Ryu Hayabusa is a highly trained ninja who seeks revenge for the attack on his clan. His village was decimated by an organization called the Vigoor Empire, and an evil sword which was being guarded by his clan called the Dark Dragon Blade was stolen. Ryu soon journeys to their city with his mission being to reclaim the blade, and kill the samurai named Doku who was responsible for the attack. -summary
When I began playing games again after a rather long hiatus, the game that drew me back was Ninja Gaiden: Black for the original X-Box, which was actually a remake or revamping of Ninja Gaiden for the same system, and despite my enjoyment of that game I wasn't quite back in the saddle. Later, I learned that the classic game was remade, or revamped once again for the PS3. This alone was reason enough to draw me back in and return to my goal, which was to murder every game that came in my path.
Ninja Gaiden: Sigma remains true to its roots, which dates all the way back to the original Ninja Gaiden series of the late 80's on the NES, which also carried over to its two predecessors on the X-Box. It's a monster of a game that can be incredibly difficult at times.
Ninja Gaiden: Sigma is a one player action adventure game, which takes place from a third person perspective in the city of Tairon. The game follows Ryu Hayabusa as he battles enemies with an assortment of weapons. In the beginning, Ryu's attacks start off at level one. His attacks can be upgraded by either purchasing or finding weapons and magic attacks. When a weapon has been upgraded, not only does it become more powerful, but Ryu's combo list also increases. The many weapons to obtain highly enhances the fun factor, because each of them have different strategies for usage as well as abilities.
In order to purchase items, the player earns "Essence", which is obtained by defeating opponents. Essence can also be absorbed in the heat of battle by powering up Ryu's ultimate attack. After the essence has been absorbed, Ryu lunges for the nearest enemy and is completely invincible while delivering his attack. The attack results in instant death for all lesser characters, and it deals out major damage to stronger characters including bosses. The game is also filled with health and magic recovering items, that can either be found or purchased, and there's also a limit on how many can be carried. I highly recommend not being stingy to yourself with the items. If you feel it has to be used, then use it.
Ryu is given many moves that will help keep the player alive. He can interact with the environment by performing wall leaps, and even running along the walls for a brief moment. He can block most attacks and can also dodge by using a rolling move, that will get you out of many tight spots. These tactics must be mastered to make it from one point to another at times, and they help greatly during intense battles when the enemy tries to overcome the player using the numbers game.
The AI is something else. The enemies are formidable to the point where it can be insane. The game forces you to learn your moves, and you will need every bit of them to survive. The regular cannon fodder will do you in very quickly if button mashing is your best offense. The enemies will utilize tactics on you such as ganging up, with others firing everything from small arms pistols, to rocket launchers from a distance. They can also perform grab moves should you "turtle" too often, but these situations are escapable with patience and simply mastering your moves.
The game is also filled with intense boss battles. Seriously, diving in with no strategy and button mashing will see you to an early grave. I can't think of many games with such difficult boss encounters. Most of the bosses don't really follow a set pattern, and sometimes you have to create your own opening for attack. Patience and skill is the key to victory.
The stages have an RPG feel, and there are areas that must be revisited, and there will be certain changes that have taken place; such as new and more dangerous characters, or areas that have become accessible when previously they weren't. I also enjoy that there aren't many instant death stages, that can result from mis-timed jumps or traps. If something like that occurs, you will just fall to the lower area or something or the segment will restart again. Save points are many and it's recommended to do so. I also like the stage set ups, some of the battles are fought in wide open areas, and at times in very cramped quarters, but still, you have the moves and arsenal to deal with any situation.
The story is also pretty interesting, and the plot is straight forward. Although some moments can be predictable. I don't think it hurts the narrative much.
Personally, I don't have a problem in this area. The control is set-up in a way that the moves can be easily performed. The combos can be performed through certain button combinations that doesn't require much practice at all. The moves are fairly easy to pull off, and magic attacks are performed by pressing two buttons simultaneous, this is excellent because it prevents unwanted magic use. Movement is performed by using the analog stick, while the d-pad navigates through your health and magic items, so you can use them in the heat of battle at any time. You can also press the start button to access your items if that's what you prefer.
I love the character designs, especially for the scantily clad, and overly busty side character Rachel. There was a great amount of effort put into her "bounce", I mean good grief. The monsters also have some cool and creative designs as well. The backgrounds are also awesome too, with some nice landscapes and beautiful scenery during the wooden areas in the beginning of the stages. Every area which is examined gave off an epic feel to me. The combat moves at a very fluid pace, and the moves are performed very well. No matter how fast a combo may be, you can see every bit of the animation. Most of the cut scenes are very cool to watch, and I think the visuals are used best here.
Although you can control your camera with the push of a button that places the focus on your character. The game still suffers from slight camera problems that plagued the first two. At times, it can be a problem when you're under heavy pressure due to enemies ganging up on you. Sometimes you will have to rely on quick wit and skill to get out of a sticky situation.
If this was a ninja game based only on stealth and silent kills. Then the soundtrack would probably fail for the most part. Since it's not, I think it creates the right mood when getting the blood pumping. On certain occasions, it will be a low key synthesize score that will sometimes switch to a more upbeat sound. The sound effects are very good from the sword clashes to gunfire. You can hear the difference between pistols and rifles. The voice acting is also pretty good, but I found some of the dialogue to be pretty cheesy.
What's the difference between this one from the others?
After playing both of the earlier games, there actually is a difference here. The AI is a bit more competitive, and this is mainly noticeable on the higher difficulty settings. But there are very tough enemies that appear in the normal setting, which appeared in the very hard setting of Ninja Gaiden: Black. There is also the addition of a new weapon that is made up of twin swords with some very cool combos.
The game also features Rachel as a playable character, with her own missions, boss battles, plus she's equipped with magic attacks as well. Even though I didn't find her as fun as Ryu. I liked the change of pace and challenge.
For the die hard completist, there's quite a bit of replay here. More difficulty options are opened each time the game is completed. The game doesn't only become harder due to different and more fierce enemies, but weapons and power ups appear at later times, plus items are switched around. You have to heavily rely on your skills to make it through those harder settings. The game also features a mission mode, where your purpose will be to kill hordes of enemies, and higher difficulty settings will open after the mission has been completed. There's 46 missions total.
Now as a die hard fan of the series, I don't feel as if my time and money was wasted. There were enough things that took place to give me a somewhat different experience. It doesn't do for the series what Resident Evil on the Gamecube did for its series, but the game is still enjoyable. To new fans, I recommend forgetting about the two X-Box versions and just go for this. I mainly recommend this to those who prefer very violent and challenging games. Believe me, if it's competition you want, then you found it here.
Pros: -Gameplay -Challenging -Replay value and visuals
Cons: -Slight camera issues -Can be too difficult for some
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Serious gamer and hardcore comic reader.
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