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Tobias Szymanski "Tumotu" (Germany)
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Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (PS3)
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (PS3)
Price: 12.63

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Hack n Slay on Ps3, 26 Oct 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
After a lengthy 8 minute install, you begin the game. The wait is made a little better (or worse, depending on your perspective) by a series of comic book stills with cheesy voices and sound effects while it's copying. The improvements are vast and numerous, starting with the graphics. As good as the 360 version was, Sigma 2 is better. Enemies are lavishly detailed, moves are flashy and spectacular with terrific lighting effects, and bosses are absolutely HUGE. Some levels, gameplay mechanics and enemies received small tweaks, and some are completely revamped. I beat the 360 version and now having completed Sigma 2, I can say that playing the PS3 version is almost like a new experience, especially because of the introduction of several new bosses, online play, mission mode, and 3 new playable characters: Momiji, Rachael, and Ayane. There are a total of 17 levels, 2 or 3 of which are totally new (1 level each for the playable characters). There is none of the slowdown that plagued the 360 version, although I noticed that some bodies now vaporize in order to save processing power. Story is pretty much nonsense and a lot less focused than Ninja Gaiden/Sigma, having you jump around the world, so just ignore it.

First of the changes is the oft-mentioned easier difficulty. I played on "Path of the Warrior" ("Path of the Acolyte" is the other starting difficulty) and found it very easy to defeat many of the bosses. You can just brute-force attack many of them and spam with the same moves over and over. This is how I defeated most of the bosses, even the later ones in the game. The last 3 bosses are especially easy. Arrows and projectiles are on auto-aim. Often you can just jump up and shoot blindly while facing in the direction of opponents. Pushing L1 also snaps to targets, making it very easy to kill attackers from a distance, especially those annoying archers or rocket launcher soldiers. Arrows (and all projectile weapons, including Ayane's exploding shuriken and Rachel's sub-machine gun) are now unlimited, removing a lot of the tactical decision-making and conserving you need to do. You can also move now while aiming, which is a plus. Gone are Ryu's windmill shuriken and incendiary shuriken. I miss the windmill shuriken.

Powering up your Ultimate Technique now is a lot faster it seems. The controls are very forgiving and don't require precise timing as they did in the past. Many of the combos also seem easier to execute and often times, I wonder if I've been triggering combo fatalities by accident. Items and save points are much more numerous. This is the first game in the series where I've actually had a problem with too many items. You can only carry a max of 3 of each of the restore items (small health restore, big health restore, magic restore). Items don't increase in price each time you buy them from Muramasa like they did before. Also, a big change is that he now upgrades your weapons for free. There is usually one or two upgrade statue per level. You can upgrade one weapon once per shop. Previous versions allowed you to upgrade whenever you wanted, as long as you had the money (very expensive), forcing you to save up and strive for more ultimate technique kills because they rewarded you with more essence. The abundance of items and the free upgrades makes collecting essence now rather pointless, because you'll have all this money but nothing to buy. Lastly, load times after dying have been greatly reduced to a few seconds, removing a lot of frustration experienced by players in previous NG games. The downside is that menu load times are inordinately long. If you find a magic scroll or technique scroll, it can take several seconds for the demo video to load, and several seconds after pushing X to close the screen.

Next is the toned-down violence. The menu system is now painted blue instead of red blood splatters. Arms, legs and heads can get chopped off, but they disappear in a wisp of blue ether instead of rolling onto the floor. In the 360 version, heads rolled everywhere and buckets of blood sprayed out from severed limbs. It's all gone here.

New bosses include a giant Buddhist statue at the end of the first level, a pair of tengu, and even the Statue of Fricking Liberty! Some of the bosses have their special attacks removed and made a lot less aggressive about attacking and blocking. You no longer have to time attacks perfectly. Just button mash.

Thankfully, a lot of the "cheap" moments players complained about from Sigma are gone. The piranha ghost fish are still here though, but those extremely annoying exploding jellyfish are gone. Gone also is the ridiculous ability to swim in lava. "Invisible walls" are also a lot less apparent. In the previous game, areas that looked like you could walk around are unreachable, destroying the illusion of depth. In Sigma 2, it's not as noticeable.

Weapons are fun to use, with some being very flashy and cool to see in action, like the tonfa, which turns Ryu into a lethal whirlwind of skull and limb cracking goodness. I don't ever get tired of powering up Ryu and seeing him go berserk on a group of bad guys. Locales include a futuristic Tokyo, NYC, Venice, South America, Mt. Fuji, some non-descript sewers and tunnels of hell or some other demonic dimensional warp. Sky City Tokyo is beautiful and lovingly rendered. NYC is less so. Times Square, Brooklyn, and Liberty Island look bland and inauthentic (because I live here). Some of the levels feel recycled directlty from Sigma (Airship Daedalus = airship stage from previous, Draga Dai = Vigoor city, sewers, lava levels).

Verdict:

Are all the gameplay changes good? No. Is Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 fun? Yes, without a doubt. I enjoyed playing the new sexy female characters and the mission mode. It's a shame you can't play the entire game as one of the girls and you lose all your weapons when you begin a new game. One of the weirdest, most juvenile and sexist things you can do is jiggle the girls' goodies with the SIXAXIS.

Replaying on Path of the Mentor (unlocked by beating the game), I found it a lot harder and I got killed several times on level 1 by even minor enemies. They are a lot more lethal and harder to kill. Too bad this difficulty wasn't available at the very beginning to choose from. Chapter Mode also opens up, which lets you choose any chapter to replay.

All in all, a fun game with good replay value, and I'm glad I bought it. It's a stunning display of the PS3's capabilities and a blast to play as everyone's favorite ninja.


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