So here I am listening to Journey and "Faithfully" has just come on as I open my notepad to write this. It got me thinking that faithfulness in the gaming industry has really disappeared. I mean, we've all known this, but I'm just reflecting on it. In the song "Faithfully" Steve Perry proclaims to be "forever yours…faithfully". This was once the state of the industry, and arguably a much more interesting one, despite maybe not being the best financially. Exclusivity was something to look forward to, but today it has practically evaporated, with the exception of the obvious first-party titles. Grand Theft Auto, Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, Lost Planet, Dead Rising, Final Fantasy, Tekken, among others, have jumped ship. And oddly enough, Journey's "Open Arms" has begun playing with Steve Perry belting out "and now I come to you with open arms."
How apt, wouldn't you say? With open arms is exactly how Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo welcomed franchises that were once previously exclusive to other platforms. So there you go, Journey told the tale of the videogaming industry over 25 years ago. Okay, maybe not. Perry is clearly singing about a woman…or maybe drugs. One or the other. But the point still stands, there is no such thing as exclusive anymore, and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is more proof of this.
After the release of the first Sigma game for the PS3, Tecmo revealed the sequel for the Xbox 360 and touted its exclusivity. Well, now, as is the norm these days, there's a PlayStation 3 version on its way, and it features a ton of extra content, such as new characters, new bosses, new enemies, online co-op, and yes, trophies. This has seemingly become the standard of porting exclusive games to other platforms, pack them with a bunch of extra content as incentive to buy.
Anyways, I'm rambling way too much. I've got an early build of Sigma 2 here and after spending some time with it, here's what I have to say. For starters, it plays very much like the first game. You'll really need to get used to the idea of blocking a lot, because the A.I. is still painfully difficult at times, especially when you're being ambushed. Unlike games like Devil May Cry where you can rush through a horde of enemies, Sigma 2 forces you to take caution.
But the new aspect of combat includes cutting body parts off of your enemies. Now, normally, when you do this in others games, you've killed the enemy. But in Sigma 2, if you've cut off someone's arm, they're still going to attack you until you've properly finished them off. Likewise, if you've cut off their leg, they'll try their best to jump at you using just the one they have left. It really makes for an interesting, and somewhat creepy mechanic, I must admit. But of course, if the head gets severed, that's an instant kill.
Another new combat trait is third-person shooting, where holding down the L2 button puts you into an over-the-shoulder perspective and R2 fires the weapon you have drawn. For example, Ryu and Momiji both have a bow and arrow, while Ayane uses her knives which explode following contact. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone to play online co-op Team Missions with. Now, there is one gripe I have with the Team Missions, and that is when offline, the A.I. controls the co-operative fighter, with no option for a player to jump in. Online is a different story, obviously, but still, it'd have been nice to see offline multiplayer.
Visually, Sigma 2 is extremely smooth looking. The texture details on the characters, while not extremely detailed, are still very nice looking. Certainly what's most impressive about the visuals is the art design and the animation. Now, I did notice that screen-tearing, which should be resolved before the game ships in September. Otherwise, the framerate was tight and the game renders at 1080p – what more do you want?
Chances are, if you're a fan of the series, you're really going to want to purchase this. And even if you beat NGII for the Xbox 360, there's way too much extra content in the PlayStation 3 version (four playable characters, team missions, new bosses, etc.) that's actually worth buying the game for.
September 29th is the day for this one.