"The Ultimate Technique is Flawed"
Ninja Gaiden 3 is the latest title in the long running series from Tecmo Koei. Playing as Ryu Hayabusa, players guide the ninja through his journey to rid himself of a curse brought on him by the souls of the thousands he killed in his previous journeys. While attempting to add quite a few new features with accessibility in mind, Ninja Gaiden 3 takes away many of the features the series is known for, namely difficulty and different ways to fight.
Upon initially loading up the game, it looks and feels like a Ninja Gaiden game, but upon starting the game, the player is forced to deal with a QTE (Quick Time Event). It is here, from the very beginning, that Ninja Gaiden 3 feels like it is going on a downhill slope.
Attempting to take the gameplay of other titles in the series and blend it with options that allow players of all skills level to play the game, Ninja Gaiden 3 has added a few things that simplify gameplay and make the experience feel overly linear. Throughout the game, there is only one sword and ninpo attack available, which makes combat feel empty, without options such as the scythe and flails. There has also been a difficulty added, titled Hero, which does all of the guarding automatically.
Though the equipment and other components have been taken away, in Ninja Gaiden 3, Ryu is able to clear an area of enemies in a few new ways. The Steel on Bone attack is a technique that pops up seemingly randomly where the player is prompted to mash the attack button as the controller vibrates to replicate the feeling of a sword cutting through bones. Ninpo attacks have been changed to operate off of a meter that fills as enemies are killed, but when all of the enemies in a room are killed, the meter empties. There's also another room-clearing attack activated as enemies are killed and Ryu's arm glows red, after which Ryu kills a few enemies instantly. Also of note is guarding and evasion, which has made it easier to actually get behind the enemy.
When actually in a battle, the flow of things doesn't really match what's expected of the series. The game throws a ton of mindless enemies at the player at once; feeling more like a Dynasty Warriors title rather than what would be seen in a Ninja Gaiden title. These enemies either shoot or stab, and they appear throughout the levels in different colors to give the illusion that they're new enemies. The boss battles are simple compared to the previous games and go on a bit too long.
The story of Ninja Gaiden 3 definitely doesn't feel in sync with the other Ninja Gaiden or even Dead or Alive games. Considering Ninja Gaiden is an action game in a series known for stylish enemy kills (enemies who are sometimes suicidal), this is no place to throw in themes of morality. Multiple times in the game, an enemy will take off their head gear and plead with Ryu to not kill them, after which the only option is to kill them, of course. There are also times when the player is battling enemies and suddenly Ryu's walking speed is reduced to a slow crawl, and he must then kill all enemies in this state. The game's main story relies too much on QTE moments to express its events. The worst offender is when climbing and crossing ropes, where the controller's triggers must be pressed rapidly in succession to get across.
Additionally, a multiplayer mode was added to the game that has players joining clans with other players to kill other teams or co-operatively killing enemies in trial missions. The clan battles allow players to use all of the abilities from the single player mode, especially the Steel on Bone, which the other player can escape by mashing a button against the aggressor (did the A.I. try this in story mode?), in addition to a few other abilities such as invisibility. The multiplayer mode in Ninja Gaiden 3 is simple and it feels as if it's only there to justify having an online pass. Although there are ways to escape powerful attacks, once a player has started attacking someone, it’s hard to escape.
Visually, the game doesn't amaze as much as previous titles in the series. Ninja Gaiden 3's environments feel small and congested, with plenty of invisible walls preventing exploration. The graphics appear full of jagged edges, and there are times when shadows on character models flicker constantly.
Unfortunately, Ninja Gaiden 3 is only part of the series by name and the main character. The game doesn't have any huge flaws, but it doesn't excel nor does it match the pedigree the series is known for. If the game was skinned any differently, there wouldn't be anything that says "this is Ninja Gaiden."
GameDynamo's Score for Ninja Gaiden 3 (PS3)
Akil is a big fan of video games and music, specifically fighting games and R&B. Other interests include game design, and comedy. His background in game design combined with his unique worldview and sense of humor makes him someone to follow.
[View Ninja Gaiden 3 images / screenshots +]
[Watch Ninja Gaiden 3 videos / trailers +]
[View more Ninja Gaiden 3 articles (news, previews, reviews) +]
[View Ninja Gaiden 3 cheats / guides +]
More from GameDynamo