Game Review: Ninja Gaiden 2
Release: June 03, 2008
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: Mature
(The game itself does not look like the screenshots I'm using for this write-up. All of these images have been beautified from the team at Tecmo and Microsoft.)
How should I sum up Ninja Gaiden 2? I guess the easiest way to sum it up is to tell you about it. Here is a little description of the game that is taken directly from Xbox.com
[quote]Ninja Gaiden II makes its long-awaited debut on Xbox 360 as the blockbuster action-packed sequel to Ninja Gaiden. Ninja Gaiden II features a new and improved game engine, developed from the ground up exclusively for Microsoft and Xbox 360 by Team Ninja and legendary game developer Tomonobu Itagaki, creator of the famed Dead or Alive franchise.
Guide Ryu Hayabusa on a mission to avenge his clan and prevent the destruction of the human race. Armed with an assortment of ninja weaponry, help Ryu to skillfully maneuver through a world fraught with peril and danger. Ninja Gaiden II features an all-new gameplay engine, new auto-health regeneration system, levels, adventures, enemies, and thrilling combat with an extensive assortment of ninja weaponry, representing a true evolution of the highly popular franchise.[/quote]
Now why did I just tell you what they said? Well, that's because I feel that it isn't worth my time and effort to come up with something new. Kind of what Team Ninja did when they released Ninja Gaiden 2. Now, I'm not doing a full review of this games because the game just got old and, like I said before, this isn't anything really new. I've been there, done that and, for that reason, this game was a major turn off for me. Let me go ahead and get right into the scores.
The cut scenes in Ninja Gaiden 2 look extremely nice, its essentially like watching a CGI movie right on your big screen TV (for those of you that own big screen TVs). And remember the way the first Ninja Gaiden stunned you when it came out for the original Xbox? Well I'm sorry to tell you but your not going to get that feeling again, at least not from this sequel of the franchise. Except for more blood and more decapitation animations there isn't really anything new in the visual department. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing because of how great the first version looked, but when you realize that Ninja Gaiden 1 came out in February of 2004, it really does leave a lot to be desired. With 4 years and 2 remakes later I guess I just wanted to see that step up that I was hoping for out of Ninja Gaiden 2. Even with all this, that graphics still really are not that bad, just don't expect to be blown away with them.
Nothing in Ninja Gaiden 2 as far as sound goes will really impress you. Everything is done pretty well but this seems to take after the graphics category where nothing is really original. Everything kind of sounds a lot like the first iteration of the game, so that really means one of two things. Either the first Ninja Gaiden 1 did everything right, or just Ninja Gaiden 2 seems to have nothing new to the table. The throwing stars sound like throwing stars (at least the way I would imagine), the jumping sounds like jumping and the blades clanking when the hit against each other sound like blades clanking against each other. I do have one issue with the audio, and this is why I gave it a B- instead of a B: the character dialog. It just seems really dry to me, not just the lines but the way the characters are saying the lines.
As gameplay is one of the most important things that I look for in my games, this is also one of the things that I judge the hardest. Lets all be upfront with each other about what Ninja Gaiden has always been, a hack and slash game. It is nothing more than that right there. Now there are several different combos that you can do and you can master. And speaking of mastering combos, Ninja Gaiden 2 does a pretty decent job rewarding you in doing so. For pretty much every combo in the game, when done correctly you will earn an Xbox Achievement. I actually felt that this is kind of nice because the game is rewarding you for learning and mastering the proper way to go about it. Besides that though, you can actually beat most of the levels with just the A and Y button, trust me, it isn't that difficult to do. Add in your blocking and timing and you will, for the most part, breeze right though the game, that is, until you get to the boss battles. Luckily right before each big battle there is a save point, the reason for this is because as the game goes on, you will end up using that save point more and more as you die. This is where Ninja Gaiden wore on me in the past and it will in this one too. For some gamers, the bosses will get so frustrating that they will drive you to the point where the game isn't enjoyable for you anymore. This type of gameplay doesn't mean that your not good at games, it just means that the developer doesn't seem to care about reaching the gaming audience as a whole. That instead they seem to care only about those that enjoy these extremely annoying battles, and if you are one of those types of gamers, the type that wants those long hard fought out battles, then Ninja Gaiden 2 is the game for you. That is why even though I seemed to trash the gameplay of Ninja Gaiden 2, I still game it a B, because if you are the target audience, you will surly enjoy this game.
While overly complex at times, you will get the hang of it. Your pretty much use the block, hard strike, jump and the thumbstick the most. As the game goes on your need to start mastering the controller more and more if you want to be successful at the game but you will learn it over time. Still though, Ninja Gaiden 2 isn't your pick up and play type of game. It definitely has a learning curve.
Probably the weakest point in this game is the replay. Now Ninja Gaiden 2 is a single player game, it does this in a era when almost every other major game has some type of online multiplayer. Now I won't mark Ninja Gaiden 2 down for this, but at the same time I refuse to overlook the fact. Other then online leaderboards, there really is no way in interact with your friends. And, unless your the type of player that will go back and beat this game over again after you did it the first time, there really isn't any replay value either. Now, if you are that type, I guess you're in luck because there are many difficulties that you can play this on as well as online Master Ninja Tournament that will be happening at later dates. This, however, for the majority of gamers, isn't something that we will be participating in nor would we play it again after beating it the first time.
With the lack of a replay value and the cost of 59.99 I am really not a fan of the value. Yes the game looks pretty, but in the end its just a beautified single player hack and slash that doesn't seem worth 59.99.
As I said before, Ninja Gaiden 2 really doesn't seem to bring that much new to the table. Maybe it was because of the two releases between this version and the original but everything thing seems to have been done that this seems nothing more then like an add-on pack or map-pack to a game like Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Now you might say that just shows how well the first one was made. I'll give you that but, nevertheless, I wanted more and that is something that I didn't get from this title. But, with all that being said, the game still has its good points at times and can be enjoyable. Just don't count on anything new.
Steve's Bottom Line
If you liked the first 3 entries in this franchise (Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden Sigma) then you'll surely want to pick this up. If not, stay away as this will not be the game for you.