Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 PS3 Review

Ninja Gaiden 2 was gory, by gory I don’t mean a splash of blood here and there, but rather I’m talking of limbs that could be lopped off, leaving a bloody mess that would probably result in overtime for the cleaners. This PS3 release of Tecmo’s sequel does away with much of the gore, but that isn’t all that’s different about this second Sigma release.

Indeed, there’s new characters to play as, new bosses, some of the tougher sections have been axed, and there’s also a new Team Mission mode. Also new, but less exciting, is a mandatory 10 minute install when you first boot up the game, although at least we’re treated to a stylish comic-like prologue (it’s much better than Metal Gear Solid 4‘s installation screen, which includes a rather ironic health warning message whilst Solid Snake chain-smokes on the very same screen) that gives us all something to do whilst we wait for the PS3 to finish its task. All future installs should really take note.

Sigma 2’s campaign is actually longer than that of the original Ninja Gaiden 2, longer because three playable characters have been introduced to the game. Those who have played the original Sigma will be familiar with Rachel (she’s still not very nimble) as a playable character, although joining her on this sequel are Dead or Alive’s Ayane (very nimble and has purple hair) and Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword’s Momiji (fast like Ayane but with a longer reach). This trio only appear in a mission each throughout the lengthy story (speaking of which, it doesn‘t make much sense and is rather flimsy), though they’re still welcome additions, all the same.

If you do want to see more of the new characters, the introduction of the fun Team Mission mode allows you to do just that. This mode can be played in single player or online, but whichever one you opt for you’ll be playing cooperatively with a partner. Missions are split into difficulties and the characters and weapons that are open to you are determined by your progress in the campaign. You’ll be taking on the usual enemies as well as those nasty bosses, and this mode is very much about the combat. Online, the game runs smoothly enough, though it’s a shame there isn’t a local multiplayer option, as well.

Back to the campaign, for most of the time you’ll be playing as Ryu Hayabusa, the masked, green-eyed, hero ninja of the series, though effort has been placed in making his journey an easier one. Segments of the game have been removed and altered, making it feel less unfair than first time around, thus there won’t be evil beings firing a barrage of rockets towards your position, lets face it that was just the enemies not playing very fair.

Being Ninja Gaiden, you’ll still have to block, counter and use Ryu’s dash move to avoid incoming attacks, though. Harder difficulty levels eventually become open to you, and it’s these that the skilled Ninja Gaiden player will be most satisfied with, whilst the lowly ninja amongst us are given the opportunity to see much more of the game with the initial two available difficulties, even to reach that fabled end sequence perhaps.

The game has a recharging health system, though the difference here is that it doesn’t necessarily recharge fully nor does it top up whilst you’re stabbing enemies and slicing limbs off of bodies. Red areas of the health bar can only be turned into an healthy green once again by picking up or using health, which means that taking damage will cause the amount of health in the bar to shrink, obviously, with that said, you’ll want to see more green than red within that bar: green good, red bad.

The actual combat is heavy on the combos and many of the normal enemies prove to be a challenge if you ignore the art of dodging, blocking and countering. Speaking of enemies, dismembering them may no longer result in rivers of the red stuff, although it still makes them frequently more dangerous: losing a leg (how careless) for example and then lying in wait to pounce on you with health bar impacting results. It’s certainly best to get rid of them as soon as you possibly can, well it’s either that or risk getting a lot of damage sent your way.

Visually, the game looks lovely and runs very smoothly for the most part, and the camera has even had some seeing to. Your view can still become obscured at times, though the camera is more reliable than it previously was, making for a more pleasant experience, even if the game doesn’t contain any fluffy animals to make it even more so.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is a fantastic version of the wonderful Ninja Gaiden 2. The blood may be missed for those who like sharp objects causing a mess after being driven through bodies, and the camera could hardly be called perfect, though combined with the skill-based combat of the series, the rebalanced difficulty and the Team Missions makes this the best version to own.