Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Hands On - July 9th 2009

Tecmo Koei will mark the launch of their new publishing partnership with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, another Playstation 3 exclusive entry in the hugely successful franchise. TGSN went hands on with the game at a recent press event in London.

First of all, let's get the facts and figures out of the way. There are three new playable characters being introduced in Sigma 2, backing up stalwart Ryu Hayabusa who once again returns for this latest adventure. Rachel, who has appeared in previous Ninja Gaiden titles, wasn't available in the version we played. However, Ayane (from Dead or Alive) and Momiji (from Dragon Sword) most certainly were. They each have their own unique set of moves, which cater for different styles of combat (more on that in just a short while).

The campaign has been sliced and diced into different segments. Each of the four characters get their own unique levels that crossover at key moments as you progress through the game. This will add tremendous replay value and allow the more complicated story to be told in a coherent way. Team Ninja have also promised 17 unique levels and an impressive 70 cut scenes to round out this tasty helping of single player action. And it doesn't stop there! Two player online arena co-op, which supports voice chat, difficulty settings, and worldwide leaderboards as standard, will be making an appearance. These specially designed missions will be treated as a standalone addition to an already generous package. Other than that, it's business as usual. Plenty of trademark features have made a welcome return. The enemy A.I are fast and brutal, but thankfully you've still got your Ninpo attacks to get you out of trouble. There's wall running, boss fighting, and Shuriken throwing packed in to keep the action rooted in familiar territory. Perhaps most comfortingly of all, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is just as challenging as any of its predecessors.

Momiji is one of the many new playable characters in the game.

Upon picking up the pad, there can be no doubt that this is a Ninja Gaiden title. Visually, Sigma 2 is in line with our expectations for the series; colourful level design that goes hand in hand with an impressive sense of scale. It looks great on an HD display, and the developer's prior Playstation 3 experience has obviously been put to good use. Although the environments themselves look good, they aren't mind blowing. The characters, however, are stunning, and their movement is [somehow] more frantic than ever. Thankfully, the controls are intuitive enough to handle the pace of the combat.

Ayane kick started our playtest. She is geared towards quick, short range attacks. She also has a nasty exploding projectile in her arsenal that can pierce armour, embedding itself in an enemy before detonating. This was also my first glimpse at the new execution animations. Each character has access to their own set of these finishing moves, and Ayane's are interesting, to say the least. She can decapitate the head, arms, and legs of an unlucky adversary in one effortless move! Unfortunately, they become repetitive after a while. I found myself activating them by accident on a number of occasions. Ayane also felt like the weakest of three characters; her reliance on close quarters combat makes her vulnerable to ranged attacks and larger enemies.

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