Developer: Team Ninja
N Amer - 07/03/2007
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Review
Ask any Xbox gamer and they’ll tell you that the aside from the gaming masterpiece that is Halo, it is Ninja Gaiden that lit up their big black box a long while back. Sure, Team Ninja and Tecmo made their mark on Microsoft’s console with the likes of the Dead or Alive games, but Ninja Gaiden was such a rare gem that, not long after its release, an update called Ninja Gaiden Black hit store shelves as well. Now, with the next-generation transitioning to current generation, Ninja Gaiden Sigma finds itself on the PlayStation 3 to make this the best version of this action-packed classic.
Sigma, I must add, isn’t a sequel to the original Ninja Gaiden or its update Black, but rather another it’s another version with new bells and whistles designed specifically for the PS3. Taking all the elements from both versions of the game, Sigma’s story still centers on a ninja named Ryu Hayabusa - a ninja who happens to be the descendent of the Dragon Lineage protected by his family’s clan. It is on a fateful day that he comes home to his village being burned to the ground and an evil presence that has come to take the Dark Dragon Blade. Ryu confronts the evil dark master that controls monsters and is cut down easily. Surviving the attack, Ryu swears revenge and sets out to recover the blade. It’s en epic setup but the story never really gets any deeper … then again it’s not the story that will hook you but rather Ryu’s journey.
As a master ninja, Ryu has a number of cool acrobatic moves and his mastery of his Dragon Sword will allow him to rip through a number of enemies that range from other evil ninja clan members to otherworldly fiends and even modern technology. He still performs all the neat little tricks from the original Xbox version such as flying bird flips to wall running while performing interesting tasks like running on water (much like in movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or House of Flying Daggers). The new stuff, though, is what steals the show. Aside from his own armaments, the biggest addition to the weapon list has to be the twin Dragon’s Claw and Tiger’s Fang swords he can dual-wield for faster slicing-and-dicing.
The good news is that the controls feel better than the Xbox version, so pulling off the cool acrobatic moves is easy and ultra smooth. Using the bow and arrow in first-person view works beautifully here somehow. Really, my only complaint is the camera that sometimes can obscure your view but not to the point that you’ll get killed over it. My other complaint is another new addition to the game, this one made to take advantage of the SIXAXIS controller. You see, the Ninpo attack has always been used to dish out some major damage to enemies at the cost of some Ki (you gain Ki by defeating enemies) but in the original it’s usually activated with a push of the button. Here you’re asked to shake the SIXAXIS controller to increase Ninpo and it just ends up feeling unnecessary.
Still, the two weak spots are hardly anything to complain about seeing as another major addition happens to be controlling another character. Remember Rachel, the busty Vigoorian Fiend Hunter whose role in the original was as an interesting character that would pop up now and then? She is now a playable character with her own diverse levels. Her chapters really add to the story rather than distract from the plot and the good news is that she plays just as good as Ryu. Her skills aren’t dependant on swords or ninja tricks but rather brute force (Rachel wields a cool hammer) as well as a magical attack spell. Sure, her chapters start simple enough but the challenges start getting harder and she gets to face off against enemy bosses. In the end, you’ll feel that Rachel’s levels add a nice feminine touch that sets itself apart from Ryu’s tough campaign.
Speaking of tough, the game is still hard but not as much as the original or even Black (a game that very lightly adjusted the difficulty setting). This is not to say that the game is a breeze or that you’ll zip right through it but it doesn’t feel as monstrously grueling as the original. You’ll still find plenty of challenges and, for those not use to the hardcore challenge, you’ll find moments in the game where you will want to start tearing your hair out of their roots or fling the controller. I’m not the type of girl that likes to brag but I finished the game on the normal setting, a feat I wasn’t able to do so easily with the original.
Visually, the game is just utterly gorgeous on the PlayStation 3. The original was nothing to sneeze at and it still remains to be one of the most visually impressive Xbox games you can find on the old console. In this version, though, everything from the characters to the backgrounds is just filled with detail. Ryu and Rachel just look more realistic and the self-shadowing just looks natural. It’s also great to see the game move at a steady 60 frames-per-second, making the animation so fluid that anyone who happens to be passing by won’t help but stop and stare. Really, this is one of the PS3’s best-looking games.
The game’s sound is also great since the PS3 is able to display some truly spectacular Dolby Digital sound. If you have a good sound system hooked up then I suggest you play this one with the volume up. If you don’t have the whole HD deal set up, no worries, the game’s sound is detailed enough. The score is pure hardcore action and feel like a big-budget action movie. There’s also a good voice acting cast here that does justice to the characters.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma delivers a PlayStation 3 game worthy of any action fan’s growing PS3 library and if you missed it the first time then welcome to one seriously hardcore action game. Sigma might feel the same as the original in certain aspects but the improvements just make this a deeper and far more enjoyable version of what was once an Xbox classic. Really, do yourself a favor and pick this one up right away.
Review Scoring Details for Ninja Gaiden Sigma
Much of the core gameplay mechanics and level design from the Xbox original and its Black edition are present but the PS3 version additions just add more ninja goodness to the mix. Toss in some cool moves, the ability to play as Rachel the Fiend Hunter as well as dual-wield swords and you have a recipe for an amazing action game. The controller-shaking Ninpo attack just doesn’t do it for me.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma is, by far, one of the most gorgeous-looking PS3 games to hit the console so far. The slick visuals just don’t apply to the cutscenes but also the in-game action. The character models are wonderfully detailed and cast real-time shadows this time and the animation is fluid.
The game still contains the original’s soundtrack and it’s not bad since the score gives the game its Hollywood-styled action flick feel. There’s some solid voice acting in this game and the sound effects are detailed enough even without using a good sound system. I recommend playing this one with the volume up.
Somehow the game is not as aggravatingly hard as the original but, make no mistake, this is still one of the most challenging action games you will experience. You’ll still encounter boss fights that will make your thumbs bleed. There’s an easy setting but Ayane (who is one of the ladies of the DOA games) will constantly remind you how wimpy you are.
Not only does the game sport a new glossier visual presentation but the new features just complement the game in every way. Rachel’s levels are a great distraction and unlocking Mission Mode adds more bang for your buck. There are secrets aplenty (one of which is a great retro treat) and a great challenge for those who don’t mind it.
What was an instant classic on the original Xbox is now a brilliant retooled classic on the PlayStation 3 that should not be missed if you’re an owner of Sony’s new console. Ninja Gaiden Sigma isn’t an entirely new game but thanks to the new gameplay additions it becomes the best version ever. If you’re a PlayStation gamer who missed out on the Xbox version, boy, are you in for a pleasant surprise.
What was an instant classic on the original Xbox is now a brilliant retooled classic on the PlayStation 3 that should not be missed if you’re an owner of Sony’s new console
Reviewer: Angelina Sandoval
Review Date: 07/17/2007