Awesome game i may have made sound and graphics 9 0r 8 but still the game deserves a 10 lets here it for team ninja
Ninja Gaiden has been a very long time coming. Five years in development, and delayed numerous times for ‘last minute tweaks’ that required… ooh… several more tweaks than expected, it’s finally upon us. Is it worthy of the considerable hype that it’s gathered during all this time?
Let’s find out, shall we?
The game begins with young ninja Ryu Hayabusa out training. After murdering plenty of ninjas on his way to the first boss, he soon realises that during his absence, the forces of evil have ransacked his village and stolen a demonic blade called the ‘Dark Dragon’ - a sword which has the power to absorb all the hate and chaos in the world and transform the wielder into the Devil incarnate.
Of course, Ryu’s not really all that happy about all his pals being stabbed to death either, so off he trots in order to wreak vengeance upon the perpetrators of this foul, unseemly act and maybe recover the blade somewhere along the line.
Not the most complex story in history, but it’s actually told fairly well. Not enough cutscenes to flesh it out entirely, but even so, it’s not too shabby either.
No, I’m not rating the story.
The controls in this game are almost flawless. Tell Ryu to jump, and he’ll jump. Tell him to roll, and he’ll roll – instantly. No matter how many enemies there are on screen or what they’re doing, it’s entirely within your power to decimate them without taking a hit. All the keys are laid out in a logical, accessible manner, and controlling Hayabusa, especially in the combat scenes, is nothing less than pure joy.
The genius part of the controls however, is that they reflect perfectly how good you are at the game. If you’re up to scratch, you’ll slice through your enemies like a hurricane of steel. If you’re not entirely up to it, you’ll probably be eviscerated in no time at all.
There is a blip here and there that if you’re too close to a door and press X to slash, you’ll trot off through the door rather than attacking, but it’s not a big problem. It’s happened once to me on two runs through the game.
The difficulty level is set at a fairly high level – that said, it never becomes cheap, simply because Ryu is so much better than his enemies. If you can control the game and maintain concentration through some particularly intense battles (the like of which haven’t been seen in a game before), you can coast through it feeling like a Ninja yourself.
If you’re not up to the challenge, though, you’ll probably bounce the pad around the room a few times, blame the camera, and then write up a 5/10 review and post it up somewhere in order to wreak your sour, bitter vengeance upon the game. It has that effect on some people, and there’s no easy mode – Normal mode is harder than most games out there, though never unfairly so.
Also, the moves list is exemplary. You won’t be relegated to using the same three piece combo over and over, Hayabusa has the same amount of moves you’d find in a decent beat ‘em up and has a different moveslist for each weapon he has. And there’s quite a few of them to boot, from the standard katana, to a lightning quick pair of flails, to a soul sucking demon sword, to a 100 pound greatsword used mainly by berserkers to a Warhammer you can smash down walls with.
Speaking of which, there’s a huge world to explore in search of bonuses and enemies, so get to it!
One small thing about the controls is that it’s a shame there’s no quick and easy way to change weapons, like with the D-pad for example. While it’s somewhat understandable that you can’t change your primary weapon outside the menu, it should be easier to change what type of shuriken you want to throw – and especially the type of ammunition for your bow. Going into the menu to swap between ammo types during the tank battles to choose the optimum weapon can interrupt the game just a tad too much.
Excellent. Simply excellent. They would have received a ten if not for some very minor slowdown, and the occasional odd rock texture that doesn’t quite look convincing enough.
The character models, however, are all beautiful, and they all animate wonderfully whether they’re lounging around in cutscenes, or leaping to the attack mid-battle. Decapitating them almost seems a shame at tim… actually, that’s a red faced lie. The decapitations are every bit as impressive as you’d expect.
The bosses, likewise, are inspired – check out the golden dragon later on in the game, or the first fight with Alma. They’re not merely impressive, they can be beautiful or intimidating - or even both at once.
Oh, and wait until you meet up with Rachel. It’ll remind you that this game does, after all, come from the designers of the Dead or Alive series. Her introduction is accompanied by one of the coolest – and bloodiest – CG scenes in any game to date.
Speaking of CG, there’s absolutely tons of it sprinkled throughout the game. It can be bloody on occasion, though it never goes over the top – but still enough to earn its ‘Mature’ rating.
Not really a mixed bag, so much as a lot of decent tunes mixed in with some better ones. None of them really grip you as memorable, but likewise, none of them grip you as particularly bad.
There’s some really nice tunes to be heard, ranging from classical Japanese melodies for the ninja fortress, to more modern, techno-ish themes for levels such as the military base.
You won’t be humming them like you might have with the original trilogy, but you won’t be turning the volume down, either.
Shame there’s no older Ninja Gaiden remixes thrown in, though.
As for the western voice acting – it’s actually surprisingly good. There are a few flat lines sprinkled around here and there, but Rachel in particular has a great voice, the side characters like Gamof and Murai don’t sound bad at all, and Hayabusa’s ‘I’m going to kill him’ line almost had me applauding. It was delivered perfectly.
Well, the game is about 20 hours long, and it contains the original three Ninja Gaiden games as bonuses if you’re able to get them. It has fifty hidden scarabs dotted around the world map, offering plenty of rewards for turning them into the shopkeeper. It has unlockable difficulties to uncover if the standard game isn’t tough enough for you, and a multitude of ways to approach enemies to improve your gameplay style.
I’ve played for more than 72 hours already on all difficulty levels, and I’m still enjoying it immensely. Many enemies require different approaches in how you dispose of them, there are plenty of light puzzles and a swimming section (with beautiful music) to break up the relentless action and so much to see and do that it could take a very, very long time to get bored.
So yeah, it’ll more than likely keep you addicted for a while if you can handle the challenge.
Any problems? :
That said, there are a few problems with the game. While the camera generally does a decent job of keeping up with the action, it’ll occasionally go haywire when your back is up against a wall – often zooming above you and obscuring enemies, or going into a semi-first person view that doesn’t really give you a complete idea of what’s going on around you.
I honestly never had much of a problem with it, but it has to be mentioned since without using that ‘R’ trigger, the camera can get in the way and screw you over. Had the right stick been used to pan the camera around, it would have been easier to manage – complaints that you couldn’t use such a system in battle are fair enough, but using the first person view in battle is even worse. Perhaps had they made clicking the right stick first person view, and just usual movement for third person camera panning, there would have been less cause for complaint.
And no – it’s not there to ‘increase the challenge’, it’s there because it wasn’t entirely ironed out.
The only other problem with the game is that the platforming can be a tad inaccurate at times. Hayabusa will sometimes hang onto the lip of a ledge if you run him into it, or he might decide to drop off without hanging, or sometimes simply decide to stay safely on the ledge. I haven’t figured out quite how he makes his decision, but running off a platform you think he’ll stay on, or vice versa, happens more than it should. It’s also fairly hard to stop him dead in his tracks during a wall run, so overshooting a platform sometimes happens.
Those two niggles are the sum of the game’s problems. How bad they are really depends on the player, but heck – they didn’t bother me in the slightest, save perhaps a dodgy platform bit or two.
Ten out of Ten doesn’t mean that a game is necessarily perfect, but it does mean that it stands at the forefront of its field, becoming the standard that other games of the same genre then have to aspire to.
Halo was such a game. Metroid Prime was such a game. Zelda was such a game. Splinter Cell and the original Metal Gear Solid were both examples of this too.
Ninja Gaiden, as you may have gathered, is also such a game and can stand amongst titles such as these with its head held high. In fact, it may very well be the best game I’ve played in years, and it has to be said that I’ve played more than my fair share. The combat is so fresh and intuitive, the exploration so fleshed out and enjoyable and the overall effect so polished and impressive that it’s a tough game not only to conquer, but also to put down.
It comfortably takes the ephemeral ‘besst action game ev3r, guyz!!!’ crown from Devil May Cry (which I never really liked that much – go figure) and places it firmly atop its own noble head. It probably also wears a cape just to complete the look and show how majestic and wonderful it truly is. And it truly is majestic and wonderful, oh yes.
Just don’t go into it expecting a walk in the park, and you’ll be fine. Wrap your head around a slightly problematic camera and a higher than usual difficulty and you’re more than likely going to love it as much as I do – which is a hell of a lot.
This is the game Tarantino would make if he turned his hand to videogames - it's like the climatic House of Blue Leaves showdown in Kill Bill Volume One stretched to last an entire game. It's violent, hectic and brilliant all at the same time, and you're ultimately in control of how it all pans out.
Relax, people. Despite the hype and raised expectations, Team Ninja came through with flying colours. It's not only part of their name, it looks like it's also their speciality.