Playstation 3 owners have been waiting a while to get their hands on Team Ninja’s highly acclaimed Ninja Gaiden remake. After its exclusive release on the Xbox and a remixed version simply titled Black, Tecmo decides to put the katana in the hands of PS3 owners with Sigma, Ninja Gaiden’s third reinvention.
Team Ninja claims that Ninja Gaiden: Sigma for the Playstation 3 is a more “complete version” of the exclusive Xbox release from 2004, or its remake that was released a year after the original. They also label the new Ninja Gaiden as a "classic". It’s a debate that can keep a hardcore Ryu Hayabusa fan up all night, however with my two cents added; I’d side with the Tomonobu Itagaki and his crew on this one. Even after three years, Ninja Gaiden is the pinnacle of ninja action and will most likely be remembered just as well as the original arcade hit. If the Playstation 3 version is remembered as the top dog, I don’t know, but it’s now definitely in the dog pen.
Most gamers have come to hear on thing from this review, that Ninja Gaiden: Sigma rocks and that the Playstation 3 version is the best of them all. It’s hard to compare a last generation game to a high definition port to the PS3 with new and remade content. Stranger things have happened, just look at the downgraded port of F.E.A.R. on the PS3. Rest assured there is no reason to worry because the Tecmo has delivered the goods once again. The adage third times a charm must is true in Ninja Gaiden's case.
The third release of Ninja Gaiden takes everything good from the original Xbox game and Ninja Gaiden Black and mixes it into another offering for the game starved Playstation 3. The game essentially is the same deal as before with a few tweaks, new content and mainly a new playable character, Rachel. The fast paced slicing and dicing action of Ninja Gaiden is more refined and feels as fluid as ever. Playing through Ninja Gaiden takes button finger precision and quick dexterity. If you had troubles with the original, expect the same treatment with Sigma, you don't really think Tecmo would make it easier, do you? The questionable, too challenging or just right, Ninja Gaiden Sigma holds up to its end of the bargain and gives Playstation owners a three year update that plays and looks as good as a built from the ground up next generation game. This being said, if you’re not a fan of the original, the new version won’t switch you over. However, if you loved the first two and would like another crack as Ryu, then Sigma can deliver.
The biggest new factor in Sigma is the new character Rachel, the demon hunter who is inserted along with Ryu’s missions. The revealing Rachel is a nice addition, but totally unnecessary. The game was pretty solid the first time around and adding a character for no point rather then new content is a bit of a cope off. Rachel bit part in the original was good enough for me, but since she was added as a playable character I swung with the punches. I didn’t think Rachel’s missions compared to some of the breathtaking moments as Ryu’s which could be blamed on her slower pace. Rachel’s power over speed is quite different from the fast pace of Ryu which can throw you off a bit. Also, I didn’t think the combat was as clever and intense when controlling this voluptuous beauty, I found myself enjoying the break and the finer view. I can’t nock the new content, after all its something fresh and possibly the way Team Ninja wanted Ninja Gaiden in the first place. I think new gamers will be fine with the female bonus of Sigma; it’s only the gamers who have already played the game that might find her to take the role as the bothersome sister.
Besides Rachel and her massive war hammer you will find a few other pleasing changes. The most prominent would be the visual overhaul and the new enemies that are scattered along the way. The three new enemies aren’t really much different from the entries that already inhabit the game, but visually the give you something new to look at. Along the three common enemies, two new bosses to spice things up the special investigator Gamov and the General Dynamo wannabe Alternator. This dual addition was a good idea since one of the highlights to Ninja Gaiden is the intense and frustrating boss fights. Team Ninja also played around with some of the locations as well as removing some of the more tedious encounters and thrown in a new fancy weapon. The new weapon is a dual sword that looks awesome and plays well. The damage amounts have also been played with in Sigma making this weapon and others feel more powerful. Given the perfectionist nature of the team, you can imagine how much thought they put into adjusting factors like damage and artificial intelligence.
Talking about tweaks I’ll point out a few others changes that they have made. Ryu is now a little more nimble as he automatically climbs up small objects or ledges. He can also hop up and run on water while engaged in combat. Other then those changes there are other minor adjustments like shooting arrows in mid air and being able to use restoration items without going through the menu system. All the complaints from the original and even Black seem to be taken care of besides the impossible task of pleasing everyone with the camera pointing direction. One other small point to Sigma is that they have put more shop locations and save points to help the troubled souls through the game. In one aspect it makes Ninja Gaiden a little less challenging, but for those with limited time, save points become very welcomed whenever they arise. If you’re skilled enough to make it through Ninja Gaiden the Mission mode returns from Black along with ability to change costumes and upload your score which includes Rachel. This is a nice reward for the hard work that goes into working your way through the Ninja Gaiden experience.
Graphically the visuals have been enhanced slightly with a few new animations and new textures. Ninja Gaiden Sigma looks right at home on the Playstation 3 with bragging rights on par with the other exclusive PS3 games. Sigma proves the Playstation 3 is a still untapped with potential with its technological accomplish of running the game at 60 fps at the high resolution of 1080p. Hopefully you’ve purchased a high definition TV for this one. The Xbox version already boasted the best graphics on the system so it’s not a shocker that they pushed up the quality for the Playstation 3. If you haven’t played Ninja Gaiden before I think you’ll be more impressed then the regular Ryu clan mates, Ninja Gaiden: Sigma is the real deal and a top notch product that still has the magic touch.
Bringing Ninja Gaiden to the Playstation 3 was a great idea to keep fans occupied until Team Ninja produces a true sequel to their highly acclaimed game. The new content, tweaked gameplay, bonus enemies and extra playable character makes Ninja Gaiden Sigma feel like it’s worth the price tag even if you played, or own the original. Ninja Gaiden Sigma is still an A grade action game that has stood up exceptionally well over the few years.
If you're new to Ninja Gaiden, the Playstation 3 version is as good, if not better then the original. This is a safe purchase for anyone who enjoys challenging action games, fast paced battles and drop dead graphics. Prepare for your senses to be overloaded in this ninjutsu epic.
Gameplay:9, Graphics/Sound:9, Innovation:8, Mojo: 9 Final: 9 / 10