Recently, I got my hands on Ninja Gaiden II. As anyone who played the original Xbox's version of Ninja Gaiden, I was pretty excited to find out how the game had changed with the leap of generations.
After checking out the newest Rock Band tracks (holy shit I have so many songs on my to-download list), I booted Ninja Gaiden II. The first thing I noticed was a 5 sec loading even before the title screen. No biggie, I guess. Grand Theft Auto has been doing this since III with even longer loads.
I start up a new game and watch the opening cinematic. It makes me sad to inform everyone that the new Ninj Gaiden girl isn't as hot as Rachel. Those looking for big boobs will of course find them since this is a Team Ninja game. Anyway, the opening scene isn't that exciting and it certainly lacks the whole "next-gen" feel. Anyone ever noticed the difference between watching a TV show and watching a video on a video-cam? Well, the cutscenes felt like that.
Enough about that, though. It is the gameplay that matters, right? The gameplay is just filled with blood and flying limbs. That new feature where limbless enemies become kamikazes if you don't finish them off is truly a pain in the ass sometimes, but man, does it make the game feel even better. All your standard moves are here and after a bit of practice I managed to even pull off that move were Ryu grabs his enemy in the air and slams him headfirst into the ground. It's so empowering.
As usual, I'm quite bored with the weapon upgrades. The staff is just horrible, and the bear-like claws are useless against bosses and should be only used when surrounded by low-level ninjas.
Speaking of bosses, holy crap. They are so awesome and so punishing. Minor spoilers follow.
The first boss (which is reused on the second chapter) is a huge spider-like creature the likes of which are born in hell. Now, maybe I don't know eneough about the series, but it'd sure be nice to know where the fuck it came from and how it was carried all the way up to the airship thingy you fight on. He's not that hard but if you're hit by his attacks, man, you're fucked.
STILL MINOR SPOILERS
. The second boss is the leader of the Black Spider clan and even though he's also not impossibly difficult (this is, of course, just the second chapter), you'll likely reach him without any health revitalizers left. This made this battle awesome and incredibly rewarding to me, and if you're in the same position as I was, you'll probably love it, too.
The worst thing I found about Ninja Gaiden II is that it is completely last-gen. The graphics may look a bit nicer, but all of the environments are closed off, invisible walls abound, and loading times can occur in the most inopurtune times (I've had some 5 sec loads whenever I perform a Flying Swallow attack that goes out of the "area").
Anyway, I'm sure you've already made up your mind about getting this or not, but I thought the community would like a regular gamer's point of view on this. It's not that I don't think you should trust Nick's opinion (which, strangely enough, is very much like mine), but I know reviewers can feel jaded after playing so many games, having being one myself.
p.s. Amazing glitch time: in the second chapter, I was surrounded by enemies in a low-ceiling building. I perform the air-grabbing headfirst landing move and the games glitched out. I was out of the building in a black hole of emptiness for about 10 secs until the game resetted and put me back in the building. The enemy I had attacked disappeared into oblivion, though.