First Exams
Ninja Gaiden 2 – Demo Impressions

With only one day remaining in the month of May, Microsoft finally made good on their announcement to bring out a demo to the marketplace. Unfortunately for many, the demo is only available in Japan! What a cruel turn of a events. However, that did not deter the skilled warriors who are Gaiden fans.

Myself coming off of playing Sigma (last I saw of it I got pissed from being stuck on a Rachel mission and quit) I had some reservations with NG2. First of all, I was pissed of having my ass kicked by the camera in Sigma, and was hoping that this wouldn’t transfer over into the sequel. Another complaint I had was the back tracking and the enemies respawning the moment you turned a corner and walked back. That’s a great way to make some fast cash, but annoying when you’re trying to survive. Lastly I prayed that no one accidentally included Rachel mission into the sequel. I’m assuming that it was an accident, I can imagine anyone purposefully doing something like that. Right? Luckily, most of my complaints were addressed, but there are a few things I felt were off putting.

Tired of walking, Ryu decided to test out his handheld helicopter…on a crowed walk way.

The demo takes place at the first chapter of the game, and ends about 2/3 of the way through. The only available difficulty is yes, Easy mode. If you think its hard now…get moar better? The demo starts you off in an awkward spot, something I find difficulty believing a newbie could handle. Luckily you can’t die…well I couldn’t at least. But I’ve had some experience playing the game before, and judging by the fact that the demo is set to Easy, I’m assuming Itagaki tailored this for a new audience.

You’re given 3 weapons at the start: Dragon Sword, Scythe, and Claws, and as always you have access to your trusty shurikens and the bow & arrows. Each one seems more capable given you situation, and unlike the first game, I’m happy to switch between them (especially now that they can be accessed via the d-pad). The Scythe is easily the best weapon for making quick work of a number of enemies. The ultimate technique for it is truly devastating, unleashing a wave of destruction in your path. The Claws are not only attached to Ryu’s hands, but to his feet as well, giving him versitile combos for launching an enemy into the air and then shaping up the surrounding shrubbery. Finally, you will find the Lunar staff which looks more like a mace on pool cleaner now. Its mercilessly swift advances seems to be specifically designed to stamp out enemies who you just don’t like.

The more appendages they have, the more Ryu has to cut off.

The AI doesn’t seem to have changed much, but they were by no means idiotic before. That is of course only if you believe that they attack Ryu because they are brave and not because they are stupid. Luckily they have some new moves to add to their repertoire. If you fail to kill them, they will get back up, maimed or crippled. They’re still somewhat capable with only one arm, but when they can no longer get up, they will lunge at you, hop on your back and suicide bomb you. Like always, if you let them get the better of you, they will knock you down and proceed to deliver deadly blows to you while you struggle to free yourself from their grasp. Each individual enemy has the potential to kill you. The weakest enemy you face in this is undeniably the bats.

Tired of his life of murder, Ryu sought to break into show business.

The level design seems far more improved. The level featured in the demo is both easy to navigate and pleasing to look at. Not to mention, to my pleasing, the enemies don’t just magically reappear if you decide to go back. You still have the occasional instant where an enemy will lunge at your as you’re turning a corner, or you will walk out into a court yard and be attacked before the camera can catch up. It adds the element of surprise in a sense, but the regenerating health keeps controller throwing tantrums out of the equation.

Graphically, it might be hard to spot the improvements when you’re playing the game as it’s intended. This is a game that requires rapid eye movement and quick thinking after all. The game does look great. Buildings in the distance look as detailed as the ones right next to you. It features a rich contrast in lighting which is practical and also helpful in distinguishing dark enemies from a dark background, something a lot of games still haven’t gotten right.

Only a true warrior can decapitate a foe and then stare at their crotch…

Many early reviews stated some issues in the frame rate and also in loading. Those who play the demo may be quick to shirk them off as simply being mistaken, but there are some things to consider when looking at the differences between review builds and demos. First of all, for whatever reason the review build and retail copies seem to differ. Not to mention that anyone will find a difference in performance when running an optical disc versus running data off a hard drive. Granted, I’m confident that any issues still present on the retail discs won’t be game ruining. Sigma had a number of instances where loading occurred mid battle, and I still enjoyed it.

I’m not even sure what the hell that used to be!

Overall, from what I’ve played, Itagaki has done an incredible job at building a sequel to arguably the best action game on the Xbox. Although he has stated before that this would be the last Ninja Gaiden, given the franchise’s history, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some re-releases. If it keeps studying, Ninja Gaiden 2 is looking to maintain its GPA ahead of the class.


3 comments
Phaethon
Phaethon

So far, from me playing it, this game is the piss and you are the bucket.

Roxwell
Roxwell

I liked the demo but no way will this game create the waves the first did. This is like spitting in the pool where the first was pissing in a bucket.

ho11owman
ho11owman

I am sure I will never get NG2, considering I sucked so bad at the first. Although the game looks awesome. I love the one shot where he has the claws like Wolverine...im going to start calling him Logan Hayabusa.