Ninja Gaiden II opened to mix reviews for the Xbox 360, which was very surprising considering the universal acclaim of the first entry in the Microsoft Era of Gaiden. The main issues that plagued the second entry were cheap deaths, camera issues, and a lack of character that the first iteration had in spades.
Sigma 2 for the PlayStation 3 attempts to re-invigorate the franchise with a new character (Ayane), and new gameplay options such as coop. While the build we played on the floor was single-player only, I did get a chance to check out how Ayane controlled. Read on to find out how it measures up.
Let me start off by saying that I was a huge fan of the original Ninja Gaiden, but I did feel like the Ninja Gaiden II was lacking the magic of the original. From what I played of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, it doesn’t quite live up to the original’s name, but it is an improvement on the original sequel for the 360. The PlayStation 3 controls just “feel right”, and everything works how it should.
While the Ryu part of the demonstration build is the exact same as the 360 demo available on Xbox Live, the Ayane section was considerably different. You’re immediately dropped into a Venetian sector very similar to a level in the original Ninja Gaiden. After being swarmed by enemies, I quickly realized that Ayane felt completely different to her male counterpart; something that was both good and bad.
My favorite action-game longevity booster is, in fact, additional unique characters, so I was enthralled when I found out Ayane actually felt different. But by the same token, I did feel like she was much harder to use, and considerably weaker. Whether or not the official stance of Team Ninja is “Ayane is a handicap” is as yet unknown.
Ayane still has the same “swan dive” attack as Ryu (which you can use by pressing triangle, or “Y” on the 360), but her normal attacks and projectiles are completely different. Obviously, the “female ninjas are quick but weak” stereotype solidified in the Tenchu series is found here, and her projectile is a single, slow attack, rather than Ryu’s rapid-fire shurikens. Her ninpo attack is a very similar AOE (area of effect) explosion that, of course, has remnants of flowers in the aura.
Just to be sure, I also played the Ryu campaign, and it felt exactly the same. I honestly didn’t feel the “camera improvement” that was rumored to be applied to Sigma 2, although it wasn’t absolutely terrible. Overall, Sigma 2 is shaping up to be a “must-own classic” as opposed to the “wait for the bargain bin” that was Ninja Gaiden 2 for the 360. I wish that co-op was playable, but odds are it’s going to make this ride even more worthwhile.
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