Saturday, May 16, 2009

Xbox 360 - Ninja Gaiden 2

Ninja Gaiden 2 - by Team Ninja

Rated for Violence, Gore
Game Type: Fighting

Here's a game, like Dead Space, that seems to work well enough for a couple of levels and then completely fails. The graphics on this game are gorgeous, but beyond that, this game is one of the worst games I've played in quite some time. I usually don't get into fighting games, but I'd heard some reasonable things about this title and I picked it up on the cheap... and that's a good thing!


This is a 3D level based third person fighting game. This isn't a two player fighting game like Mortal Kombat. Instead, this is a level game where you run around on platforms or paths, pick up things, buy things and kind of quest. But, the sole purpose of this game is fighting. You fight enemy after enemy just to get to more enemies to fight. Like I said, it's a fighting game. Note, I started out on the Acolyte Level (Easy).

The controls are simple: X short attack (weaker), Y long attack (stronger, less likely to succeed). So, in the first two levels you are running around attacking every other attacker. Some have arrows and shoot you, some have Wolverine-like claws and some have swords. Whatever it is the attacker is using, you can't be complacent. They attack fairly ruthlessly, but they're reasonably easy to defeat once you get the upper hand. As you progress through the game, you learn more and better combos by examining corpses (?). Yeah, I couldn't figure that one out either.

Of course, as with most games of this sort (and since it's level based), you will have to fight a boss at the end of each level. And... here's where the game falls down. At the end of the first level, the boss is moderately hard to beat. There's a health meter that you have to whittle down, so at least you know where you stand. You can do this if you focus on the boss instead of the other attackers. Once you defeat the boss, the level is over.

Game Failure

Unfortunately, here is also where the game fails. While the first boss and all of the level based attackers are reasonably easy to beat, the second boss you find on the second level is pratically impossible to beat. He's got combos far ahead of yours. He's got attacks that will wipe out half your character's (Ryu) health in just one or two moves. You have none of this. Your weapons are weak at best if you can even land a strike. When you land a strike, it takes away a tiny amount of his health. He's so fast at combos and so quick moving that there is almost nothing that works on him. You can spend probably an hour just trying to get past him and still not succeed. The only thing that even works against him is blocking and that only works minimally. He can still land devastating attacks against your character even when blocking.

This level 2 boss is a prime example of game design failure. This game was very clearly NOT play tested. It was not given to an average game player to find out if the game is actually playable. Instead, they just created it and dumped it on the market. And here's exactly the reason why games like this do not make the money they should (and why I was able to buy it as cheaply as I did).


The graphics on this game are quite literally stunning. The buildings, lighting, trees, everything are about as perfect as they come. Even Ryu, your character, has an excellent outfit and is well made. They did a superb job building the environments. It's too bad that Team Ninja failed so badly at putting together a playable game.


The audio is reasonable, but not outstanding. It works for the context of the video game, but there's nothing here that's going to win awards. The sound effects are ok, but a little on the cheesy side.


I wanted to like this game when it began. But, after the major failure of the boss on the second level, I won't be playing this game any farther. Again, like Dead Space, this is a waste of time and I really don't want to get arthritis in my hands just because they make you constantly and repetitively press buttons and combos.

Note, the second level boss is a boss that should probably have been the final boss of the game and not a boss on the second level. If they had actually let you level your character up to be a more even match, I would have appreciated this game a lot more. Unfortunately, Team Ninja completely botched this game design majorly.

  • Sound: 7/10
  • Graphics: 9.5/10 (outstanding)
  • Gameplay: 5/10 (poor boss design)
  • Story: 6/10 (limited story line)
  • Bugginess: 3/10 (1 crash/lockup, several major slowdowns)
  • Controls: 8.5/10 (reasonable, but not the problem)
  • Bang-to-buck: 2/10 (poorly designed fighting game)
  • Play Value: $5 (rent it)
  • Overall: 4/10 (even with the excellent graphics, gameplay is poor)

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