Ninja Gaiden sigma PS3 Review

Ninja Gaiden Sigma is the third edition of Ninja Gaiden and since it has most of the additional content of Black, along with some refinements and new additions all of its own, Sigma is easily the definitive version of the classic Ninja adventure, and before you ask, no there’s no decapitations in this European version.

You play the role of Ryu Hayabusa (the star of the old games, that some may recognise from the Dead or Alive series) in his attempts to retrieve a powerful sword stolen from his village. Whilst we appreciated the chance to switch the dodgy American voices to Japanese for an authentic Ninja experience, enjoyed some gorgeous FMV sequences (not enough of this lovely eye candy these days) and liked the fact that Rachel’s (more on her later) missions fills in some of the plot holes. The story itself however is rarely engaging.

But as those that have already played it to death well know, Ninja Gaiden was never about a compelling narrative. It’s all about the fast, furious and intelligent combat.

Those that have never played any of the previous editions, will die a lot and that’s a guarantee, that is until you learn the ins and outs of the combat system. Here there’s an emphasis on blocking, dodging and countering enemy attacks, if you don’t learn these all important factors, you’ll die (even at the hands of the lowliest of enemies) simple as that. Once things do click though, you’ll find a game that brutally punishes mistakes, but rewards skilful play.

For those who previously learned its brutal but fair ways, by playing Ninja Gaiden and its refined version (Black) there’s a better version here for you. Items have been moved, new weapons have been included, there’s less respawning enemies (still a bit of a frequent annoyance though) Ryu can now run on water simply just by moving the stick, shaking the Sixaxis whilst casting Ninpo (it’s ninja magic) will power it up, AI behaviour has been tweaked, and restorative items can be used without having to visit the menu amongst other welcome changes. All this along with most of the content that was included in Black, including the controllable camera (which sadly still lets down on occasion), the majority of weapons and costumes, and the easy going ninja dog difficulty, but that’s for wimps!

But without doubt the biggest new feature is the inclusion of Rachel, the leather clad huntress with the freakily oversized breasts (with this being a Team Ninja game they of course bounce like jelly) as a playable character. With her heavy, powerful axe and sluggish movement, Rachel bucks the trend of nimble, but weak female playable characters, and, whilst she’s enjoyable to play as and very much a worthwhile addition, she simply isn’t as fun to play as Ryu is.

Despite all of the new features, many returning players will get an unpleasant feeling of déjà vu, perhaps wishing they were playing Ninja Gaiden 2 as opposed to just a simple remake of the original game. Others will be happy to just revisit the fond memories that any of the previous Xbox editions may have conjured up.

The game may be a dramatic improvement, visually speaking over the original game, we were however simply expecting more loveliness from such a mighty console and talented development team. Don’t get us wrong it does look beautiful and has the bonus of being able to be played in HD. But why is it, that the blood splashing effect is sometimes in mid air? We demand absolute polish from the usually technically spotless Team Ninja.

Ninja Gaiden’s well crafted combat system is just as satisfying today as it was back in 2004 and we feel first timers are in for a treat, whilst the hardcore fans of the game will be looking to own the definitive version of one of the finest action games ever made. That it stars a ninja only makes it better, as ninjas are the best!