Get ready boys and girls… Unlike my usual reviews, this is one from the full game! That’s right kids – NOT THE DEMO!
Now even though in typical Bush Mackel form this game came out eons ago, I’m just getting around to it now because I was clued into a sweet deal on Circuit City where you could get the game and a 1600 Microsoft Points card all for $40.
And if there’s a deal on a game – You know I’m there.
The Modern Ninja Gaiden Franchise
So if you don’t know anything about the modern day Ninja Gaiden here’s the story in a nutshell – You are Ryu Hayabusa, the quintessential ninja bada$$. You come from a long line of bada$$ ninjas and you basically rid the world of demonic creatures called fiends. In the old Nintendo games, I guess Ninja Gaiden was as “graphic” as you could get with 8 bits to work with. These days, the modern consoles afford Ryu with everything he needs to get his Ninja on including very VERY violent combat gameplay. The first Ninja Gaiden was violent, but things have been pushed even further in II with TONS of dismemberments. Now you can chop of arms and legs and the enemy will live on to do battle until he is finally put in the ground by a beating, beheading or the olllllllllll slice in half.
So How’s the Game?
Much like Gears of War, the gameplay and graphics in this game completely make up for the terrible story (if you want to even call it that). And what’s so interesting about NG II is that before you play the game, you’re just not excited about it… Because you think of it just as a button masher with all the gore as kind of a gimmick to get the impressionable kids to play it (or at least so I thought) and basically NG II the same game as the original. But seriously, the combat and difficulty of the game are so phenomenal – You can’t help but love it.
I Learned I Like Chopping People Up
In my opinion, there are three things that make the combat in Ninja Gaiden really stand out :
1. Awesome Weapons
2. Awesome Combos
3. Leveling of Weapons
4. Level of Gore
The weapons you find in the game are very different from one another and thankfully they play that way too. For instance, your main weapon is called the Dragon Sword and while it handles very smoothly – It may not be the most useful when fighting off 8 enemies at a time since it seems to focus on one thing at a time. In situations like that, you’d probably want to whip out the Kusagirama which doesn’t seem to deal out as much damage, but basically hits everything around you.
And thankfully, the move list you have for every weapon is deep enough that you’re not always pressing XXX or YYY or XYX either. These two things by themselves keep the game feeling very fresh almost every minute. Finally, I always like a game where you feel like your character is growing stronger throughout it and that’s what you get here when you upgrade your weapons making them more damaging and unlocking even more combos and attacks with them as you go on.
This Game is Hard as Hell
Much like the first, the Ninja Gaiden II difficulty is certainly the hallmark of the game. When you start a new game of Ninja Gaiden II, you can select between two difficulties – Acolyte and Warrior. Now I just recently started playing through on Acolyte (after beating Warrior) and I can tell you the difference is night and day. In Acolyte, the game is really a button masher where you really never have to block and you really never have to use health items (or at least I didn’t). In Warrior – I can tell you that I had to continue more than 100 times to beat the game. The regular enemies are hard, (some would say cheap at times), the bosses are hard (often w/o revealing weaknesses in intros) and the end bosses and levels are very very VERY difficult. But that’s fine because this difficulty is just perfect in delivering the ideal Ninja Gaiden II experience forcing you to constantly think about how you purchase your upgrades, what weapons to use, and what attacks to employ. But WAIT – There’s more!
Much like the original Ninja Gaiden, this game REALLY prides itself on being difficult so once you beat the game on Warrior, you can play the much (and I mean MUCH) harder difficulty of Mentor. I started that difficulty about a week ago, and I JUST finished Chapter 1 after continuing probably (no lie) 75 times. I just kept dying and dying… The AI is BRUTAL, upgrades cost more, and there are NO easy enemy encounters as they throw in the worst (and again some may say cheapest) enemies every chance they get. Now if I ever finish THIS level of difficulty I get the choice to play through the final one – Master Ninja which I have to imagine is IMPOSSIBLE. My friend played through the first one on this difficulty and there were times where things got ugly. And by ugly I mean I thought he was just going to destroy the Xbox and then throw himself in front of a moving vehicle.
Ninja Gaiden 2 Achievements
If I have ANY gripe about this game, it probably comes on the achievement side of the ball. If you play through the game on Warrior you’ll basically get 720 points. (200 combined come from the difficulty of the game). So if I eventually beat the game on Master Ninja (yeah right) I’ll get 200 more for the Master Ninja level and Mentor. Are you with me? So where are those other achievements coming from? How about from beating the game only using ONE item!!! There’s like 6 or 7 weapons in the game and the achievements are only 5 pts each!!! I love working for challenging achievements as much as the next guy but playing through 15 chapters using only one weapon for 5 achievement points!? To me, it really seems like these last achievements were just shoe horned in ’cause they couldn’t think of anything better. BUT, they’re not online achievements (which I hate) so I guess I shouldn’t be grumbling too much.
Ninja Gaiden II is a REALLY fun and challenging game that will certainly take up a good bit of your time. And while the story isn’t anything memorable, the gameplay is fantastic and the cut scenes and graphics will leave you doing backflips at how good they look. So if you’re like me and love to pick up games after they’ve come down in price a bit – Check out Ninja Gaiden II, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.