Ninja Gaiden has gorgeous graphics, and lets your ninja character move from rural villages to the halls of a techno air ship.
You play Ryu, a ninja whose father has entrusted him with a magic sword. Trouble soon erupts and you are fighting your way through a variety of landscapes, encountering tougher and tougher bosses, and building up your skills. You pick up new weapons, learn more moves, and root out the masterminds behind the disturbances.
The game is very much like Splinter Cell with ninjas. The graphics are really quite impressive, with the flowing scarf and varied textures. The shadows and reflections are right on. The body shapes and movements are quite impressive to look at.
Stealth is a part of your job, being a ninja, but there is a lot of fighting as well. You have a wide array of moves to use in taking down your enemy, including fun wall-jumps a la Prince of Persia. You pick up items along the way to move you along your quest. It's relatively one-directional so you don't end up lost in a giant map, wondering what to do next.
This game is NOT an easy game, so prepare yourself for a lot of work in learning how to use your skills well. Even the easiest bosses take some time to get through. This will be a good challenge for your gameplaying abilities. I see this as a VERY good thing - I dislike games that I just breeze through without any effort.
Recommended if you're up for a fighting adventure challenge, and don't mind a few heads being cut off along the way. Also recommended if you're patient and want to build up your gaming skills. This wouldn't be a good game to rent for just a weekend - it's a game that can keep you busy for weeks if not months!
Buy Ninja Gaiden from Amazon.com
For those interested in history, Ninja Gaiden did not spring into being as this slick stealth came. It was around for many iterations as a side scrolling game for the NES and Sega systems.