previews\ Jul 29, 2009 at 8:00 pm

NINJA GAIDEN SIGMA 2 - PS3 - Preview 2

Shadows crawl across the streets, making the night that blankets the city all the darker. But it is not merely the darkness that sets the senses aflame and begs for caution; within the darkness there is something more, something malevolent, something or things thirsty to kill. The city sits on the edge of evil-driven madness, and within that moment is thrust the warriors who have a chance to stop it.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, for the PS3 home console system, is a stunning visceral experience, with some of the arcade-style play that one would expect from a third-person action-adventure title. Enemies die and leave life residue behind that is absorbed by the hero.

NINJA GAIDEN SIGMA 2 PlayStation 3 screenshots

Tecmo sent out a demo disk of the game, featuring three heroes, fixed levels that only went so far before ending with the cliffhanging message of “coming this fall” (the game is actually slated for a late September release). It was too little in a game that featured several jaw-dropping moments; especially when it came to the finishing moves that your protagonist can pull off in sometimes delightfully slow motion.

And writing of which, it needs to be mentioned that the game is a bit on the bloody side. Ryu Hayabusa can swap out to clawed weapons as you play through his pro-offered level, and during the course of his slice-and-dice combat, the glittering metallic blades become rather bloody. Pause a moment and Ryu will shake the blades, leaving pools of blood at his feet.

Game features, according to the Tecmo official release, include:

  • Team Missions that allow for online co-op play with voice chat, 10 different stages, four difficulty settings for each stage, with results posted on an online leaderboard

  • There are more than 30 unique characters in 17 levels and a total of 70 cut scenes to drive the stories

  • Each level, even the ones you repeat, has variable AI, which means that you can’t bank on the level playing out the same way it did the previous time

  • Upgradeable weapons and new battle techniques; additionally, the weapons can be leveled up to improve their attributes

  • Full 1080p output and 5.1 surround sound

While there were several playable characters in the build received (Ryu, Ayane from the Dead or Alive series and Momiji, from Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword), each has his or her own story arc with bosses that require some thought before you go plowing in. Only one of the characters had a boss to battle and the straight-up attack was useless, while the special Ninpo attack (you accumulate red orbs to power it up and then release it with the triangle and circle buttons, creating a whirling vortex of fire that does – to most enemies – impressive damage) did damage but seemed to infuriate the level boss.

NINJA GAIDEN SIGMA 2 PlayStation 3 screenshots

As mentioned, the game has arcade attributes, including health meters and such, but the action is so fast and furious that it is possible to forget about all that in the effort to block and counterattack the enemies that swarm towards your character. And yes, you can pause the game, pop a health herb to replenish your health, and then return to the battle.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is clearly one of those games that is immersive, and visually impressive. The controls are intuitive, and while there is a certain amount of button mashing initially, as you unlock battle moves, the game takes on a fast-paced strategic element that has you thinking an attack sequence, or two (or three), in advance.

Ok, so it was only a small taste, but it was clearly enough to whet the appetite, and start to look forward to the end of September when this game will ship. While Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 may not be an innovatively defining moment in the next-gen console games, it clearly has taken some of the best elements and personalized them to create a game that certain to please fans of the Ninja Gaiden series as well and wow newcomers to the franchise.

NINJA GAIDEN SIGMA 2 PlayStation 3 screenshots

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