April 24, 2013
Ninja Gaiden 2 Sigma Plus is the third release of Ninja Gaiden 2 and is a very feature heavy title as a result. Along with the game's long story mode, you have all the new characters added to the Sigma version, new costumes, and even some new game modes. A big return for this title is the game's gore. Previously removed from the PS3 version for technical reasons, blood makes a return that helps sell the whole experience even more.
You once again play as the iconic Ryu Hayabusa in a crazy adventure. The story is the same as it was before, but to be honest, that never really matters while playing the game. Sure some might be interested to learn about why the demons are hijacking the Statue of Liberty, but most are there to play a challenging action game. A good amount of fan service also keeps the fans of the overly proportioned ladies entertained during the majority of cutscenes anyway.
The gameplay is all that matters when playing a Ninja Gaiden game and this is why it is so disheartening that Sigma 2 Plus gets a few things wrong that ruin the majority of the experience. Ever since the original Ninja Gaiden on Xbox, the series has been running at a fast paced 60fps (frames per second). Sigma 2 Plus on the other hand can only run at 30fps and this makes the game feel like it's at a snails pace.
A good comparison to these different feels is new DmC: Devil May Cry compared to classic Devil May Cry. Devil May Cry and DmC are both great, but have very different sense of speed to each game so they are enjoyable in their own ways. Sigma 2 Plus does nothing to adjust to the slowed down gameplay and while new players might not care it really shows its cracks the longer the game goes on.
A game like Ninja Gaiden is all about timing and difficulty ramping up as you get further in the game. This means the further you get in the game you will need to stay on your toes to survive. The slowed down gameplay now takes away that challenge of fast paced, hard to read enemies you had before and will make the game feel like it is in constant bullet time. A series renowned for its difficulty should not feel this easy to complete and should be take dedication to complete.
That being said the gameplay still has its moments and all the different ninja weapons, skills, and ninpo to learn still satisfy. The game retains its extremely deep combat system with hard to pull off combos with satisfying results. That feeling of dismembering countless numbers of enemies never gets old and the over the top gore is back in full force thankfully.
Porting the game over to the Vita really shows off some nice moments, but the technical limitations are still a big turn off if you couldn't stand it in Sigma Plus before. Besides the 30fps issue the game really does tout some impressive visuals for the system. Ninja Gaiden 2 was a great looking game back on the 360 and each port has improved that graphical quality even more.
Besides a few new costumes and female characters to play as, the Vita version also includes two brand new modes. Ninja Race is a fast paced version that lets you replay levels in a old fashioned time trial mode, but this one is really for the dedicated players out there. Then there is Tag Missions where you can team up with another ninja to complete a mission. If you thought that the game played slow at 30 fps before, Tag Missions bring things to a screeching halt and two ninjas apparently are to much even for the Vita to handle. These missions can get so slow that playing them ends up feeling like a glorified slideshow.
It is too bad that Team Ninja couldn't add any notable features to this portable version, but the features from the main game and even Sigma 2's previous co-op missions still hold up. The game has many fault, but for fans of the series it is still a fun portable title to have if you don't have anything to play on your Vita. That being said its problems are extremely noticeable and will leave a bad taste in many fans mouths who have been with series on the consoles.
While the original Sigma Plus felt like a quick launch title, Sigma 2 Plus takes baby steps towards getting better and it succeeds in many places. Still unless some technical wizard steps into the development team over at Team Ninja, they shouldn't even try to bring Ninja Gaiden 3 to Vita. Die hard fans of the series who need something to do on their Vita will still find fun in Sigma 2 Plus, but at the loss of what made the series so special back in the day.