We're currently in release candidate mode for Drakensang which basically means we're more or less on standby until QA hits the alarm button because they found a show-stopper bug. The good thing is that I can spend most of my time at work actually playing the game from start to finish. Obviously I'm biased, but a truly wonderful game it has become. Of the games I've been involved with in my life, Drakensang is probably the one I am most proud of.
After Drakensang has gone gold I think I can spend more time with Nebula3 and the blog again.
In stark contrast to Drakensang I've spent the last couple of evenings at home mainly with Ninja Gaiden 2. I did a normal play-through on Path Of The Warrior, one Dragon Sword weapon run on Acolyte (which really was too easy), and am currently half-way through a Lunar Staff weapon run on Warrior with many many play-throughs to follow.
Coming straight from Ninja Gaiden Black I had some trouble to adapt to the new style of the game. In the original, fights are against 3 or 4 enemies at once. In NG2 a typical fight is against 10..15 enemies at once. The combo and hit-recovery timing is a bit different in NG2, which made the control feel sluggish to me at the beginning. Also, the polishing grade couldn't be more different. NGB was probably one of the most polished games in history, while the lack of polish in NG2 is quite apparent unfortunately (yes, the camera does indeed have some issues, I had 2 freezes so far, and the game goes into some sort of slow-motion-mode in heavy fighting situations).
But despite these flaws NG2 still trumps any other fighting game I have played so far because the rest is so f*cking great. The core game mechanics are so extremely carefully tuned (and fine-tuned compared to NGB) that the laughable story and less-then-stellar boss-fights are simply not that important. NG2 shines where the player spends the most time with: fighting hordes of ninjas and monsters. The actual combat is so intense and incredibly satisfying that I want to start a new game immediately after finishing the last. There is one special moment in the game involving a staircase and maybe 100 or 200 ninjas which is simply jaw-dropping (and is probably my most favourite gaming moment of all time).
If there ever was a flawed diamond among games, it is Ninja Gaiden 2. Even with its flaws it is a really exceptional game, but if Itagaki and his team of ronin find a way to improve the game as they did with Ninja Gaiden Black the result would be ultimate perfection.