System: Xbox Category: Action Developer: Tecmo Publisher: Microsoft Players: 1
Ninja Gaiden - Hands On 2/19/2004
By: ZeroTolerance It has been a long wait for me, the time I spent anticipating the first time I would take control of Hayabusa was excruciating.
Today I finally got to sit down with an early build of the game, and to no surprise it engulfed me without even breaking a sweat. I pondered if playing this early version would spoil the feeling I would get from playing the game fresh and complete, but after Tecmo's last delay I simply couldn't stand to wait any longer. While no longer than fifteen minutes in length the demo gives you ample things to play around with. A choice of three weapons, one magic power, and plenty of enemies to practice combos upon. It was heaven in my XBox and needless to say my PS2 was green with envy.
The demo starts you off next to a waterfall, followed by a series of jumps and wall runs to get you used to the controls. Small shurikens fly onto the terrain with directions on how to use your ninja abilities in a geniously disguised tutorial. Once I had the controls down I was ready for some combat. The layout is pretty simple, the X and Y buttons perform your attacks, the left trigger blocks and evades, and the right trigger centers the camera behind you. There is a first person mode which helps in locating jumps, and of course you use A to jump, that is like a videogame standard these days. You can propel shurikens or any other projectile with the B buttons, but be warned the bow and arrows require you to use first person mode to aim.
It takes a while to get used to the setup simply because Ninja Gaiden is an extremely fast paced game. Once the combat starts you have to be completely aware of your surroundings and use your wits to survive. The enemies will learn your patterns and counter them accordingly. Yes this game is challenging, impossible? Not hardly, but the challenge is very welcome in this day of ridiculously easy games. The only complaint I can come up with is the damn camera, sure you can center it anytime but seriously when do you have the time? The action moves at such break neck speeds it is impossible to even worry about the camera. Like I said a minor gripe, and it certainly did not hinder my enjoyment.
The puzzles and items throughout the demo seem like mere distractions from the action. This is a nice diversion for resting up between combat sequences. They consist of finding this item to put in another slot to give you yet another item. Yes boring and simple but as Itagaki stated this game is pure action. The weapons in the demo consist of the traditional ninja sword, a pair of deadly nunchaku with blades on both ends, and a giant sword that weighs around 100 pounds. Each weapons handles completely different which makes for great combat. Speaking of combat this game is smooth, swithcing between enemies is a breeze and you never get tired of the seemingly endless amount of combo attacks Ryu is capable of. This game is an absolute joy to watch as well as play.
Speaking of how it looks this game speaks loudly in the visual department. Smooth textures, blistering frame rates, and drop dead gorgeous animations flood the screen at all times. The environments are huge and extremely detailed, and the particle and destruction effects are jaw dropping. With so much going great for this game what can we expect when Tecmo finally unleashes it upon the world? Well only time will tell but if this demo is any indication, XBox owners are in for one of the best games of 2004. Team Ninja strikes again and I can only pray that DOA Ultimate will be as rewarding. We will let you know how it turns out in March, of course barring any more delays!