Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ryu Returns!

Ninja Gaiden II has finally arrived and with all the recent controversy about Tomonobu Itagaki leaving and suing TECMO some have wondered if that may have had a effect on the game. Well the answer is no but that's not to say that Ninja Gaiden II is perfect because there are a few flaws.

Alot of people thought that Ninja Gaiden II didn't look much better then Sigma which is untrue. The game is gorgeous and needs to be seen in motion to be appreciated. The animation is top notch and some of the best you will see anywhere. The environments look great and some of them further in the game look straight up stunning. The enemies look great and they pack quite a few onto the screen at once which is impressive. The much talked about gore effects are incredible, blood and body parts never disappear remaining to show the carnage you have caused in your path. It's a small touch but its really nice.

The game play is great. Although there are almost no puzzles and little platforming. Ninja Gaiden II focus's on only the combat and that's where the game shines. The combat is by far the best in any action game to date. This is not a button masher. Button mashers look elsewhere as you will quickly get your ass handed to you if you don't know what you are doing. Defense is immensely important you will not beat the game without learning how to block, counter attack and evade. Each weapon in the game has a impressive move set and they get new moves as you level them. All of them are very fun to mess around with and decently balanced although there are a few weapons that seem to work far better then others like the Dragon Sword and the Scythe. The variety in combat is impressive if you get bored of using the Dragon Sword you can use something else and it really changes the experience.

Little tweaks make the game alot more different then Ninja Gaiden 1. Such as the new health system. When you fight you health will go done and a portion will become red. However after the fight is over the health with recover up to that red line. This makes Health alot more manageable but it doesn't make the game any easier. The new quick menu system allows you to change your weapon, ranged weapon, use health items and change Ninpo(which is no longer useless). Also Defense has been changed a bit sense Ninja Gaiden 1. In the original you can basically stand by blocking and wait for a opportunity to counter and this would work for the most part. However in Ninja Gaiden II the enemies will grapple you very quickly if you stay still for to long. Counters as well are a little different in that the timing required is a bit more precise then in the original game. While these are minor changes to be sure but they make a game feel very different from the first.

Now on the downside there are a few things to note. First and foremost is the camera. It's the same as the first and that means you are bound to have trouble with it from time to time. Although you can control it finding time to do so during combat is asking a little much. However pulling the R trigger centers the camera behind you so if you make a habit of doing this the camera is not so bad. Also the bosses seem to be a little cheap in the game. The bosses in Ninja Gaiden 1 were hard because they were either huge(Bone Dragon) or extremely fast and smart(Alma) however almost all the bosses in Ninja Gaiden II have cheap shots that you have to avoid and if you do this they aren't very hard. It's like figuring out the pattern to win. While that does add difficultly to the game it just doesn't feel the same as Ninja Gaiden 1 did. Now I know alot of you out there don't care about the story in the Ninja Gaiden games but I as a Dead or Alive fan who loves the universe and the characters in it found Ninja Gaiden II's story to be a bit weak. No where near as good as the first for many reasons that I will not go into so not to spoil it for those who have yet to play it. The soundtrack as well is not up to par of the first game. At best its serviceable. These may sound like stupid things to some but to fans of Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive they are very valid complaints.

All in all Ninja Gaiden II isn't as good as the first one but that's not to say its not good. The game is still incredible and maintains the punishing difficulty the series is known for. One thing I don't seem to understand is why the Gaiden games connect some plot points but not others. For instance Momiji a great new character introduced in Dragon Sword is no where to be found in this game. Nor is Rachael the fiend hunter. You would think that once the world becomes infested with fiends that being a fiend hunter she would be trying just as hard as Ryu to solve the problem. But I digress this is another topic for another day.

No comments: