Ninja Gaiden is arguably one of the best games of the last console generation, both in terms of action game play and visuals. A year later, Ninja Gaiden Black was released, adding some things, such as Mission Mode, while revising others. Team Ninja is back with a PS3 exclusive, bringing the third iteration of the same game, Ninja Gaiden Sigma.
This is not a sequel, or a "best of," but rather another refinement on what is a must-play experience. If you did not play this Xbox classic, now is the time to pick it up on the PS3. The additions this time are meaty, with some subtle game play and level design tweaks that ultimately make for a more enjoyable game.
Rachel, the daemon hunter, is now a playable character. Her chapters now fit into the mix, and help flesh out the story a little more. She fights quite differently than Ryu, and this switches things up a bit. She also has missions in Mission Mode, but with only three chapters in the main story, her time on screen is still brief. Her presence in the game also brings new bosses, adding to the already high count (not a bad thing).
Along with new bosses, changed or deleted puzzles, extra enemy types, and re-worked cut scenes — some are now rendered in-game, which allows for interactivity — the game also gets a boost in gloss with shiny new 1080p high definition graphics. Considering how good Ninja Gaiden looked in 2004, this version does not "pop" as much as it could, but it sure is pretty.
Minor, but noticeable, game play enhancements have been made. You can now run on water much easier, for example. The addition of a new weapon for Ryu, Dragon's Claw & Tiger's Fang (dual katanas), and other game tweaks, make this version of the game much less irritating in almost every way. I wouldn't go as far to say it is "easier" but it's more enjoyable.
The only thing that did not get fixed, at least not in an overall sense, is the camera. In tight corners, the camera can be downright nasty. The designers also saw fit to tack on SIXAXIS control, which might have sounded good on paper. To give more power to your ninpo attacks, you shake the controller. This is quite literally jarring in the middle of a battle.
The game itself is quite extensive, and will take 20-25 hours to get through, depending on your skill level. Ninja Gaiden is known for being brutally hard, and Sigma is no different. Once the story mode is completed, mission mode is unlocked, adding even more to do.
If you are new to the game, don't think you need to have played the Xbox versions, as the PS3 has by far the most refined and extensive game of the lot. Ninja Gaiden Sigma is a wonderful addition to the PS3 library, with its well balanced, yet challenging game play. You really feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the game. You have really got to work for it.
Sigma also includes online leaderboards, so work for it you shall, to best your friends. There are no other online functions of the game past the rankings, but they should get the competitive juices flowing.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma is one of the most brutal and visceral games you will play, and should not be missed. This game is easily as fun the third time around.
The Good: Items are now mapped to the D-Pad, which means fewer trips out of the action to fumble through the menu system. The PS3 gets the best version yet.
The Bad: This is the same game we have played twice before. The third time might be a bit much for some people. Some features of Black have been removed, sadly.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Suggestive Themes.