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MAX Strikes Back

Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2007-10-01 10:07:46

My Name is Max and There Are Several Things I Can Help You With!

MAX seems to have a struck a chord with several of my friends. I didn't think he was that funny, but of course, I hate him for cheeringly grating on my nerves every time I call to check the status of my Xbox 360 repair order. All I did for today's strip was to script out the plotting that was suggested to me by Arturo and others of Squishy Comics fame.

I don't give credence to the notion of "personal tastes" or the equally dubious concept of "subjectivity". If you don't agree that Ninja Gaiden is the best (non-shooter) action game, you're wrong. If you own an Xbox or an Xbox 360, track down a copy of Ninja Gaiden Black. If you own a PlayStation 3, Ninja Gaiden is flat out the best title currently available for it.

Before I gush any further, I already slathered it with love in a previous newspost. I just wanted to share my impressions of the PS3 version, and how much I'm anticipating Ninja Gaiden 2 for the Xbox 360.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma is a reworked version for the PlayStation 3. It feels like a Deluxe Special Director's Cut Collector's Edition DVD. You know, the kind of movie that was great in the theater, that's been peppered with added sequences and minor edits. There are new weapons (the twin swords are awesome), new enemies (including bosses!), Rachel as a playable character, and it feels like tons of little things like save points were readjusted to make the game less painful.

Don't get me wrong; the game is still fucking hard. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I'd swear that merchants and save points are closer to boss fights than in the Xbox version. You can use the d-pad to access potions on the fly instead of hassling through the pause screen. You can also now fire arrows while jumping - when I realized this, the fights with tanks and choppers became a breeze (relatively speaking). I actually commend this decision: going into first-person mode to aim was difficult because it was clumsy, not because it was challenging.

The graphics have been obviously overhauled and Sigma looks terrific, but astute graphics whores will be able to tell that it was based off of original Xbox assets. The cutscenes, in particular, belie their last-gen heritage. Regardless, it was a beautiful game to begin with, and Ninja Gaiden has made a pleasing transition to full 1080 high definition.

The Rachel sequences don't fare as well. To start, I hate her character design. She makes the ladies of Team Ninja's other franchise, Dead or Alive, look understated in comparison. I had just finished playing Heavenly Sword, and that game's heroine, Nariko, is a maximum hottie with a sense of elegance. In contrast, Rachel's key personality traits are the DDDD jubblies that animate entirely independently of her, and her penchant for hunting demons in a dominatrix thong and heels. Worse yet is her gameplay. After enjoying Hayabusa's slick lighting-speed ninja moves, you're forced into Rachel's ponderously sluggish hammer attacks. Worse yet, she has an easily performed instant decapitation move from her defensive posture. While you're in the animation of executing it, you're invincible, so you can just spam this move over and over. I keep telling myself to learn her combos and play legit, but I find myself just wanted to get back to ninja-ness. Fortunately, she only has three levels, and they're fairly brief.

Ultimately, Ninja Gaiden Sigma is more than a port and less than a remake. It's the "best" version in that the graphics are hugely upgraded and the levels benefit from less frustrating (note: I don't mean less hard) layouts. If you already devoted serious time to Ninja Gaiden Black, I'd say that you're not missing out if you give it a pass, but I'm having a blast playing it again on the PlayStation 3. I'm dropping Sigma down one grade for being a superfluous re-release, but it's still jaw-droppingly great.

2008 can't come soon enough for Ninja Gaiden 2.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma (PS3) - A

Now Playing - I'm seeing if I can tackle Master Ninja difficulty this time around with Sigma

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