Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2
November 13, 2009

Follow the Bouncing Boobs or Purple Haze

If you haven’t played this game the way it was meant to be played (read: as Ninja Gaiden 2 on the Xbox 360), then the underwhelming nature of this PS3 port will be easier to stomach.

But wait! you balk, incredulous. Doesn’t this version feature not only superninja Ryu Hayabusa, but busty and leatherclad Rachel, and busty newcomer ninjas Ayane and Momji – as playable characters in their own unique missions? Yes, it does. And indeed, you can induce eerie boob undulations even when the girls’ chests should be at rest.

And I’ll do you one better: Sigma 2 looks better than the Xbox 360 original. Indeed, the intro is truly something you can show your Xbox 360-owning friends while smiling triumphantly, because it will bring out that insecurity. Just like you’d hoped it would.

But once you start playing… well, that’s another story altogether. See, the differences between the two games speak to the wildly varying visions of the respective directors at the helms: surprisingly, I’ll take buckets of blood and hardcore action over purple gas and bouncing boobs, no matter how sharply realized they might be.

I can’t believe I said that.

No, not the blood part, the boobs part. Much has already been made of swapping out the original game’s over-the-top bloodletting in exchange for inexplicable plumes of lavender fumes, so much that I initially thought people were overreacting.

But they’re not. The new generation Ninja Gaiden has always been about permitting progress in the most begrudging of ways. But through the beatings would emerge an indomitable gamer pride: we’d dust Ryu off, assuring ourselves that by defending prudently and patiently, awaiting openings to counterattack, our resolve would see us through.

And I’ll admit that I’m surprised at how much the blood had to do with fueling that resolve.

Rending limbs produced spectacular arterial spray as a medium for Ryu to paint a personal and satisfying canvas. That feeling is borne of a base savagery (a sort of badassery, like doing push-ups on rocks), and Sigma 2’s oddly pristine re-imagining has tidied badassery right out of the equation.

The game’s infamous obstinacy has mellowed too, hammering home this version’s thesis: Tough guy fulfillment has all but gone up in purple smoke. Areas crawling with menace that had you sweating your way through, barely able to come up for air, now smack of bland formula and the perfunctory: run, slice a few ninjas, run, dice a few more, learn a new skill at an inexplicably long loading screen, start running again…

Sure, Sigma 2 looks extremely crisp, boasting set pieces to marvel at, from Sky City Tokyo to The Aqua Capital; and characters whose enviably rendered physiques impress, from Ryu’s musculature to the girls’ aforementioned heaving chests.

But there is no mistaking that something is amiss here; Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 feels sterile and vapid where it once felt more raw and engaging. It’s still a decent romp, but certainly not the ideal Ninja Gaiden adventure that was advertised.


7/10

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