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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Team Ninja
GENRE: Action
March 02, 2004
Ninja Gaiden III

Ninja Gaiden 3

Ninja Gaiden 3

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2

Ninja Gaiden 2

More in this Series
 Written by Nick Doukas  on June 18, 2003

First Impressions: From Teenage Mutants to Beverly Hills, Ninjas are everywhere these days?

So basically ninjas are like?umm?really, really cool. No scratch that, ninjas are badass killers who'll drop you like an overstuffed sack of pork-rinds in 2 seconds flat and do it without a sound. Simply a ripple in the breeze, albeit one that happens to take your liver and pancreas with it. Seriously though, ninjas have been with us for quite some time. Ninjutsu was created in central Honshu, about eleven hundred years ago, and is usually translated as the ?art of stealth?. Between Shinobi, the new Tenchu game and by golly, the focus of our probe today, Xbox's own Ninja Gaiden, gamers will be up to their armpits in ninjas very soon. Prepare to put on your stealth shoes and boogie.

The original Ninja Gaiden (at least here in the states, actually, the series original title in Japan is Ninja Ryukenden) debuted on the NES in 1989, and had the distinction of being one of the first console games to use cinema-scenes to advance the story. Published by Tecmo, the game was a hit and it's large cult following has been frothing at the mouth ever since for a next-gen adventure starring everyone's favorite ninja Ryu Hayabusa. A few guest spots here and there, a few appearances on various other consoles, but nothing definitive for the current age of gaming. Well boys and girls, Ninja Gaiden is looking like gold and I'm here to tell you: this is one serious ninja game, and the developers working as Team Ninja right now are crafting ninja heaven for all of the ninja faithful (wow, that was like, four ninjas in a row!). Enough of my meanderings though, let's have a look, shall we?

Ninja Gaiden will take players through stunningly rendered environments and introduce an incredible play style, one that will allow you to truly become the vengeful warrior as you seek retribution for the massacre of your clan at the cruel hand of the Vigor Empire and their leader, the Holy Emperor. In addition to the destruction of the Empire, Ryu is also tasked with retrieving the magic sword, Ryuken, stolen at the time of the destruction of his brother ninja. As Ryu, gamers will have access to a sizeable arsenal of weapons. Though much is still being kept under wraps at this time, rest assured that Ryu's sword will be a primary melee weapon for skillful ninja combat, and projectile weapons such as shirukens and other, more explosive ranged armaments will come into play as well.

The fighting system and camera work in a synergistic way, and as you fight multiple opponents, the camera aligns dynamically to display the enemy you're currently targeting. Ryu will kick, punch, and use throws and sword slashes in his efforts to destroy his adversaries. He'll also be able to power up his sword into a fiery, elemental power-blade that tears through hordes of thugs in style. You'll make use of the entire gamut of cool ninja moves in battle, like leaping off of the wall, performing a back flip over your opponent's head, and landing behind them for a little impromptu neck surgery (just a little off the top please). Ryu can also briefly run along the wall and grab objects to swing from. Swinging moves are used in combat, as well as for reaching otherwise inaccessible heights. Other combat moves include the ability to perform one-hit kills and pull off flips and handsprings, not to mention the power to roll quickly between enemies. Acquiring new attacks, skills and weapons depends on your in-game decisions and combat performance, and according to the developers, you'll be able to save at any time during play, so once you get your upgrade, it'll be a permanent addition.

Graphically the game is simply stunning, and dare I say, will be something very special to behold when it's complete. The environments are huge and incredibly detailed, filled with real-time light sourcing, reflections, shadows, bump-mapping and a myriad of motion and blur effects that add a dynamic sense of realism to the proceedings. Ryu's character model, as well as the enemy thugs and creatures, are stunningly detailed and rendered at DOA3 quality levels. Imagine battling foot-soldiers in subterranean ruins, or taking on a valley full of giant insects, as you spin, kick, somersault and impale to your hearts content, all the while running through an insanely detailed 3D world that features every graphical trick in the book. Yea, I know? high-praise for a game that's not coming out for some time, but this is something big, I guarantee it. So whether you're a fan of the original or can't tell Ryu from Shinobi, Ninja Gaiden looks like a winner all around. Check back with us here at Gaming Target for more info as the 2003 release date approaches.

Final Thoughts
I've got to admit, I'm truly excited about this game. There's no doubt in my mind that once you lay eyes on not only the graphical goodness that is Ninja Gaiden, but also the stunning play mechanics that Team Ninja are implementing for this title, you'll be hooked like never before. Of the games on the immediate horizon, only Splinter Cell and Panzer Dragoon Orta come close to these kinds of visuals. I'm simply stunned by what I've seen. Ninja Gaiden releases in November, and it's only on Xbox. Don't worry, I promise we'll keep you posted. Now go polish up those stealth moves before you get yourself killed.

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