arrival his real mission begins. Ryu must battle his way through the streets & buildings of Vigoor into the heart of the Empire conquering guards, ninjas, bosses & even zombies along his way.
Fighting is one core element of Ninja Gaiden and you will need to perfect your style early on. You can use both offensive and defensive moves and a practiced measure of the two will get you through most fights. Ryu is amazingly versatile and using his Ninja skills is an absolute pleasure. You are able to control Ryu with outstanding precision better than I think I have ever seen in any game. Team Ninja know what they're doing when it comes to fighting titles and in Ninja Gaiden it really shows. Flexibility and intuition are the order of the day and you will feel like bustin' baddies asses all day long. The scope of moves is endless, just about every cool maneuver you can imagine a ninja doing is there, plus lots more. When fighting with his sword the blows pack a punch as you see Ryu slashing through his adversaries and taking hits along the way. The combat is tough and Ninja Gaiden rewards skillful play, the enemies seem to come in small groups of 2-5 and you rarely find yourself tackling any larger numbers.
Seeking out the way through the levels by exploring & collecting items to help your cause is the other key element of Ninja Gaiden. Ryu can use his acrobatic Ninja skills to make like a cat and reach places unreachable to the average human. Ryu can run up walls and along them within reason, bounce from wall to wall to climb upwards, grab onto bars and swing from them to extend a jump, jump up and grab onto ledges then pull himself up (Laura Croft style) and even swim. This is great fun and also quickly became an essential part of my fighting style. There is also the odd puzzle to solve, these are all pretty standard tasks like finding the key for a door or finding a lever to open something – you know the type.
There is a little bit of shopping thrown in too, although, this is an extra element and doesn't feature too highly in the main flow of the game. When Ryu kills an enemy he can pick up a golden orb from his enemies dead body, these can be used in the shop to upgrade weapons and buy potions.
As with all adventure games you should expect the game to take you some time to complete & Ninja Gaiden is no disappointment. You will need to devote at least a good 20-30 hrs to this game to complete the mission. Plus once the straight forward run has been accomplished you can then go back for the stealthier attempt where you collect all the Golden Scarabs and so on. Completing the stealthier attempt has its own rewards in the shape of cool extras such as un-lockable outfits, downloads & even some retro versions of the game.
Graphically Ninja Gaiden is truly amazing and features a very high frame rate. All characters are animated perfectly; the backgrounds and environments have been cleverly constructed and look beautiful and the game also supports widescreen. As far as I am concerned graphically Ninja Gaiden easily rivals any other Xbox title.
Ninja Gaiden sounds wicked too. The voice over can be set to English or Japanese, the soundtrack is purely original and isn't packed with tired metal or dance music. Team Ninja have helped bring the environment to life with stunning ambience and great traditional Japanese music. Fighting sounds are also awesome; swords clunk & slice and Ryu's war cry strikes fear in all. If you are running the game on Dolby 5:1 then you will feel totally immersed in the world.
Playing the role of a Ninja is exhilarating stuff and Tecmo have conquered that feeling. Ninja Gaiden feels like it has been constructed with endless attention to detail and hasn't been rushed for release in any way. As far as action adventure titles go I believe Ninja Gaiden is setting a new standard. If this is your kind of game I suggest you go out and buy a copy because you will not find a more compelling or exciting adventure this side of Ancient Kyoto.
9.5 out of 10
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