Ninja Gaiden II

posted June 14, 2008 12:06:00 AM CDT | 3 comments

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When the first Ninja Gaiden was released on Xbox 360, gamers everywhere rejoiced. The game was simply beautiful, controls were extremely responsive, action was fluid and varied and the overall gaming experience was fresh and innovative. Even the level of difficulty gave a gamer a feeling of life accomplishment when finally rumbling to the finale. So what is there to expect when Ryu Hayabusa makes his return in the sequel? A whole lot right? Unfortunately, those expectations aren’t quite met in Ninja Gaiden II.

What Ninja Gaiden II does right is simple: action. The fighting sequences in the sequel are often brutal fits of blood, fury and madness. Even the most jaded gamer will gleefully giggle his/her way the multiple dismemberments and sleek and sexy combinations with a multitude of fancy weapons. The action never really gets repetitive and  the plethora of weapons will give Ryu numerous ways to off a villain.

Visually the game is nothing short of stellar. Aside from some nasty hiccups in frame rate when too many bad guys enter a fighting melee, the game glides along brilliantly. The environments are solid and the blood flows at a ridiculously high rate. The camera angles, however, flat out stink. When zooming in to give you a beautiful view of Ryu’s dismemberment of another character, the camera tends to give you horrific angles and you’ll often find yourself flailing away blindly because you can see nobody but yourself. This is quite painful during a few boss battles where the enemy is quite large and since Ryu has to pull off some nifty dodging to stay alive, the camera can’t keep up and you’ll find yourself staring at a wall while being pummeled to death. Outside of that though, Ninja Gaiden II is a aesthetically pleasing game.

The first Ninja Gaiden had a level of difficulty that gamers adored. It wasn’t a breeze and definitely had its difficult moments. This gave a gamer a level of accomplishment when conquering the first installment. You had to be quick, clever and smooth with your movements to get by. In part 2 you’ll find yourself dying endlessly because of the game’s maddening difficulty. There’s a different between “hard” and “cheap” and Ninja Gaiden II definitely leans more toward the latter than the former. Some boss battles are nothing more than a mash button fest and strategy is completely out the window. Just get lucky and hit them more than they hit you and you win. The boss battles leave something to be desired because the difficulty is totally uneven. One boss, in particular, will lull you in to thinking you have won. But then will blow up in your face and take you with it. You have no clue its coming and assuredly will be pissed off to the highest degree when it happens. What is more infuriating is having to figure out exactly how to get out of the way of this when you beat him again. Another boss will be quite difficult but if you figure out how to get him stuck in the wall via a gaming glitch, you can easily thrash him. Ninja Gaiden is an absolute crazy house experiment on the mind.

The story is pretty much pointless. It flat out makes zero sense and just gives the gamer something to look at in between button mashing sequences. It goes something like, “Ryu-girl-archfiends-girl stolen-kill them all-fight them all again at the end-fight the final boss many times in different forms-the end.” Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Sprinkle some dialog here and there and you have Ninja Gaiden II.

Ninja Gaiden II is a solid game but it leaves something to be desired. It’s not the mind blowing gaming experience the first installment had. It just seems like a minor league upgrade and that is okay if you aren’t looking for something innovative and new. But with the Xbox 360s powerful engine, you would expect vast improvements over the first. It’s definitely worth giving a try, just don’t expect significant improvements over the first.

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