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Ninja Gaiden II Week

Day 4: Six chapters in - what do we think?

Our Ninja Gaiden week is slowly drawing to a close. Don't forget to check in tomorrow for a chance to win an Xbox 360 signed by Tomonobu Itagaki. The final feature of the week is dedicated to our overall impressions. We've been playing Ninja Gaiden II for a good few weeks now and we've gone through the code more than once. On varying difficulty levels too! Who wants to touch us?

If you don't want to know any story details, it would probably be a good idea to stop reading here, wouldn't it?

So while the full story of Ninja Gaiden II is still under wraps, we do know a few juicy details. A mysterious hotty who goes by the name of Sonia is investigating a secret case on the fiends for the CIA. This gun-wielding, top-heavy female could easily be mistaken for being Rachel from the original. But she's not. Apparently Rachel won't appear in the sequel at all. Group hug?

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The game opens in Sky City Tokyo (final chapter names may change) with said female looking for Ryu at Muramasa (the crazy little bloke who runs the shop). No more than a few questions into her investigation and she's attacked and stolen by the Black Spider Ninja Clan.

To the surprise of almost everyone on the CVG team, Ryu's dad is in the sequel. Plainly called 'Joe', he taught little Ryu everything he knows. What part he plays in the sequel though, you'll have to find out for yourself.

It's at this point, with blood and limbs flying everywhere, that we get our first look at Ryu. He's back and ready to party. You're immediately thrown into heavy combat, charged with tackling several members of the Black Spider Ninja Clan.

But unlike the first game on Xbox, NGII displays tips on how to approach combat one at a time. Skills like the Reverse Wind and Obliteration techniques are introduced at a pace that new players will welcome. Experienced players don't need to give them a second look.

The first chapter of the game sets up the rivalry between you and the Black Spider Ninja Clan that we imagine will run through the course of the game. Initially, you're in a race to save Sonia from the clutches of head spider-man, Genshin. Apparently Genshin's clan and the Hayabusa clan go way back. A bit like England and Argentina when it comes to the World's Greatest Game. We've got a feeling there'll be quite a bit of Genshin throughout the game, too.

Chapter two is dubbed 'The Castle of the Dragon' and takes Ryu back to his battered village that was burnt to a crisp in the first game. Visually everything's had a make-over and getting to run around Hayabusa Village (from a slightly different point of view) is a welcome surprise so early on in the sequel. This is mainly because certain areas are closed off and new areas of the village are open to exploration. Even the extra section that was created for Ninja Gaiden: Sigma is here, though the flames have since been extinguished.

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As discussed in more detail here, the game's combat has been tweaked a little to open it up for more players. While the hardcore Ninja Gaiden fan base (us included) might immediately see that as someone dumbing down the game down in an attempt to sell more units, we can safely say this isn't the case. If anything, moves like the Obliteration Technique will only give a Gaiden veteran more control over the action.

Now that there are more enemies on screen, and battles take place in tight, claustrophobic locations (like corridors and woodland paths), being able to dodge, counter and attack are vital to your success. Chop enough body parts off though and get close enough in and the Obliteration Technique will quickly help you thin the field out. You can be quite systematic about it if you're that kid of gamer.

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