Platforms - PS3, X360
Genre - 3rd Person Action
Aust. Classification – MA15+
Publisher - THQ
Hyabusa is back but now with an added virus that gives him more powers but also leaves him tortured as it tries to take over his body. With strange creatures and futuristic enemies this is no normal Ninja vs. Military style game. It is pure fantasy and brings the superhuman abilities of the ancient mysterious art into a future fantasy world in impressive style. The plot is a bit all over the place, but fairly well acted, with the V for Vendetta type enigma of a Nemesis playing it suitably over the top, think Mark Hamill playing the Joker in the Batman cartoons.
I guess you would call this near future, Ninja based martial arts, fantasy, Sci Fi; but genre-wise it is 3rd Person Action. Now, the plot does become a bit hard to follow at times and there is a time in the game where you enter a simulated world against virtual enemies, then suddenly I was in the real world again and there didn’t seem to be any real story turn or narrative change to explain this. It is speckled with contradictions and I just gave up trying to understand it in the end.
What is absolutely amazing is the speed that this game runs at without becoming a blur. Being a Ninja his moves are super-fast and super human, moving so fast in fact, he leaves a purple silhouette in his wake. Not only does your character perform moves at a million miles an hour but the camera stays with him panning in and out trying to exaggerate and emphasise the action being performed. It balances just on the edge of motion sickness, especially in intense and prolonged actions sequences, but thankfully doesn't quite tip the scales too far in that direction. This Camera orientation can be its own worst enemy at times creating confusion at the height of a battle rather than doing its intended job of showing it off.
Being from this ancient order also allows for some special traversing techniques. Flipping, wall jumping, wall running and other acrobatics that come with the territory and this game does it in such a fluent style that it at times feels automatic. Like Uncharted, Prince of Persia and Infamous, I like games this way and it has a much more cinematic approach than previous Ninja Gaiden games and thankfully like those games it doesn’t have an overload of cutscenes.
Visually this game looks fabulous, with fine detail covered in all aspects of the overall look and style of this game and the motion capture in the cutscenes looks great. The only gripe I have here is a lot of the sword fodder enemies look the same (but this can be said for hundreds of other games as well). Like Bayonetta the mixture of action and Quicktime events is perfectly balanced and at no time did I feel as though I was playing one big cutscene. Given, it isn't implemented as well as this aforementioned masterpiece but it was still impressive and did the job of bridging the chapters well. The dark environments were handled masterfully, the glowy alien bugs set off a glow in the dark blood when you splatter them and because they come on mass, as long as you keep slaughtering bugs, you also get to see where you're going, alleviating the need for a torch or objection pointer.Armed with a Sword, Shurikens, a Bow and Arrow that can lock onto targets and a terrible case of varicose veins to the right arm called "The Grip of Murder". When triggered it forms a veiny tornado, unleashing a deadly round of fatal sword thrusts to surrounding enemies. The other thing I have to mention is the special Ninpo Dragon attack that can be executed once the Ki meter fills with each attack, letting off a visually cool special attack, but this needed more variation to keep up the wow factor in my opinion. This Ninpo power comes in handy especially in the later stages because even though Hyabusa cuts through masses of enemies as though they were butter as it came towards the tail end of the game it suitably always felt as though I was just getting through and just when I was on the edge of death the Ninpo would be ready to use and its health replenishment was then used to slay the rest of them in that section, making for some good tension.
The excellent looking combos are easily executed and they have some spectacular, blood splattering results. However the control system does lack depth and the two action attack button combinations can become a bit restrictive and repetitive. Even mixing it up with some Shurikens and arrows doesn’t seem to add enough. In my opinion this could have easily been rectified with some weapon upgrades or XP spending to get a bit of variety happening. Because of this lack of reward there was no justified reason to keep fighting enemies when you can just cut and run, admittedly this game does not offer too much of an opportunity to do that anyway, using the ye ol' trick of cutting the exit off until all enemies are defeated.One thing that is always nice in games is how remarkably smooth and fluent this is, it seamlessly cuts between action, Quicktime, cutscene and back again. There were a few in-game glitches that had me a bit frustrated but one in particular I will share because it made me giggle like Beavis and Butthead hearing someone say Uranus; as I was held in a solid grip from the mutant Goddess, she just wouldn’t let go, I was prompted to hit square continuously but still nothing, after bringing on early arthritis I realised it was a fault and because of this it looked like a there was bit of weird Ninja and Goddess action happening at the same time. I wish I had of captured it to show you guys but I was too late. Another one, although advantageous to me was a glitch none the less and that was being able to shoot through a concrete wall in one brief section of the game and actually taking out enemies on the other side of it.
There are quite a few cool edge of the seat set pieces, but nothing too memorable but as a sum of its parts, and taking into account the weaknesses, I still enjoyed this game immensely. What can become monotonous combat, is broken up just in time by using a power tor into a cutscene or Quicktime Event that made me forget my thoughts of repetition, until the next time. Fans of the series will be a little disappointed at the over simplified combat and change in direction but newcomers will no doubt find a lot more to love about this game as there are no expectations.For the final score and more, go to Maceman Reviews
Today's forecast: Mostly sunny
9° - 21°