Ninja Gaiden Powers Up for Sigma
When Ninja Gaiden was released three years ago on Xbox, many considered it one of the finest action games ever thanks to deep gameplay, gorgeous graphics and great replay value. A year later, developer Team Ninja rereleased the game, calling it Ninja Gaiden Black, with greater difficulty, extra missions and a new weapon (a staff) adding to the overall experience. Now, there's another rerelease, Ninja Gaiden Sigma, this time for PlayStation 3.
In the game, players assume the role of Ryu Hayabusa, a ninja of the Hayabusa clan and a descendant of the Dragon Lineage. Unbeknownst to Ryu, the Vigoor Empire, which is searching for the Dark Dragon Blade, slaughters Ryu's tribe. Now it is up to him to find those responsible for murdering his loved ones and bringing back the sacred blade.
As in the Xbox version, Ryu learns new moves and obtains a vast assortment of weapons. Sigma introduces the Dragon's Claw and Tiger's Fang, which are double swords Ryu wields with as much if not more power than his default Dragon Sword. Using those twin swords is an awesome experience and a welcome edition to Ryu's repertoire.
Sigma also expands the story line with three new chapters. During those missions, players control Rachel, the Fiend Hunter. In the original game, she was seen only in cut scenes. The extra missions help tie up loose ends; you finally understand what she was doing while you played through Hayabusa's story.
Sigma looks great. The character models look more detailed than in previous installments, and the overall look is almost top-notch. I say "almost" because there are some textures on buildings and backgrounds that look as if they are the same from the original.
The sound is hit-and-miss. The sound effects of each weapon as they slash an enemy are precise and realistic, but the music is a mixed bag. Some stages have appropriate music, giving you a sense of urgency; at other times the hard-rock tunes seem out of place.
My main complaint is the Rachel missions. Although they further the story, controlling her can be a chore because she is a slow-moving character who relies on defense. Playing her missions makes you appreciate Ryu's that much more. Still, this is the best version of one of the finest titles around. Now, enough remakes. Bring on the sequel.
-- Gregory McDougal
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Mature; PlayStation 3 ($60) Tecmo/Team Ninja