to worry about finding a special shop just to buy what you want, everything is sold in one place and it's very easy to access.

In these shops you will be able to spend your money in a number of different ways. You can upgrade your weapons, you can buy healing items, you can buy ammo/arrows, you can buy new moves/magic, and you can also buy brand new accessories as well. Since money is somewhat limited, although you can respawn enemies by going to a new area, you are required to really think about what you actually need and what you don't need. It really isn't that hard to manage, but sometimes you're forced to pick between upgrading your weapon or buying a completely new combo.

As you run through the areas in the game you'll also be able to find hidden paths and treasure chests. Sometimes these hidden paths require you to pull off some tricky moves such as wall running/jumping, but they almost always give you a reward that is VERY well worth it. Sometimes you'll find items that simply heal you, which is actually a very big deal in this game, but other times you'll find items that actually INCREASE your health/other stats. Either way the game makes it worth your wild to go out of your way to find hidden treasures, and they can be key to your survival.

So, just what are the differences between the original and Sigma/Sigma Plus?

Ninja Gaiden was originally released on the Xbox, but a few years (and remakes) later Ninja Gaiden Sigma was finally released. Other than the fact that Sigma/Sigma Plus is on the PS3 and Vita, there are some actual major changes.

First of all Ninja Gaiden Sigma was made AFTER the original director had left the team. Originally Ninja Gaiden games were made to be so hard that not many people could actually beat them, well not many people really liked that. With Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Team Ninja hoped to bring the world a game that almost everyone can enjoy. The game has a "very easy" type mode which unlocks after you've gotten three game overs, and the original modes have been made slightly easier. Now don't get me wrong the game still does give you a challenge, it's just that Team Ninja has gone the extra mile just to add some easier modes in as well. In short, it truly is a game that most people can enjoy, but it's also got that challenge for the ones who are up to it.

Another major change is the fact that a second playable character has been added in, a fiend hunter named Rachel. Rachel has always been a major part of the story, but up until now not much of her story was really shown. In Ninja Gaiden Sigma players actually get to see what Rachel was up to behind the scenes, which in return actually helps clear up parts of the story. Although her levels really aren't that long, her completely different fighting style is still a nice addition to the game. Instead of focusing on speed, Rachel focuses on brute force which really helps mix up the action. Still her chapters are a bit lacking...

Besides the two "major" changes that I've listed above, there are also many others. Just to name a few... The twin katanas have been added, there are a few new enemies, there are more boss fights, some enemies attack patterns have been changed, some puzzles have been changed or removed, and above all, the game has had a complete graphical update. In other words, Ninja Gaiden Sigma is the most "complete" version of the game so far, but it doesn't pack the full punch the original had which can make it quite a bit easier at times.

In conclusion...
Ninja Gaiden Sigma is a great game! The battle system is crazy and makes you feel like you've actually accomplished something when you've taken down an enemy, the RPG aspect is very nice, the levels are well designed, and the game is very VERY challenging for the hard core gamers yet it also has a mode thats easy enough for the casual gamers. In the end, this game truly does let you live the life of the ninja!
In the PS3 version there are a few screen tearing problems, but other than that there really are no major problems! Sure the over the top "breast physics" from Dead or Alive 4 have been added in for fan service, and the game can be quite bloody at times, but that's not always a turn off. If you can't stand the sight of blood, even unrealistic blood, or if you can't stand seeing women in fan service clothing, well you might have a problem with this game. Still if you can get past it you'll find yourself playing a game that might just keep you coming back for more even after you've completed it.

So how about it guys? Ready to take the challenge and walk the path of the ninja?

Netto's Rating:

Story: 7/10 - Not bad for what little story it has.
Gameplay: 10/10 - Very solid gameplay that will kepe you coming back for more!
Graphics: 8/10 - Pretty good for an HD remake!
Overall: 8.5/10 - Very good game! Worth checking out for sure if you're into this kind of game!
(Ryu's first adventure may have been great, but don't think it's over! With Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 already out and Ninja Gaiden 3 on it's way, it looks like Ryu is just getting started!)