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 Ninja Gaiden II (X360)

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Teh Green Llama
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PostSubject: Ninja Gaiden II (X360)   Wed Jun 04, 2008 2:59 pm

Surrounded by enemies, facing off against insurmountable forces around every corner, but knowing that they will meet a bloody end at your hands... this is Ninja Gaiden II. You'll engage endless swarms of enemies in an exercise in non-stop dismemberment and evisceration. There's no time to breathe, no time to collect your thoughts. Try not to hit the pause button, unless you desperately need to gather your wits or wipe the sweat from your brow.

As super ninja Ryu Hayabusa, you'll become an unrivalled killing machine, the bringer of death to all who would dare to challenge your skills. Ryu has forgotten more deadly techniques than most other videogame characters have even dreamed of. Whether he's on his feet on solid ground, running along a wall, tip-toeing on a watery surface, or flying through the air, his weapons spell certain doom for anything in his path. His fighting style is a joy to watch, an ultra-violent ballet that emphasizes fluid movement across the battlefield, dictating the flow of carnage on his own terms.

Survive to Kill Another Day

The challenge lies not just in meting out punishment, but in blocking incoming attacks between your combo flurries and in sidestepping away from the telegraphed, unblockable attacks that you'll learn to anticipate through experience. Defense is key, and mastering Ninja Gaiden II is as much about staying alive as it is about setting up your foes for obliteration.

You'll initially rely on a handful of potent techniques, falling back on what you know works when the action gets hot and heavy. Muscle memory will begin to kick in soon enough, and extended strings of button commands will become second nature such that you'll be able to pull off the impressive Izuna Drop at will. This is one of the defining Ninja Gaiden techniques, a move where you launch the enemy high in the air, slap the taste out of his mouth a few times with your weapon, and then send him spinning down into a punishing suplex. You'll find pleasure in experimenting with new moves when you've whittled down the opposing forces into something manageable.

Even one opponent can be a challenge, and underestimating the damage potential of a wounded foe can be detrimental to a ninja's health. See, in Ninja Gaiden II, the most dangerous enemies are those that you have brought to the brink of death. Slice off an enemy's arm and he has nothing left to live for, so he'll have no qualms with leaping onto your back and attempting to disembowel you both. Or pulling the pin on a live grenade. Finishing off wounded enemies quickly is part of the strategy, but dismembering opponents instead of killing them can slow them down, allowing you to pull off large combos. The way in which the enemy artificial intelligence regroups and capably modifies its strategies based on your offense is quite remarkable, and makes the game challenging from start to finish.

Ninja Gaiden II is a beautiful game, a violent canvas awash in streaming gouts of bloody red and slimy greens. The environments range from rainy cityscapes and dank underground tunnels to verdant jungles and opulent interiors. You'll rarely have a chance to really let the scenery sink in, however, as you'll be racing from battle to battle, fighting at a pace that never lets up. Ninja Gaiden II's combat is a showcase for the fluid attack animations, which are dizzying to try and keep track of.

The screen will constantly by dominated by action and it can be a challenge to keep track of it all, even when you've made a habit of auto-correcting the camera perspective with the right trigger. Shifting the camera perspective to keep Ryu front and center is a vital part of gameplay, and it's up to you as the player to be the eyes in the back of Ryu's head, aware of incoming attacks even before they can be seen on-screen.

Not For the Weak of Heart

Ninja Gaiden's considerable level of challenge is often discussed as both a positive and a negative. Since the AI is so unforgiving it's an immensely rewarding feeling to defeat a challenging boss or to clear a room filled with tough enemies. The game's varying difficulty levels should perhaps be renamed to "hard" through "seemingly impossible." The challenge level is satisfying for the most part, though, and you'll be pleased when you finally get to upload a Master Ninja score to the leaderboards to compare against friends.

Boss fights often throw everything out of whack, like one particular boss that can't feasibly be approached with conventional attacks, instead devolving into a war of attrition based around the awkwardly implemented archery system. You're supposed to be able to fire auto-aimed ranged attacks with a single button press, but your arrows will nearly always go off their mark, and the dramatic camera angles provided during this scene only serve to exacerbate an already frustrating situation.

The generally smooth frame-rate also takes a dip in certain areas and against certain enemies, slowing down when you least expect it. Worst of all, you'll sometimes encounter mid-combat loading, with the game pausing for a second to read from the disc at inopportune times. This is the exception rather than the rule, but it's off-putting when it happens.

Ninja Gaiden II makes a few key changes to the formula that was established in the previous Ninja Gaiden games. Your health will quickly regenerate when out of combat, but you'll still rely on healing items during difficult encounters. You can access these, as well as your different weapons, ranged attacks, and ninpo (ninja magic) by just tapping the directional pad. The most exciting new features may be the new weapons and combat styles that Ryu brings to the fray, including the kusari-gama (the chain and sickle), scythe, claws, and bladed tonfas. You really can play through the game from start to finish with any one of these weapons, or the staple Dragon Sword, and have a significantly different experience. You'll develop personal favorites, and if Tecmo ever wanted to branch out into working on comic-book licenses, Ryu's claw techniques would make a perfect fit for a Wolverine game.

If you're a fan of action games, then Ninja Gaiden II is an absolute must-have. The gameplay mechanics are phenomenally satisfying, and mastering Ryu's diverse weapon sets can easily entertain you through multiple play-throughs, giving this strictly single-player experience an extended life. You'll see yourself getting better over time, and the results are both gory and fulfilling. This is videogaming in the strictly old-school sense, an interactive experience that's light on storytelling and all about mastering all that's involved until you are skillful enough to defeat one of gaming's few truly capable challenges. Ninja Gaiden II is unrelenting and even unforgiving at times, but mastering the deadly art of Ninjitsu will leave you feeling very satisfied.t

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PostSubject: Re: Ninja Gaiden II (X360)   Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:14 am

I used to have the first one. I hated it so much... I ended up trading it in for Kingdom Hearts II (a deal which I am very happy with).

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