This upgraded port features enhanced visuals, reworked controls and new playable characters, as well as a complete online two-player co-operative mission mode.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 plots you in the shoes of the Ryu Hayabusa, progressing his attempts to stop an anarchic rival ninja clan from reawakening an evil demon. It's all a bit nonsense as far as its plot goes, but it provides the hooks to write a story that sees you hopping between Russia, Mount Fuji and eventually the depths of the underworld. It's in these places that you'll cut people's limbs off.
It's worth nothing at this point that Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is a difficult, difficult game. It's no longer hair-tearing like the XBOX 360 game - things have been tuned - but it's still difficult. In fact, it's probably one of the most truly "hardcore" games available on Playstation 3 this year. Easier difficulties do make it more accessible for those worried about the games difficulty, mind.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2's single-player takes around 8 hours to complete, but the game's trophy structure will require several playthroughs for completionists. There's also an online co-operative mode through a series of challenge missions to keep the game fresh.
Like all good games in its genre, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 constantly dangles a carrot directly in front of your face. It seems to pinpoint the exact moment you might be getting bored with the game's hack and slash nature and throws something new at you to change things up. A new weapon here or a set piece there does the game the world of good — constantly rewarding you without overstaying its welcome. Ninja Gaiden does just enough to keep you hooked right the way through. You'll never get the sense of boredom or repetition. That's an achievement.
The core mechanics of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 rely on its combative gameplay. Thankfully it's totally solid. Despite some ocassional screen tearing, the framerate in Ninja Gaiden is rock solid. It's combo based gameplay make for some excellent visual flair, but also rewarding combat. You'll need to be agile in defence to succeed on some of the harder difficulties too, making combat more than a case of just simply, ahem, pushing Square.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is packed with epic set-pieces. Early on you'll fight a gigantic stone buddha in a futuristic Tokyo before escaping an exploding plane. It's Hollywood stuff. It's not always consistent or even necessary, but it fits in with Gaiden's ridiculous tone. It's exciting.
We told you the game is hard, and a lot of that difficulty can be credited to Ninja Gaiden's excellent AI. The enemies do all the things you'd expect in a game: fight, dodge and block; but their greatest strength is being able to work as a team. Which these guys inherently do. Prepare to get flanked, cornered and generally battered by the enemies in this game. If you're a glutton for punishment, you'll be in your element.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is leaps and bounds better looking than its XBOX 360 adversary. The game really does look gorgeous. Enemies are unbelievably well animated, set atop backdrops full of clear, rich textures. The game's levels also show great artistic variety, from a futuristic Tokyo to a gothic castle setting. It's fantastic.
Some might enjoy the nod to Japanese video game story-telling in Ninja Gaiden Sigma II, but we couldn't help but feel it all a little old-fashioned. The plot is difficult to follow in its textual and cut-scene based format. Thankfully there's little to get out of the story, other than a reason to slash up bad guys.
We don't want to come across all macho, but the lack of gore in Ninja Gaiden Sigma II (removed from XBOX 360 version) is a little jarring. Namely because you're watching people's arms fly off and release a translucent purple gas. Weird.
Rarely Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 tries its hand at being a platformer. This doesn't really succeed with the best results due to the game's combat focused stiff camera. These sections are playable, but far from enjoyable, as frustration often sets in.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 provides a complete online co-operative multiplayer component that we'll discuss in more detail at a later date.
With both Bayonetta and God Of War III not launching until 2010, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is by far the best brawler available on Playstation 3 this year.