Ryu Hayabusa might be a household name among evil ninja clans, but he's going to have to make way for two more heroes in his latest outing. Alongside Ryu, Sigma 2 features two new playable characters in the way of Dead or Alive's Ayane and Momiji from Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword. At a Koei Tecmo event in central London today, we spent some hands-on time with Momiji's campaign, but if that's not enough, you can also watch (Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2--Ayane Gameplay Movie) Ayane and Ryu's (Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2--Ryu Gameplay Movie) campaigns in action in our previous coverage.
Momiji was introduced to audiences in Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword on the DS, and she's back for more hacking and slashing in Sigma 2. Donning some red leather pants and a white blouse, Momiji certainly looks the part in a Tecmo game, and with that sort of getup, she's certain to send pulses racing for both fans and foes. While her diminutive stature can be deceiving, she is certainly not helpless and sports a sizable sword, called the Heavenly Dragon Naginata, to let ninja dogs know who is boss. Despite her appearance, and from what we saw, Momiji plays similarly to Ryu and is just as fast and formidable with a blade. She's able to leap through the air, dash, slice, dice, and more, with similar physics to Ryu, at least in the level we played. If you've experienced Ninja Gaiden before, you'll be familiar with the control scheme. Momiji can perform light and heavy attacks, use such projectiles as her Heavensong bow and arrow, and use magic scrolls. While the developers are focusing on a brand new camera to replace the aggravating one last seen in Ninja Gaiden II, we experienced some frustration as it had the uncanny knack of hiding behind pillars in the height of combat. Thankfully, you can adjust it with the right analog stick; however, we hope that the final build will include a much more sensible camera.
Momiji will have her work cut out for her in Sigma 2, and we encountered a range of agile and dangerous foes. At first, there are relatively easy ninjas equipped with swords; however, it won't be long before you run into bigger ones. We saw several that levitate off the ground and have the ability to teleport, as well as boasting a powerful attack that causes a volcanic explosion to appear beneath you. Fighting several of these at a time, alongside regular foes, can be difficult, and you'll want to thin their ranks as soon as possible. At the end of our stage, we encountered a formidable boss in the form of a blue-skinned winged demon. Dressed in a gi and sporting a giant mace, he's certainly there to take care of Momiji and can quickly reduce your health unless you plan your attack carefully.
Even at an early stage, Sigma 2 is looking like a visual treat, which is of course what we've come to expect from Team Ninja's titles. We're pleased to report that both Momiji and her assailants are highly detailed and their animations flow incredibly smoothly. Likewise, the environment is also a feast for the eyes, and both the buildings, in the way of traditional Japanese huts and a bustling skyline behind it, and the almost iridescent cherry blossoms we spotted look fantastic. We look forward to seeing what else Team Ninja has in store for us in later levels.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is due to slice and dice its way onto the PlayStation 3 this autumn in both North America and Europe. Stay tuned as we sneak out more information on Sigma 2 during the coming months.