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Ninja Gaiden II Week

Day 1: NYC level unveiled - first screens

To kick off CVG's exclusive Ninja Gaiden 2 week we're going to walk you through the latest level to be revealed from the game. As you may have already seen from the shots, it's set in a dark and rainy, fiend-infested New York City, which is split up across two hour-long levels.

So our ninja hero, Ryu Hayabusa, arrives in NYC a few hours into the game and is standin in front of what looks like a post apocalyptic Times Square. It's pissing it down, there's a huge battered city in front of us, and loud cracks of thunder lash out above our heads. We've a feeling that as soon as we move something big is going to jump out and try to steal our dinner money.

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We were sort of right. It's here that we're introduced for the first time in the series to ninja dogs. We don't mean players who could only play the first NG game on the Ninja Dog difficulty setting, we actually mean dogs that are ninjas. They hold swords in their mouths and throw exploding shuriken stars. They're the future of the security industry if you ask us.

Attacking Ryu in packs, they jump, bite, swipe and poke you with feral aggression. It was time to put the pen down and pick up the pad. Using the trusty Dragon Sword and performing simple combos, the ninja dogs are quickly dealt with.

Anyone who's played Ninja Gaiden, Black or Sigma will immediately feel at home with how the controls are mapped out on the 360 controller. X flicks off a quick attack while Y performs strong attack. You can then tap both in different ways for simple combos. The left trigger and stick allow you to nudge (rather than roll) your way around the enemies while blocking their attacks.

Each weapon has several different techniques to learn. And the comboing possibilities are opened more as soon as you start upgrading using the yellows orbs (that transform into currency) down at Muramasa's shop. Fans of the series will be pleased to know that Ryu's awesome DOA special move, the Izuna Drop, is back again. You'll have to upgrade the Dragon Sword before you can use it though.

At this point in the game (a couple of hours in) we've got access to the trusty Dragon Sword, Lunar Staff and newest weapon to be seen so far, the lethal Falcon's Talons. And by lethal we mean you wouldn't want your kids to see what they're capable of.

Think of Wolverine from the X-Men and his massive claws. Now put the claws on your feet too and you've got a weapon that slices and dices body parts like you'd chop vegetables at home. Combo after combo severs hands from arms and legs from bodies. The enemies keep on coming though, sometimes pulling themselves along the floor to try and have one last dig at you.

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While the level opens with quite an 'open world' feel to it things quickly get crowded once you enter the sewers. Ryu is hunting down the greater fiend Alexei, who seems to be the source of a mysterious power that's emanating from the Statue Of Liberty. Ryu has to chop his way though what feels like hundreds of enemies before taking on a massive battle atop Lady Liberty. Between you and that goal though are plenty of Spider Clan members hellbent on stealing the mysterious 'Sonya' that seems to have befriended Ryu.

With earlier levels having already eased you in by teaching you the basics of moving like a ninja, NYC's underground system is pretty easy to traverse. There are plenty of nail-biting jumps to make and a lot of them require a bit of wall running (especially of you want to collect all the Crystal Skulls, which are the equivalent of the first game's collectable Scarabs). For example, you might have to run along a wall and then time your jump perfectly to reach the other wall, continue running and jumping to another wall again.

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