Ninja Gaiden Sigma is the third bout from developers Team Ninja following on from the original XBOX release of Ninja Gaiden and the Xbox 360 adaptation Ninja Gaiden Black. Sigma is entirely exclusive to the PS3 and is essentially a revamped version of the original XBOX release combined with some of the successful elements from Black. The original game has been tweaked and upgraded to provide PS3 owners with the quintessential Ninja Gaiden experience. All the levels have been overhauled, the graphics engine has taken a thrashing, new weapons, techniques, and enemies have been added, and there is even a new playable character thrust into the mix by the name of Rachel that previous Gaiden players will recognise.
Sigma follows the exceptionally talented Ninja, Ryu, on his quest for vengeance after a dark samurai named Doku annihilates his peaceful village and outclasses Ryu in single combat. While the narrative premise may sound relatively simple it is the gameplay that is the true star of this show. Never before had I encountered such a challenging yet extremely satisfying combat system as in Sigma. Ryu is a weapons master of the highest calibre and can wield anything from a kitana blade to a fighting staff with deadly efficiency. On top of this Ryu is probably the most agile character to be found on any action game. Eat you heart out Dante and Kratos, Ryu can run up and along walls and perform a dashing slash attack to decapitate foes, hop from enemy to enemy while plunging his blade into their necks, hell he can even run on water, you name it and Ryu’s up for the challenge.
All this may sound exceptionally difficult to perform with a humble PS3 controller but the controls are remarkably responsive and it doesn’t require much effort to perform even the most complicated techniques.
However, the ease of the combat system is balanced very sharply by the difficulty of the opponents players must dispatch to advance in the game. Even on the basic difficulty setting you must be extremely resourceful in a combat situation especially when pitted against multiple foes of different attack styles. Most enemies are also very agile and simple attacks do a lot of damage to Ryu, so strong emphasis must be placed on evading attacks by jumping, dodging, blocking, and generally using the environment to your advantage and then counter-attacking rather than taking a hack-and-slash approach.
Visually Sigma is stunning. Level design is slick and the environments are beautifully detailed. The lighting is exceptional with each figure having their own shadow scheme that alters depending on light angles. Ryu himself looks the epitome of ninja badass in his shiny black ninja armour and it is a treat just to watch him running with an agile grace and the light reflecting off his sleek attire.
The music compliments the mood of the game exceptionally and hits the right crescendos as the action antes up. If Gears of War was a good reason to get an Xbox 360 then Ninja Gaiden Sigma does the same for the PS3. Play it…or else.