When everyone else appears obsessed with making games more 'accessible' (boo!) and 'family friendly' (hiss!), what a pleasure it is to welcome back to the gaming fold Tomonobu Itagaki's unapologetically hardcore take on the veteran Ninja Gaiden series.
The 2004 Xbox-exclusive revival of the action-adventure boasted a complex but brutally unforgiving combat system which caused many a gamer's resolve to collapse in the face of the massive challenge. But for the brave of heart (and vast of patience) who persevered and mastered its intracacies, it became one of the defining action titles of the last generation.
It seems apt, then, that the much-hyped sequel should once again appear exclusively on an Xbox console - a system that cannot shake its hardcore reputation, try as Microsoft's marketing ninjas might. But it's a tag that developer Team Ninja sports with pride - and celebrates with a sea of crimson carrying forth the fleshy remains of a thousand severed limbs.
So, as you probably know, Ninja Gaiden 2 delights in the fragility of flesh. "No other action game comes close to Ninja Gaiden 2 for looks, for animation or for ferocity," insisted Rob in his review earlier this week . "Technical problems" and a reliance on "cheap shots" to spike the difficulty elicited a still-commendable seven out of 10 from our man.
But, judging by the forums, there are those of you who would dare to disagree and will not be silenced until the game is finally spinning wildy in your disc tray come June 6th. So before then, we've been slicing our way through the game to bring you a round-up of exclusive gameplay clips to give you a taster of what to expect from Ryu's riotous return.
Ryu's weapon, magic and athletic skills are pushed to the limit in this clip - it's like Gladiators for ninjas, with added giant human death-bats. Get a taster for how the Achievements are structured, before wincing as a boss goes to work with some serious moves.
Ninja Gaiden 2 wouldn't be a hardcore action title without combos. We're quite sure you'll be able to beat our meagre effort, but the towerblock acrobatics will be welcome respite for claustrophobes. And we can certainly empathise with the extreme office-based violence.
Another frantic tunnel fight further into the game, this time up against freakishly oversized insectoids. The clip culminates in another epic boss battle versus the mother of all worms. Dad must be exhausted.
In a game like this, it's a safe bet that entering an old house isn't going to offer up much in the way of relief and sanctuary. And so, spectacularly, it proves; but after the scrapping and item-collection, Ryu knows how to make a stylish exit.
If you haven't figured it out by now, those who suffer with acute insect-related phobias may not find Ninja Gaiden 2 a particularly amenable experience. The mountains provide a beautiful backdrop, but the mutant man-spider is straight out of your nightmares.
Last, in this roundup, but not least, we take at look at Ninja Cinema, the feature which lets you record and share your greatest ninja feats via Xbox Live, applying a neat visual effect for added posturing. When Ryu went down to the woods today, he was sure of a big surprise.
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