Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Retrospective: Red Ninja End of Honor (Ps2/Xbox)

The game is set in the 16th century Japan during the Sengoku period. After a young Kurenai witnessed the brutal execution of her father Ryo by the Black Lizard clan, the girl herself was brutally hung with a tetsugen from a tree and left to die. Miraculously, she survived and was rescued and adopted into a ninja clan where she obtains complete mastery of her adopted weapon, the tetsugen. Pledging her undying loyalty to her new family, Kurenai now lives to avenge her father's death and will go to any means necessary...
....And that's exactly how the story continues to play out. Its your typical revenge Ninja yarn. You wont be coming back to the game for its story or characters that's for sure, but its serviceable 
 Red Ninja is a third-person stealth title, similar to the Tenchu series. Levels tend to consist of having to dispatch enemies with either a kunai blade or fundo (a blunt iron weight) attachment to the tetsugen (The tetsugen also has a hook attachment that allows Kurenai to swing to various places) When the element of stealth fails you, Melee combat can be entered with either the blade or fundo. By dispatching enemies and avoiding injury, you can build Kurenai's ninjutsu gauge, which allows you to enter a sort of "bullet time" in order to quickly eliminate targets. However, as Kurenai is without Armour and significant reach compared with her enemies as they tend to be armed with bows, spears, or katana, most encounters will either injure you or kill you easily. It is best to avoid combat whenever possible by either sneaking, stealth-killing, or using Kurenai's feminine charm to eliminate threats. Indeed you can use your female characters charms to dispatch enemies! A seduction stealth kill is possible to unleash on a single enemy: Kurenai will perform a vaguely suggestive activity and when the character approaches, will drag him down and kill him. Stealth attacks are available if you manage to sneak up on an enemy undetected or use the blade to slice off an unaware enemy's head from a distance if your lucky. All the usual hallmarks of a stealth game also make it into this title IE hiding bodies. You also have several different methods of movement to aid with your stealth. Kurenai can wall-jump, from surface to surface, up to three times in order to find a vantage point or progress. You can flatten yourself against certain walls too, cling to ledges, hang upside down from her tetsugen to kill people, and if running fast enough, can zoom straight up walls until you either run out of momentum or hit something (Wall running cannot be done on all walls though) The game seems to fall squarely into Tenchu territory. Anyone playing those will feel right at home with this game. Bosses will also have to be dispatched
Outside of the, at times, horrendous camera: Red Ninja actually isn't too bad the graphics department. The graphical engine the game uses seems to do well enough, and everything moves at a pretty brisk pace, with no slowdown or clipping of note (The Xbox version has added light bloom effects) The game features a hefty amount of blood that spurt every which way from decapitated foes, which looks eerily similar to how its portrayed in the gory Japanese movies. There's really not much to the game's visuals though to be honest. All the levels & characters are well detailed, With some smooth textures and well detailed characters (The cloth physics for Kurenai 'clothing' are well done) but there's nothing to separate them to any other game set within the same time frame. Other similar games have managed to do creative and interesting things with the whole ancient Japan style though and Red Ninja fails in that regard to make itself stand out from the crowd of Ninja titles we had on Ps2. You could quite easily mistake it for a Tenchu title quite easily. I suppose they thought having a scantily clad female ninja would do more than suffice in that regard.
I picked the game up from a second hand store for £1.49 a couple of months back. I duly fired it up and played through the first few levels before taking a break. Maybe its just that I'm way more tolerable than most gamers, but I actually didn't find it at all that bad, which is probably why I just kept playing. Obviously the camera and lack of imagination in the game design I pointed out are issues, but aside from that nothing else really bothered me. Considering Ninja games have been a little illusive during this generation, its good to go back and see just how many we had then. This is worth a try if you can find it cheap as I have as you may find it to be enjoyable if your tolerant enough and don't expect every game to have perfect mechanics.

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