Ninja Gaiden Sigma II Plus Review
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Despite its flaws, Ninja Gaiden Sigma II Plus is a solid hack-'n-slash title and worth a place in anyone's PS Vita collection.
- The addition of new features such a Tag Mode and touchscreen controls
- The varied fighting styles
- Great soundtrack
- Unstable frame rate
- Lack of online co-op for tag missions
- Some noticeable visual hiccups
Starting way back on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988, the Ninja Gaiden series has gone from strength to strength in subsequent years (Not counting the disaster that was NG3, which i'd rather not remember), though to some fans the constant remaking of previous titles has proven a little frustrating. Typically, developer Team Ninja always add and change features with each new iteration of the games, with Sigma Plus 2 being a port of the PlayStation 3 version of Sigma 2 which released a few years ago (which itself was also a port of the Xbox 360 game, Ninja Gaiden 2). This new PlayStation Vita port has new modes and features which were not in the previous releases, adding to the overall value of the game.
The story follows Ryu Hayabusa as he fights his way through the black spider fang group. During a skirmish with Genshin, the black spider fang leader, the Hayabusa village's Demon statue is pinched by the Queen of the Greater fiends, Elizebet. As such, the game's has Ryu going from area to area trying to retrieve the dragon statue and stop Elizebet's plans. As Sigma II progresses, you realize the main meat of the game lies in its fluid combat system and action-packed gameplay; indeed, the story line may not be the greatest ever written, but Sigma II is still an amazing single player experience as a result of the comprehensive fighting mechanics.
Though most of the core gameplay is the same as the original PS3 port, there have been some slight changes. The gore aspect of the game has returned, as in the original Sigma 2 the blood had been changed from red to purple and the limb chopping from the original version had been removed. Thankfully this has been reintroduced with the new Vita version. And, while the gore is still not to the same standard as the original version, the amount of bloodshed featured in the first title proved a tad excessive so this could be counted as a good thing. In addition, the Hero mode has returned from Sigma Plus for newbie players, and does alleviate the difficultly considerably; however, it's not recommend for anyone who has played hack and slash games before, as you also receive auto block and infinite magic when low on health. Nonetheless, it is still nice feature to have for the less experienced gamers out there.
Another feature which affects the gameplay is the bow, which like the previous Vita Sigma title is controlled with the touchscreen. You can use the right analog stick to aim this weapon once you've touched the icon on the screen, or you can just simply press the enemy to fire -- though this will do slightly less damage than if you targeted them yourself, as it seems to miss quite often. Fortunately there is also a slight improvement from the original Sigma plus on the Vita. In the previous title, you could accidentally equip the bow by touching anywhere on the touchscreen, which has now been addressed. On the flip side though, the developers have added a slightly longer animation to the bow which can cause you to take damage while trying to put it away, which proves frustrating.
Elsewhere, Sigma Plus II packs a brand new mode called Ninja Race; essentially a Time Trial mode which pits you against the clock as you try to beat the missions in the fastest time possible. Throughout gameplay, you can obtain items which increase the time or awards you bonus attacks, and while this may sound easy, it is a lot harder then it looks.
Sadly though the port is far from perfect. Notably, there are a few key issues I was troubled within the story mode, particularly when there are a lot of enemies on the screen, as the frame rate drops to a crawl causing the game to become frustrating in places. This also seems to occur more often when you are in later chapters of the story mode, which is a shame because the amount of enemies that appear on screen have also been decreased from the original Sigma. Furthermore, the graphics seem to become very pixellated in places at times, which can ruin the overall feel of the game, though this doesn't happen very often. There also seems to be a conspicuous lack of effects in places.
Even with all its rough edges, Ninja Gaiden Sigma II Plus is a solid title to add to your Vita library and proves an enjoyable hack-'n-slash romp, though if you already own Sigma II on the PS3, you may want to give this a miss.