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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Tecmo / Microsoft
Developed By: Team Ninja
Genre: Third-Person Action
Rated: M (Mature)
Players: 1
Release Date: June 3, 2008
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

When you think of Ninja Gaiden, generally the wordsÖ bloody, very difficult, and visually impressive come to mind. When the franchise made its debut on the original Xbox, there was no other title out that generation that could match its visuals, let alone its intense action throughout the entire title. Though not a breakthrough success like the Halo series, the modern era of gaming found itself being re-invented through the eyes of Tomonobu Itagaskiís creation. Soon after, Tecmo would go on to develop an expansion pack for this title in the form of Ninja Gaiden Black.

As the next-gen era kicked off, Tecmo decided to re-release both Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden Black on the PS3 in the form of Ninja Gaiden Sigma. What separated Sigma from the previous releases were enhanced visuals, the ability to play as Rachael and a few additional weapons. While many saw this as a sign of Tecmo possibly bringing Ninja Gaiden II to the PS3 (alongside the Xbox 360), I think Tecmo released the title to make some extra money, while also testing next-gen consoles for their capabilities. Ultimately, Tecmo and Itagaski decided to keep the title exclusive to the Xbox 360, and thus we have the true sequel to Ninja Gaiden.

Adopters of the Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden Black will feel a sense of renewed passion as they do battle against a whole new breed of enemy. The action within Ninja Gaiden II has been kicked into overdrive, resulting in practically every battle you engage in being intense, often times frustrating to get through. Though not as difficult as the original, this title will definitely challenge the experienced player; while just annihilate newcomers to the series. You often find your opponents taking nasty cheap shots, which sometimes you canít see coming due to the horrible camera work, or because for some reason you can pull off a counter fast enough to stop the oncoming attack. Touching based on the camera work a bit more, to tell you the truth, it seems that nothing in regards to the camera has been resolved. You will find yourself dealing with enemy attacks coming from off-screen and awkward camera angles after finishing a devastating combo.

However, like any challenging game, there are rewards for dedication and follow-through. Several new weapons are introduced in the game and the ability to dismember your enemies on the fly. Whether it be a head, arm, leg, or the entire upper body, Ryu is hell bent on completing his mission by any means necessary and spreading the blood of his fallen victims any and everywhere he possibly can. Just imagine of Tecmo took it one step further, and allowed you to use the limbs of your opponents to reek damage on enemies, that would certainly be shear bliss. There is a new and improved health system, which allows you to regenerate health upon finishing off an encounter. This feature doesnít include replenishing the red portion of your health bar, which can only be done via a certain items or a quick save of your game. Combos and UTs (Ultimate Techniques) have been extended, creating new and very effective ways to kill your enemies. Depending on the weapon being wielded at the time, you can let off 10-15 hit combos within a single opponent. For those skilled enough, they can utilized floating essence orbs to power up the UT, thus letting them string together various attacks, capping the moment of within a devastating finisher.

In comparison to the original title, the only area of Ninja Gaiden II that seems to have been upgraded with a positive spin is the visuals. Not to say there arenít improvements within other areas, but you can tell a lot of time has been put into representing various locations, including a recreation of downtown Tokyo. While the game is very linear, the backdrops within Ninja Gaiden II are highly detailed and polished over, putting this title on par with Ninja Gaiden Sigma for the PS3. The musical soundtrack is on par with previous NG titles, offering up engaging scores that fit the mood at the time. Just like previous titles, most of the story is told through the cutscenes, which have been rendered very well. However, judging from the progression from the original title to Ninja Gaiden II, there are several signs that the game engine used to develop this sequel is showing its age, which I think kept this game from truly shining via the Xbox hardware.

There are 14 chapters in total, taking you very exotic and immersive locations to wage war on your enemies. One minute you can be inside the Stature of Liberty, the next you could be exchanging blades with your enemies within Paris. While this title will definitely be picked up by hardcore fans, newcomers will have a hard time trying to justify purchasing a game they probably will take months on end to beat once. But at the end of the day, Itagaski, Tecmo and the Xbox 360 all combined to create a pretty, yet in-depth action title that brings the true gamer out of those who are willing to accept the challenge.


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