Having long awaited the release of this game, I can finally tell you that it was definately worth the wait.
Chances are those of you that want this will have played NG1, but if you didn't, a basic synopsis would go something like "you play a kickass techno ninja who has to bring down an evil corporation and fight lots of mean assed bosses".
You play as Ryu Hayabusa, legendary Dragon Ninja. The Black Spider Clan has stolen an ancient statue in protection in the Dragon Village which allows them to ressurrect greater fiends, and then the archfiend (that's bad...)
Following a loose storyline, you play Ryu's travels around the world as he attempts to put a stop to the madness and prevent the awakening of the archfiend.
The gameplay in this title is split between 2 main veins. The major one is combat (and there's lots of it!). Enemies usually attack you in swarms and it's up to you to bring them down with only your speed and reflexes to count on. There are 8 different primary weapons, four secondary weapons, and four ninpo (Magical spells) to use, so there are weapons for every situation and enemy, and a new "on the fly" equipment switching system really makes the game more accessible. The game is really REALLY difficult, and if the droves of spawning enemies aren't enough, then the ridiculously huge and relentless bosses will be the ones to hand your ass to you, crispy and well done.
The other main gameplay element is exploration and platforming, but it never gets frustrating due to the tight control system and completely adjustable camera angles.
This game's blood and violence is uncensored, and now you can wound some enemies by lopping off vital body parts. Once you've done this, you can initiate an "obliteration technique" that finishes your enemies off in sick style, netting you more points and even more gore.
Graphics are absolutely sublime, and you get to visit all sorts of real world locations (including I think Venice and Russia) and New York. The wind effects streaming over the airship on Chapter 7 are amazing, and I won't spoil the epic ending to the level for you.
The game is also extremely long, I am at chapter 8 and have spent 6.5 hours already out of 15 (I am told!) chapters. Along the way you can undertake optional challenges for extra achievement points and secret upgrade items to help your survival in later levels.
Another neat feature I would like to add is auto health regeneration. Between battles, any lost health is refilled, but cumulative damage reduces the "refillable" portion of the health bar (e.g. fatal wounds). This makes the game more accessible to newcomers, but to veterans the difficulty is not compromised, since the enemies have been made deliberately harder to compensate.
All in all, Tecmo have done an awesome job on this, but I would like to REALLY stress that it is difficult. For those who know, it makes DMC4 on SoS mode seem like a walk in the park. So, NG2 is a worthy sequel to NG1, and although it doesn't surpass it, both games can be held in equal regard. If you have a 360 you need this game.
+ HUGE selection of weapons.
+ Slick and tight combat controls.
+ Gorgeous graphics and sound.
+ Refreshingly violent.
+ Lots of optional challenges and extras.
+ Four difficulty levels.
+ New gameplay features make the game incredibly accessible.
+ Awesome boss fights.
- May still be too difficult even for seasoned gamers.
- Being swarmed by gaggles of enemies sometimes seems ridiculously unfair.
- Some minor balance issues with later enemies.
- A lot more linear than it's predecessor.