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Jeremy Jastrzab
06 Jan, 2010

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Review

PS3 Review | With the mystery of Itagaki's madness still unexplained.
Even with the highly publicised departure of Tomonobu Itagaki, Tecmo seem quite content in flogging the second coming of the Ninja Gaiden brand. The 2004 Xbox release of Ninja Gaiden has three versions of it, including the Black and Sigma additions, so it makes sense that they’d want to flog 2008’s Ninja Gaiden II as well. However, while Ninja Gaiden Sigma was released three years and a generation after it’s inspirational title, Ninja Gaiden Sigma II comes barely a year after the controversial release of Ninja Gaiden II.

For those who want to know more about the intricacies of Ninja Gaiden II, please check out our previous review, as this one will concentrate more on the differences between the two titles and the transition from the Xbox 360 to the PS3. While the game is installing to the PS3 hard drive, Ninja Gaiden Sigma II provides a mildly entertaining prelude comic that details some of the events leading into the game. In short, it gives you a good idea of what the game will be about and what to expect.

Otherwise, the story is pretty much identical to the version on the Xbox 360. A well endowed CIA agent by the name of Sonia appears at Muramasa’s shop to tell our titular ninja, Ryu Hayabusa, about the plans of the Fiends and the Spider Clan. Primarily, this involves resurrecting the Arch Fiend, so he can get out and do fiendish things, probably involving the extinction of humanity. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Ninja Gaiden stories come under the ‘excuse to go out and slice stuff’ umbrella, but it can be fun as long as you’re not taking it seriously. The main difference in NGSII, is that you’ll have three extra missions involving Ryu’s three main female accomplices.

Ryu always has time to pose.

Ryu always has time to pose.
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But before that, it has to be said that the core gameplay of NGSII remains intact. Basically, there is not much difference to what Ryu can do when he’s going what he’s meant to be doing best, slicing up enemy ninjas and fiends, and they will put up a fight. There are differences to the game’s structure and intricacies, with some being for the better and some for the worse. For the better, the game has fewer enemies, which in turn is compensated by them having more health (apparently). This is better because for one, it takes off a lot of the strain that was often brought NG2 to its technical knees (a cardinal sin for such an action game) and for two, it take out A LOT of the frustration in the middle of the game.

Originally, Ninja Gaiden 2 could be split into three parts. The first and third parts of the game were awesome, and arguably surpassed the original Xbox title in most ways, through a combination of stellar edge-of-your seat combat and endearing boss battles. In the middle though, came a title that was blatantly cheap and way too heavily stacked against the player, with homing projectiles and flesh bombs being particularly pesky. The best part of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is that the balance has been redressed, with a much fairer yet still challenging title. In a relieving move, most the water combat has been eradicated from the game. In Ninja Gaiden Sigma, water was running as automatic, yet for some reason this regressed back to the need to tap the jump button in Ninja Gaiden 2. As such, these are replaced by… watery expanses.

Among the changes have been the addition of one sword, and the subtraction of most projectile weapons, due to the remaining ones having infinite ammo. Controlling projectile weapons is much easier now, but given this, the number of flying enemies has been drastically reduced. Boss fights have had a few rearrangements, though in a couple of the early chapters, you now have to face a few extras. Finally, the biggest addition to the game are the three extra chapters, each of which gives you control of the three main Ninja Gaiden ladies: Momoji, Rachel and Ayame. Their levels are quite short and go through the same locations that you’ve already covered with Ryu, but each is an interesting addition that breaks up the pace well enough.

What happened to the red corn syrup?

What happened to the red corn syrup?
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Outside of the main story, the mission mode is replaced by the team mission mode. It’s basically the same, but you now can have either an AI or online human partner to help you slice through all the enemies that the game throws at you while you compete for getting a high score. On higher difficulties, human partners are a must, because the AI partners simply aren’t aggressive enough. Players also have the option of uploading their high scores, uploading their recorded videos and during a mission you can help your partner by reviving them if they die.

Ninja Gaiden games are meant to be a test of skill. While the game is still tough and will push you far on even the normal difficulty, a lot of the changes to Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 seem to take away from this. In particular, you can upgrade one weapon at the beginning of each chapter, which means that you’re only spending gold on health items. As such, you’re pretty much always going to have enough to keep yourself healed, even with a limit of three of each item. The follow on effect is that most of the item chests and pick ups have either been changed to orbs or become redundant with your full inventory. While it helps with accessibility, it takes away from desperation of the game, which was something it did very well before. In a slight compensation, you can no longer hold health or magic increasing items for handy boosts.

Furthermore, gone are the Tests of Valour, which were a great way to break up the story and were often quite rewarding. Most the rewards as now scattered through out the game. Gone are any semblance of puzzles or environmental obstacles, meaning that the game is no something of a ‘corridor slicer’ with very little to break it up and as alluded above, there isn’t much incentive to explore now. Finally, you’ll only receive end-of-level ratings once you’ve unlocked the Chapter Challenge mode at the end of your first play through. And even then, you can only re-play missions on the difficulties that you’ve finished. The problem with all these changes is that a lot of the reward from the game is diminished. It implies that you’re playing for the story and the ending, which is not the primary reason people play Ninja Gaiden games.

I've made my choice.

I've made my choice.
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One aspect that is superior in Sigma 2 is the graphics, though primarily on a technical level. Ninja Gaiden 2 on the Xbox 360 was a litany of technical problems, the worst being the often slideshow frame rate. Using the same engine of the original Sigma, these issue are by far and away resolved in Sigma 2, which makes the game much more tenable, but at a price. All the gore and violence is replaced by a purple mist. Sure, it doesn’t look bad, but it does take away from the game’s original context. There aren’t any discernable changes to the sound track, the sound effects or the voicing, apart from the additional cut scenes in the extra chapters. Do yourself a favour and switch the voicing to Japanese.

Coming so close to the release of Ninja Gaiden 2, it’s hard to sell Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 to anyone who has already played, unless you couldn't get through the slideshows intact. PS3 owners though, now have access to one of the finest action games currently available. It’s definitely a challenge, but with a number of technical and gameplay improvements it’s now a much fairer challenge as well. Unfortunately, all these improvements have come at a cost, as it seems that in the pursuit of accessibility, the game has lost a lot of its incentives and original vision.
The Score
For all the improvements that come into Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, somewhere along the way, the game's vision became blurred. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Content

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 media
21 Jul, 2009 Some co-op multiplayer screens.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 confirmed for PS3
23 Mar, 2009 Port again to be directed by Yosuke Hayashi.
Ninja Gaiden 2 Review
19 Jun, 2008 The bloody grace of an angry ninja.
7 Comments
4 years ago
PALGN wrote
somewhere along the way, the game's vision became blurred.
Please elaborate? Exactly what was the original's vision, and how did this one differ?

Stating it's improved, yet give it a lower score - please explain?
4 years ago
Read the massive body of text above
4 years ago
Jahanzeb wrote
Read the massive body of text above
I already did twice, in fact. Why do you think I have those questions.

You can't describe this "vision", which, according to the review negates improvements such as better balanced story, better graphics, team mode, etc?

Eh, just forget it.
4 years ago
Itagaki is Ninja Gaiden, and for the second time in as many attempts, Hayashi has made that very clear.

Oh, and Jeremy - you didn’t mention the most innovative new addition to the series – boob jiggling via sixaxis! Now this is what Ninja Gaiden was meant to be!

R.I.P.

Fluffmon wrote
Jahanzeb wrote
Read the massive body of text above
I already did twice, in fact. Why do you think I have those questions.

You can't describe this "vision", which, according to the review negates improvements such as better balanced story, better graphics, team mode, etc?
Because reading comprehension isn’t a strong point?

What story? Team mode is a joke, not an improvement, and takes away heavily from the satisfaction of completing said missions. The only improvement to the game was graphically, and even then that doesn’t mean much, considering the original looked sweet. Slowdown was indeed a major issue (unforgivable), but was somewhat fixed after numerous (but dodgy) patches. For the rest, refer to the well-written and informative review.
4 years ago
Bloody Tears wrote
Itagaki is Ninja Gaiden, and for the second time in as many attempts, Hayashi has made that very clear.

Oh, and Jeremy - you didn’t mention the most innovative new addition to the series – boob jiggling via sixaxis! Now this is what Ninja Gaiden was meant to be!
You can't tell me old cookie face wouldn't have been totally for that sixaxis boob jiggling!

As for Sigma 2 vs NG2, I sold my copy of NG2 and picked up a copy of Sigma. The frame rate issues made it unfinishable for me. Simply UNFORGIVABLE (I can't stress that enough) in an game such as this. As long as NG2 has them and Sigma does not, then in my opinion Sigma remains the superior game regardless of other changes.
4 years ago
I was almost gonna buy this for the bargain price at Game ...


Now that Bayonetta is out, this can go into my purchase list for Christmas next year
4 years ago
I guess I disagree with this review pretty strongly. I have this game on 360 and PS3 (crazy right?)and the PS3 version is clearly the better game. Shame they removed the blood from PS3 but in all other respects it is a better game on the Playstation console (just like Bayonetta is better on the 360).

Really it doesn't matter which console you get it on. If you like NG then you will have fun with either game.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  8/10/2009 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  THQ
Genre:
  Action
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  1

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