Microsoft Game Studios Ninja Gaiden 2
There will be blood
- Incredibly fast and beautiful combat action, tons of weapons and combos, plenty of amazing cinematic moments
- Persistent death by bad camera angle, inconsistent difficulty will aggravate even the hardcore, token puzzle-solving punctuates utter linearity
It's a slick game, but nowhere near as good as what fans have been hoping for.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Ninja Gaiden reinvented an action classic and set the bar for viciously demanding combat. Ryu Hayabusa's lost none of his acrobatic vigour or combat prowess, but a few troubling problems keep this sequel from the soaring heights of a master.
The big show
On the eve of a massive invasion of Tokyo by the Black Spider Ninja Clan, Special Agent Sonia waits for iconic ninja Ryu Hayabusa at Muramasa's shop with a message, but is kidnapped before she can deliver it. Thus begins a rollercoaster that'll take Ryu from the streets of New York City to strange worlds where human feet have never dared to tread. Okay, so you won't find much in the way of coherent storytelling or characterisation in Ninja Gaiden II, but what the tale lacks in craftsmanship it makes up for with plentiful moments of jaw-dropping spectacle.
As inspired as some of the set pieces are, like a werewolf-infested tour of Venice or the steep slopes of Mount Fuji, each is an almost completely linear romp through paths that wander to and fro with no apparent logic or purpose. Injected into these staged spaces are doors to break down and invisible lines to cross, which trigger armies of foes to rush out of nowhere. Though the graphics are certainly slick, you'll never feel like you're exploring a living world, but rather the third-person melee action equivalent of a rail shooter. The occasional jumping puzzle or twenty-second key hunt breaks up the monotony a bit, but they're too few and far between to even qualify as bona fide elements of play.
Luckily, the sterile nature of the nevertheless detailed environments fades into the background any time you're fighting through teeming crowds of fleet-footed ninjas, horned demons, winged beasts, and creepy crawlies. These aren't Kung Fu Theatre rejects who wait patiently for their turn to get pummelled, either: they'll tear into you with incredible speed and effectiveness if you don't learn to block, dash-dodge, counter, and charge-attack like a pro. Sheer visceral spectacle is where Ninja Gaiden II shines the brightest, filling the screen with a gory and ever-shifting maelstrom of colourful costumes, amputated limbs, spraying bodily fluids, and the metallic streaks of Ryu's chosen weapon.
There's trouble in this cinematic paradise, though. The most common cause of death for the skilled warrior is an obstinate camera that's plainly unconcerned with giving you a decent view of the action a solid half the time. Ryu regularly jumps completely off-screen during attacks in any area smaller than an arena. Ninja Gaiden II is perhaps the most blisteringly fastest-paced action combat game ever, and as such demands a prodigious level of timing skill, but how is a newcomer to acquire such skill when he must constantly fiddle with the viewpoint just so they can see what's going on? The ability to save and upload extended clips of your most impressive beat-down sessions with the Ninja Cinema system is wonderful, but we'd gladly trade it in for a camera that more effectively tracked the action.
Though you start with just your dragon sword and ineffectual shurikens, you'll find a wide array of weaponry and a handful of Ninpo spells if you inspect chests and fallen would-be heroes. From a Falcon's Talons gloves-and-boots set that makes Wolverine look like a Care Bear, to the far-reaching devastation of a kusari-gama — it's basically a scythe attached to a long chain — you have a varied arsenal of weaponry at your disposal. You can also upgrade each weapon to unlock huge lists of combos and special attacks. The projectile weapons aren't as awesome: you have options like incendiary shurikens and an underwater spear gun but they're merely novelties, and prove useful only when you come across specific obstacles that have been designed to take advantage of these airborne weapons. Only the Fiend's Bane Bow comes in handy with any regularity, and then only because of foes who send bursts of unblockable rockets hurtling your way at a maddening rate.
This brings us to Ninja Gaiden II's biggest problem (the one aside from the fickle camera that is): its surprisingly uneven difficulty. Hardcore fanatics of the last game will undoubtedly relish the challenges to be found here, but they'll also lament just how inconsistent those challenges are. You'll gain back considerable health each time you clear a wave of baddies, but some nameless side boss could take considerable experimentation to beat, while a climactic confrontation with a major character ends in half a minute. Sometimes you'll face two bosses in a row without a break, or die at the very end of an exhausting skirmish because the damn thing exploded without warning. There's a fairly broad line between intensely challenging and pointlessly aggravating, but Ninja Gaiden II still dances across it too often, even at the easiest difficulty.
Silent but deadly
You might feel a weighty sense of accomplishment for enduring these uneven trials, and you'll undoubtedly enjoy the rich combat system and gorgeous visuals along the way, but by the end you're more likely to breathe a sigh of relief and move on than venture back for an even less forgiving encore. Ninja Gaiden II is a slick and thrill packed action game but it's nowhere near the masterpiece that fans have been clamouring for. It's worth playing through and you'll have plenty of fun but finicky camera and uneven difficulty definitely cuts into the fun.
Join the newsletter!
Apple iMac Pro
Ballistix Sport AT
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Toys for Boys
ESET Smart Security Premium
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
ESET Internet Security
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
Tivoli PAL BT
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 5 Ring Video Doorbell review
Latest News Articles
- Fortnite and PUBG could be banned in China
- Epic Games cuts the once-loved 'Infinity Blade' series from the App Store
- Resident Evil 2 Hands On Preview
- Support for AUD finally comes to Steam (with a catch)
- Intel Extreme Masters Sydney returns for the third consecutive year in 2019
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Oppo R17 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Google Pixel 3 XL review: Ghost in the machine
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies