27 Jun 2008

Status Update

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.

11 Jun 2008

NG2 (YES!!!)

I finally got the game! I ordered the UK version because NG2 isn't available in Germany anyway. I just rushed quickly through the first 2 chapters yesterday evening and holy shit this game is epic. DMC4 was fun, but NG2 is simply on a whole different level in every aspect (yeah, I'm a biased Ninja Gaiden fanboi but anyway...).

One thing I noticed immediately is that the rythm of the game is a bit different then Ninja Gaiden Black. It was a bit harder for me to pull off an Inazuna Drop in the beginning. Ryu's control feels a bit heavier (or one could say, a little bit more realistic). And Jesus are the enemies aggressive right from the beginning. Hold a block for more then 2 seconds and the bastards will rip you apart :o) But due to the new partial life regeneration and plenty of save points, the game feels a bit easier in Way Of The Warrior compared to NGB on Normal difficulty (so far at least).

The gore is a bit too over the top for my taste. Nothing against some blood-spilling, but I felt a bit uneasy after I had reduced a group of 10..20 spider-clan ninjas into a bloody heap of arms, legs and torsos and some glibberish things which I don't want to inspect too closely. At least for the first time. Afterwards it becomes kind of a routine. This is basically the game version of Kill Bill (wow, how cool would that be: playing as a yellow-clad Uma Thurman through NG2...).

I love this game.