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Ninja Gaiden (SPARTAN002 Review)

Ninja Gaiden is on the cutting-edge of action. Take on the role of powerful ninja Ryu Hayabusa, who seeks revenge after his clan is massacred by the Vigor Empire. Taking full advantage of three-dimensional space, advance through the story with only your wits, your ninja skills, and your deadly swordcutting down opponents in the Vigor Empire as you attempt to beat the Holy Emperor and reclaim the magic sword Dark Dragon Blade.

To say that the graphics are beautiful would be a complete and total understatement. Every aspect of the game, the backgrounds, the lighting effects, the animation, and the character designs every single part of the game is a visual feast for the eyes. Its easily the most excellent looking game to charm the Xbox and for that issue one of the finest looking games Ive ever seen. No part of the graphics had to be compromised to bring gamers the phenomenal gameplay that Ninja Gaiden offers and it shows as the game itself is simply a work of art in more ways than one. The game also has a number of simply unbelievable particle effects and lighting designs which only add to the overall visual style. Seriously, some of the things youll see has to be seen to be believed. Level designs are always varied, filled to the brim with many amounts of color and detail, the enemy you face is always new and presents a totally new set of challenges, and youll never ever feel recurring when describing the look and feel of the areas you played through. It is a everlasting proof to just how good this game looks. The cut scenes, however, are even more fantastic than the actual in-game graphics. This is usually the case with most games, as the intermissions generally look much more cinematic in their scope than that actual gameplay. Given the utter magnificence found within the game itself, however, I had expected the cinema sequences to be as good or a little better. However, Tecmo does a one up on me and creates cut scenes that are so superb, so stunning in their appearance that the rest of the game seems to pale in comparison. Every part of the action, every piece of clothing, every strand of grass is brought to life with a intensity and beauty that truly makes it one of a kind. The game is stunning, of that there is no doubt in my mind. Believe the hype.

Youll find many pieces that are simply orchestral in nature, while other pieces involve a heavier slightly more its own style of music to accompany it. Not only does the music compliment the backdrop, but it easily complements the overall intensity of the game. With such a wide range of themes and musical styles, Ninja Gaiden is easily on the best musical scores on the market and never once fails to present a piece that feels out of place. The quality of the compositions is unbelievable and successfully manages to capture the essence of the game. Voice acting is great as well and you do have the ability to choose between English and Japanese performances.

A button used to jump, B button to throw your shurikens, X button to attack and the Y button to unleash your strong attacks. While doing this you can move with the joystick, block with the Left Trigger and centre the camera with the right trigger this can be a pain at times. Melee combat is the central system of attack you will be using through Ninja Gaiden, but dont worry there is a great variety of weapons which you can upgrade and an even better range of combos unique to each weapon. You start off with the Dragon Sword, which when fully upgraded at the later stages in the game is a destructive weapon.  Long Range combat is a good way of preserving your health in those moments where you may not make it. You can keep your distance and with unlimited shurikens whos complaining. There is also the option to use your bow and arrow or the lethal incendiary shurikens for an even greater effect. However, ranged attacks really shouldnt be your primary choice of attack.  Ninpo is the other form of combat in Ninja Gaiden and it can have overwhelming effects on nearby enemies, or you can concentrate it on one enemy for an even deadlier blow. Ninpo is available in 3 types, which are Inferno (fire), Ice Storm and Inazuma (lightning). You will not start with any of them and must be collected through acquiring technique scrolls. A drawback to ninpo is that you can only equip one type at a time, so before you go into battle you must choose which one will help you the most. You should also keep an eye on you Ninpo gauge, every time you use your Ninpo powers you will use up one slot on your Ninpo gauge, which can be replenished through special items or experience orbs. However, the AI in Ninja Gaiden isnt that bad and the enemies can dish out a reasonable bit of damage too, so you will find yourself lessening back on the block button just bit as well. But from the blocking position you are able to perform counter attacks which can then take you to the offensive side of the battle, instead of leaving you blocking in a corner. You also are figuring out a few puzzles and even a rock chase so not all of the game is Hack and Slash.  There are a few flaws in the gameplay believe it or not the major one is the camera. You have no control over it at all, it goes where it wants which sometimes is where you need it, but at critical times you will find yourself wishing you could move it. Cause even if it is slightly off in one of those hectic encounters you may find yourself using one of those valuable Talisman of Rebirth items. You can auto centre the Point of View behind you, but you don't want to keep pressing that button and sometimes behind Ryu isnt where you want the camera to be. The difficulty of Ninja Gaiden is some of the hardest you will find in a console game and will make some gamers throw there controllers (I know I did), mash buttons while the game is reloading after you died, or turn the game off in irritation only to turn it back on minutes later so you can experience it all again. It isnt the kind of difficulty where the enemies overpower you, it is the kind of difficulty where your enemies are smart and the AI that is used for some of them will annoy you for hours. But in my opinion it is a good difficulty that will make u yourself a better gamer we havent seen a game with this much difficulty for a long time. Sure there was the legendary difficulty setting in Halo, but even that got easy after time. Ninja Gaiden will get easier the more you play it just like any other game. But unlike others Tecmo and Team Ninja keep us updated with new and even more difficult missions obtainable through Xbox Live. So with the addition of Downloadable Content (like the "Hurricane Packs" where you can use new weapons and encounter new enemies) over Xbox Live and the Master Ninja online Tournaments, Tecmo has given you another reason to go through this game again. Together with that there is the abilityto unlock many things during gameplay, from costumes, weapons, techniques, combos and even the original 1989 version of Ninja Gaiden.

So there u have it this game is one of the best games I have ever played and Im a proud owner of this game and which I can say This is a worthy title and should be in everyones Xbox collection.  With Xbox live Downloadable Content u can get all the Hurricane Packs which I can say are a whole new game which is about $50 for Ninja Gaiden but the packs are FREE and it leaves u with hours of replay value and as well as unlocking the original Ninja Gaiden games.  This game is hard to put down before you finish it. Some of the boss fights get very hard and frustrating while others are just a breeze. The cut scenes look great and keep you wanting more. This game is worth the $50 you will cherish it every step of the way.

-Korben Carreno (SPARTAN002)