maanantai 5. maaliskuuta 2012

REVIEW - Ninja Gaiden Sigma (2007)

GENRE(S): Action
RELEASED: June 2007
DEVELOPER(S): Team Ninja
PUBLISHER(S): Tecmo, Eidos Interactive

The first reworked version of Ninja Gaiden was released on the Xbox as Ninja Gaiden Black in 2005, about a year and a half after the original; although it was a different game in many ways, it was more of a re-release than a remake. In 2006, Ninja Gaiden Sigma (a.k.a. Ninja Gaiden Σ) was announced for the PlayStation 3, and promoted as more of a true enhanced remake of the classic Xbox game. The original game and Black's designer Tomonobu Itagaki immediately ducked from the project and cast judgement on it before it was even complete, and after the game's release, he expressed his disappointment in Team Ninja's efforts very vocally, although he acknowledged that the game did provide PlayStation owners with "a small taste" of true Ninja Gaiden. Itagaki's opinions on Ninja Gaiden Sigma seemed to affect many fans of the franchise, as well, as Ninja Gaiden Sigma is seen by many as the most inferior iteration of the game. I'm not jumping on any bandwagons, I'm unbiased, and I could care less about some embittered former designer's comments on an outsourced remaster of his game... especially when it's better and more comfortable to play than the original. It could use more work in terms of being a next-generation remake, though.

D.D.E. 2007

Is it just me or is that blade shaped like a Batman
How to describe Ninja Gaiden Sigma? Let me try. It's like a director's cut of the original game - except that the director had nothing to do with it. Quite the contrary, in fact. So, let's say that it's a cut by some fan that was pissed off by the original game's worst elements, and attempted to create the perfect Ninja Gaiden experience for casual players. He failed when it comes to the "perfect" part, but still managed to make the game better without killing the tension or the atmosphere of Ninja Gaiden, or any of the elements which made the game stick in the first place, despite its shortcomings. Ninja Gaiden Sigma is still an extremely difficult game, there's no doubt about that. What Yosuke Hayashi figured out that Tomonobu Itagaki didn't, was that a minimal amount of save points do not make up for a difficult game - they make up for a deeply frustrating one. So, he added a few - and just a few more save points make this game a more tolerable experience than the previous versions.

Frankly, I don't understand what is so concretely different about Ninja Gaiden Sigma that originally made Itagaki so furious. If you'd ask me off the record, I'd say he was pissed off due solely to the game being exclusive to the PlayStation 3 instead of his beloved Xbox 360. Even I don't play favourites that much. Ninja Gaiden Sigma offers players new and alternative content, including Rachel as a playable character for a spell, an improved Mission Mode, more combos, and a mere extra chance to be able to just beat the freakin' thing in form of a few more power-ups, combos, weapons and the mentioned save points. I understand the ire of experienced players, who went to incredible lengths to beat the original in its time - I understand that they might perceive Ninja Gaiden Sigma as "too easy". But, I think players who never owned an Xbox, or never managed to beat Ninja Gaiden, or got tired with the game due to its lack of fair play, will get a lot out of Ninja Gaiden Sigma, a lot more than they originally could've guessed.

The graphics have been enhanced, to the point of background textures and character design having a total HD makeover, but the FMV cutscenes have only been remastered instead of completely redone, and a lot of graphical quirks remain, such as doors just magically opening and closing without your character so much as touching them - the HD makeover is very little more than artificial. Graphically, the game is a disappointment - they could've done so much more besides adding some falling leaves to forested areas. This is the PlayStation 3 we're talking about. Also, there's some new music added to menus, but all of the original audio remains intact, including the somewhat lame voiceover work.

Murai might be easier to humble than before,
but he can still make you cry.
When it comes to gameplay, Ninja Gaiden Sigma has several moments in which it hits you as an actual remake. There are several scenes added for both dramatic effect and freshness in gameplay, just one example being that you can actually (try to) fight Doku in the second chapter, and of course, Rachel's eventual playability. To not make this falsely sound like I'm reviewing a perfect game, Rachel's chapters are not that good - extra sequences played through as former NPC's rarely are - and, Ninpo spells in Ninja Gaiden Sigma are another example of Sony desperately trying to find SOME use for the Sixaxis controller. By shaking the controller violently when Ryu's powering up a spell, you can somewhat increase the spell's power. Another Sixaxis-related distraction, right there.

Generally, the controls are better, and more responsive - although Ryu still has problems to respond to direct, simple commands such as "jump" right after a combo - and I love that you don't have to distract yourself by going to the menu each time you need to use a health item or a Devil Elixir. I've lost count how many times I've fucked up a duel (or an all-out assrape) in the original Ninja Gaiden due to being forced to visit the menu in the midst of the worst possible heat. In this version, consumable items can be assigned to the digital pad, which makes combat in general a tad more comfy and easier to focus on. You can even rub your nose this time, if you're quick about it...

...But, Ninja Gaiden Sigma is not an easy game. On the contrary. It gives you more resources than the previous versions, but it requires you to use as much of those resources you can, all the same. Again, having more save points does not make the game any easier, just more tolerable, and even while those extra save points exist, the game still does suffer from having zero checkpoints. The mere idea of having to endure the same big fights over and over and over again, navigating your way through a complex level over and over and over again, "solving its puzzles" and fetching all those key items over and over and over again sounds simply frustrating rather than difficult. I'm also quite serious when I say a fully functional 3D camera does not make the game any easier - it's simply something that should've been part of the game since day one. If you get a hard-on from a camera that simply doesn't work and consider it an element of challenge, you've gotta be somewhat sick. Ninja Gaiden Sigma is more pleasant to play than the original Ninja Gaiden - period.

I think the Sixaxis would've made more difference
if we could've used it on THOSE. You know what
I mean.
Notably better audiovisuals would help Ninja Gaiden Sigma to stand out on the PlayStation 3, though - and, very few PlayStation 3 games that came out this early have Trophy support. Any PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 game has got to have a tracking system to survive in the mainstream. Trophies would've especially helped Ninja Gaiden Sigma to better scores and better response from actual players rather than critics, 'cause it's such a difficult game - not only would've Trophies forced players to keep pushing forward, they would've also made the game last longer in use, obviously so, since that's what Trophies and Achievements do, as long as they're well designed. A PlayStation 3 game without Trophies as leverage is as good as dead and buried in 2012; sadly, that's just how it is. Also, Ninja Gaiden Sigma does not feature any unlockable full-length games; Ninja Gaiden had the original trilogy in its 16-bit form, and Ninja Gaiden Black had a version of the arcade game. Ninja Gaiden Sigma features more exclusive combos to unlock for the same amount of Golden Scarabs; I think squeezing in the Sega games would've continued the tradition and closed the circle quite nicely. Fuck new combos, we want old games!

Ninja Gaiden Sigma has many flaws, and it does feel like another needless re-release of Ninja Gaiden in many ways, but it is the best version of the game available, as well as the only version of the Xbox classic(k) available on Sony's backlog. Again, the lack of Trophies makes it somewhat of a collector's novelty nowadays, but if you're in the mood to push your own and the PS3 controller's endurance to the very limits, it's not a bad idea to brush the dust off Sigma.

+ Better general controls
+ More killer combos and equipment, available earlier and at tolerable prices
+ More save points - they do not make the game easier to play, they just make it easier for you to breathe
+ The most important improvement of 'em all: the full-3D camera 

- I compared the original game, inevitably, to Devil May Cry; Ninja Gaiden Sigma is just as inevitably compared to the incredible God of War, and it totally loses the race by being such a basically dated game
- The audiovisual overhaul is extremely artificial; the game looks and sounds nowhere near a standard PS3 title
- The unlockables are lame
- No Trophies to keep you going
- I nearly broke a knuckle while shaking the controller - Sixaxis should be renamed Sucksasses

< 8.6 >

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti