An instant classic. That was the almost unanimous opinion of Ninja Gaiden when it dropped on the Xbox with more fanfare than a member of the Royal Family. It was a tough-as-nails, balls-to-the-wall work of art that made every hardcore gamer's must have list. Upgraded via downloadable content and then re-released as Ninja Gaiden Black, the title inched ever closer to action game perfection. Soon, after years of waiting, PlayStation fans will finally get their grubby hands on Ryu Hayabusa and his epic adventure. Having spent some time with the recently released PS3 demo, Ninja Gaiden Sigma, I have to say veteran and newcomer won't be disappointed.
One of the cornerstones of the title's appeal is its visual splendor, and the demo does not disappoint. Sigma is the result of a visual overhaul and the crispness of the graphics shines through, even in a quick play through. A fantastic looking title to begin with, the game simply looks better than ever. It's right at home on a next generation console. The smoothness and grace with which you can cut your enemies down never gets old. It's one of those games that is just fun to watch.
At first, it seems the demo is the same old one you played through years ago before the Xbox version hit. It's not. It might feature the first level of the game, complete with its nunchaku wielding boss, but this time there's much more content to wreak havoc in. First of all, you'll get your choice of weapons to chop up those pesky ninjas. You have access to not just the famed Dragon Sword, but nunchaku, the 2 handed blade Dabilahro, and the staff Lunar. You can even cut your foes down with new dual swords, the aptly named Dragon's Claw and Tiger's Fang.
Completing level one opens up some additional content, including the ability to play through a mission mode as the smoldering temptress, Rachel. Watch out fellas, she carries a big stick and packs a mean punch. You'll need to practice cracking skulls with her Warhammer, as mission mode throws fiends at you with the simple goal of survival. You'll also unlock hard mode, which will bring out tougher enemies but also a chance to peep a look at some redesigned costumes for your foes. The demo even features online rankings based on karma for completed modes. It's a good amount of content for a demo and appears to be just a tease of what the retail game will offer.
A few minor issues tamed a bit of the thrill though. There are still some random camera issues, even when you use the button to center the camera behind you. When split second decisions count, it can end up costing you your life. It ends up making a difficult game even harder. There's also the propensity for midlevel load in the demo, which can have some dire results. Having the game essentially pause for a second in the middle of a battle really hurts the flow of a fight.
Once again, it looks as though what is essentially a port is positioned to be a must play PS3 title. This demo will wake old vets from their slumber, making them ache to play the new content, while simultaneously exciting a whole new potential base of fans. A quick word of warning: Please take into account that the SIXAXIS is wireless, so you'll be able to chuck it even farther in frustration. Better go ahead and buy a spare, Ninja Gaiden is coming back.
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