Maybe I'm not an expert, maybe I took the simple approach, but Ninja Gaiden really is all about mashing buttons and hoping you take down your enemies before they take out you. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means by the end of the game your square and triangle buttons will be a little worse for wear.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is the reworked version of the previously 360 exclusive title, Ninja Gaiden 2. This version follows the same story, and will seem very similar but some sections are in, other are out, and some bosses have been replaced with different foes. The majority of the game will see you playing as Ryu Hayabusa, descendent of the Dragon lineage, on a mission to retrieve the Demon Statue that has been stolen, and defeat the Black Spider Ninja Clan from completing their evil conquest. Along the way you will defeat countless horrid fiends and battle some pretty outlandish bosses. Through out the game you will also have the opportunity to play as three different characters for brief periods. Ayane, Momiji and Rachel are all playable female characters who control somewhat differently than Ryu and will give you slightly different feel as you dismember your opponents.
The action in this game is anything but tame. Although human enemies do not spurt blood, you can dismember them and have them come hoping at you on one leg or crawling on the ground with out an arm. For fiends, the outrageous monster like enemies, arms, legs and heads can all be cut off with amounts of gore flying out in the process. For the most part dismembering your enemies give you some visual feedback that you are indeed damaging the enemy, but too often you repeatedly hit foes without an visible signs of damage being done. This isn't a huge issue, but it seems as though if you are slashing an enemy with a sword upwards of ten times, he should at least show some faint signs of being hurt.
In order to destroy your enemies Ninja Gaiden provides you with a variety of weapons that range from giant swords to sharpened claws. You also have a limited selection of projectile weapons such as a bow or cannon. Each weapon has its own style and depending on which you equip it will alter your style of attack. Each weapon can be upgraded three times but you will need to find a blacksmith within a Muramasa's Shop, and depending on where you are in the game, your ability to upgrade a weapon past a certain point may be limited. Muramasa's Shop are little statutes that when the area is clear of enemies, you can access and buy items that will refill your health or Ki (basically mana). With your Ki you can use Ninpo, which are essential spells that can be either offensive or defensive and can be used if you're in a tight spot. They are a neat mechanic but using them isn't really essential to success.
Ninja Gaiden is neither original or innovative. It's unlikely that when you sit down to play this game you'll be tempted to power through and play for hours. That in itself doesn't equate to Ninja Gaiden being a bad game, rather it is more indicative of its gameplay. For the majority of gamers level after level, encounter after encounter of the same repetitive button mashing will become tiresome and will likely only be fun in short bursts. That's exactly how it was played for this review, and in moderation the hack and slash, button mashing can be quite enjoyable. You can pull of some pretty impressive looking moves and if you actually put some effort in, there are some button mashing sequences that make your character pull off special moves. You do have the ability to block and dash away but for the most part, as long as you're able to kill all the enemies before they kill you, your health is replenished at the end of each fight and blocking becomes a novelty more than a necessary gameplay element. This brings up the point that although at points when you're being attacked by multiple enemies, the game can be a challenge, overall, depending on the difficult level you're playing under, simply going full out and attacking everything insight with little regard to strategy or blocking is quite sufficient to beat the game. It is unlikely you will die that frequently during the normal course of the game, and while fighting the bosses of the game, unless you aren't able to figure out the key to their defeat, they as well will not present too much of a challenge.
Along the lines of repetitive, there are the boss fights in Ninja Gaiden. Although Ninja Gaiden has some of the strangest and unique looking bosses you will encounter (such as a chrome coloured snake with a human face with bull horns who floats around) they are neither challenging or fun. Four of the main bosses (greater fiends) you face you will encounter more than once through the game, and Genshin, a member of the Black Spider Clan you will encounter no less than 4 times. You would think that each encounter would be an ever growing test of your skill and competence in battle. In reality though every single boss fight is simply a matter of button mashing and avoiding their attacks. This holds true from your first encounter with a giant possessed statue all the way until the final encounter of the game. Ninja Gaiden also does a good job of making you think the game is almost over when in fact you have more of your adventure to complete. This does mean that you get more bang for your buck, but some of the levels feel tacked on, and it does get annoying to fight the same boss over and over again.
That brings us to the story of Ninja Gaiden, which is suffice to say, pretty unimportant. The events of the game are told through cut scene but they fail to create any attachment to the characters you play as or fight to save and the story itself is pretty uncompelling. Overall the story is pretty cut and paste, bad guys attack, good guys fight to save the world. The cut scenes are done well but when you are playing, after you flash to a cut scene you won't be using the same weapon as in the game. This really has no baring on anything other then to say that attention to detail isn't as refined as some triple 'A' games. As a personal preference you may want to leave the voice acting on in Japanese and just read along with subtitles.
Once you've completely the single player campaign you can hop online or play locally with a cpu in one of the several team mission levels. These are simple levels where you and a friend or computer can battle through waves of enemy and attempt to survive until the end. It is enjoyable to play with someone else while you battle the hordes of enemies and the team missions serve as a quick way to slaughter some monsters without having to load up and replay some of the single player levels.
Technically Ninja Gaiden works just fine, but the occasional camera issues does become a bit of a nuisance. Your view can and will get stuck behind walls or corners and this all can happen while you're being attacked. Also, at some points you will be swarmed by enemies and they will be able to get in shot after shot no matter if you're block or trying to counter. As a whole though the package does work pretty well aside from a few hiccups that can present the occasional annoyance.
Ninja Gaiden presents a decent package that will entertain you for brief periods of time if hack and slash button mashers are your type of game. People looking for a solid story and a variety of gameplay elements will likely be disappointed if they pick up this title. If you head into Ninja Gaiden with the knowledge that it's not incredibly deep and likely won't blow you away, it will provide you with decent entertainment and value. Ninja Gaiden is a pretty straight forward, simplistic game that won't move you but does what its sets out to do well. Waves of enemies, solid mechanics and a decent pace make Ninja Gaiden an entertaining game albeit with some flaws. If you're looking for a game that can fill some free time every once and a while, Ninja Gaiden is likely a good candidate for you. If you're after a deep game that delivers diverse gameplay and a solid story you may want to save your money and look elsewhere.