Developer: Tecmo, Team Ninja
Release Date: 6/3/2008
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I never beat the first Ninja Gaiden due to its insane difficulty. I wanted to very badly, but no matter how much I tried I failed in the end. Thankfully NG2 is a bit more forgiving on the easy setting, but newcomers will never make it past the first level. The game’s story is nothing special and feels like a rehash at best. You have to save the world from the Arch Fiends taking over the world and destroying so you have to hunt them down one by one. The gameplay is essentially the same as NG1. You have light and heavy attacks along with projectile weapons that you can charge. The game has many more weapons and Ninpo scrolls to use. Weapons range from scythes, tonfas, flails, and even staffs. All the weapons are great and you can upgrade them for up to three levels and after the enemies get too strong for that weapon you’ll never use it again.
The Ninpo magic is useful for enemies, but useless on bosses since it doesn’t do any damage. They can be used to cripple enemies and finish them off with a finishing move. There are a lot of new moves in the game yet they are repeated far too often. You can hack enemies apart into a bunch of pieces and continue to hack them up for overkill bonuses. While you rack up your Karma score you can also buy items from the Masamusa shops which are generously spread throughout the levels and the same goes for save points. I never found the game unfair with checkpoints or saves. Once you die at a boss you start right there in front of the boss again so this makes things less frustrating. Another cool element is being able to run on top of the water. You can fight enemies this way as well and just adds to the awesome ninja feel to the game. I also found the controls less responsive than the first game and also a bit sluggish. You’ll try to hit an enemy, but they’ll back away and hit you but you’re stuck in an animation that you can’t back out of. This isn’t a huge issue but it’s still there. Another problem is the camera which is terrible. Instead of following Ryu it’ll always stay in one spot so enemies are coming at you blindly. While this also isn’t a huge issue it doesn’t make things better.
Throughout each level is a Test of Valor portal which has you killing as many enemies in the room as you can and rewarding you. These get extremely hard then super easy. The game also looks amazing. While it’s not Assassin’s Creed or Gears of War amazing it looks astounding with awesome lighting, high res textures, realistic physics and what have you. Another problem is that the game is insanely linear with literally only one straight path to go on. this makes fighting a bit cramped sometimes but overall isn’t a huge issue. A lot of people will have the biggest problem with the difficulty. While it’s tolerable on easy you’ll never beat normal or, god forbid, hard.
What makes the game so hard are the limited healing items, some cheap enemies, and the sluggish controls. You never really feel powerful enough no matter what weapons you get. I really hated this and is the most disappointing part of the game. There are also times where the frame rate will chug when there are tons of enemies on-screen. This makes those sections even more annoying.
The game has lots of gore, sexy women, cool weapons, and magic, a long campaign, leaderboards, amazing visuals, but it falls down some with sluggish controls, a bad camera, and insane difficulty. If you loved NG1 you’re going to have a blast here, but if the first game made you feel standoffish then pick NG2 up because you’ll be able to at least beat the game.