Review by horror_spooky

"A story about a cursed arm...with ninjas"

When Devil May Cry 2 released on the PS2 years ago, it resulted in fan outrage. People were furious with Capcom for what they perceived as a complete tarnishing of the young Devil May Cry franchise. Fast forward to today, and a similar situation is occurring with Ninja Gaiden 3. Fans are angry that Team Ninja has seemingly created one of the worst Ninja Gaiden games. Without Itagaki, was this latest entry in the Ninja Gaiden series doomed to fail?

I don't think so. In fact, I think Ninja Gaiden 3 is a blast. I'm only a casual fan of the series. I've played most of the games, and I've thoroughly enjoyed most of them as well. That being said, Ninja Gaiden 3 was still a lot of fun for me. The gameplay is incredibly simplistic compared to the other games in the series, but why does that have to be a bad thing? It makes the game move at a lot quicker pace, and the QTEs in the game are done right in the sense that they don't rob the game of anything, and only add to the cinematic flair that Ninja Gaiden 3 produces.

Gone are the RPG mechanics found in the other games. Gone is the focus on memorizing enemy patterns. Gone is the bitterly hard difficulty. In its place is more focus on platforming, which pays off, and very simplistic combat. There are essentially two buttons that you will use for combat throughout the entire game, and while that may seem like it would get boring, watching Ryu improvise attacks on screen as you button mash looks very impressive.

The most entertaining segments in Ninja Gaiden 3 are the boss fights. Ninja Gaiden 3 features incredibly clever boss battles that never become frustrating, and most importantly of all, they are a blast. The sense of scale in this game is impressive, even if it is absolutely ridiculous.

The plot in Ninja Gaiden is outright absurd. In the game, Ryu gets his arm cursed, resulting in him having to feel the pain of all those he has killed with his sword. The game uses this plotline to challenge the player's morality. Is Ryu slaughtering thousands of human enemies game after game morally right? Is it justified? Unfortunately, the game doesn't let the player decide, but makes up your mind for you. There is one part in the first level of the game where a guard actually unmasks and gives himself a back-story, explaining that he only took the job to feed his family. There is no choice during this scene. You can only push the stick forward and then kill this poor guy, even when it would have been just as easy to just let him live and continue. Ryu shows no remorse for slaughtering thousands of people throughout the game, and highlighting this character flaw makes him incredibly unlikable. By the time the credits rolled, I hated Ryu, and I was never able to sympathize with his plight in the game.

The plot and the way Team Ninja half-assed what could have been an interesting and fresh story thread is the biggest flaw of Ninja Gaiden 3. It makes the protagonist look like a jerk and serves only to confuse the players since there is no decision making in the game. But the rest of the story is admittedly interesting. While the middle drags a bit, Ninja Gaiden 3 features a dazzling and awe-inspiring finale, with an action-filled plot that reaches a satisfying conclusion. If you enjoy cheesy storylines filled with action and random character turns, then Ninja Gaiden 3 will definitely amuse you.

Besides the single-player component, Ninja Gaiden 3 also has an online-only multiplayer mode. This is the other main flaw of the game. Not only is Ninja Gaiden 3's multiplayer restricted to online-only access, but the game also requires an online pass to access this content. Thankfully there are aspects of the multiplayer that can be enjoyed in a single-player setting, but the bulk of the multiplayer being restricted to online-only was a bad move on Tecmo's part. The multiplayer is passable, featuring limited customization options and mediocre gameplay, but it is fun while it lasts, even if it is sort of unnecessary.

Graphically speaking, Ninja Gaiden 3 shines. The character models are highly detailed, and every battle feels like it's right out of a high-end martial arts film. While slowdown rears its ugly head a couple of times, the game is mostly lag free, even when the action is the most hectic. There are cool enemy designs, especially later on, and absolutely brilliant camera shots that evoke an incredible sense of emotion rivaling that of Metal Gear Solid. Ninja Gaiden 3 is going to be vastly overlooked because of its minor flaws, though, so I fear many gamers will not get the chance to experience the emotional intensity that is to be had with Ninja Gaiden 3 and its art design.

The more hardcore of a Ninja Gaiden fan you are, the less you will like this game. For me, personally, I found it to be an entertaining romp, and a nice change of pace from the exhausting RPGs and repetitive FPS games that we usually have to play nowadays. Ninja Gaiden 3 is not for everyone, but it definitely was for me.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/14/12

Game Release: Ninja Gaiden 3 (US, 03/20/12)


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