Monday, April 9, 2012

Ninja Gaiden 3 Review

Games that are now reaching the third game in their franchise were generally Xbox 360 launch titles or at the very least games that have only existed in this generation. Ninja Gaiden was in fact a title that was released around the launch of the original Xbox. I remember picking up the game after playing it extensively on my Xbox’s demo disc which showcased some of the top titles available. The game was absolutely brutal in both the difficulty and damage you could potentially inflict onto your opponents. Especially in the sequel, chopping up an opponent limb from limb was an awesome spectacle. Those wanting more of the same in Ninja Gaiden 3 will be sorely disappointed though. The franchise seems to have taken a wider approach to the game. Gone is the extreme difficulty at all levels, so is the removal of limbs in favour of a hack ‘n slash experience that is action driven. It’s a big risk, but did it pay off? 


Ever since the original title, the Ninja Gaiden series has been a beautiful spectacle that relies on brilliant animations of the main character in contrast to his surroundings. Ninja Gaiden 3 is no different, with top class animations throughout the entire game. Cutscenes in the game are detailed and the character models look excellent. Lip syncing isn’t perfect but you won’t notice it unless you really pay close attention. The different areas around the world that you travel to are all unique and a lot of attention has been paid to filling out the world with different objects. While character models are repeated a lot over the entire game, the boss characters look awesome. I’m glad that the change in game style didn’t affect how much love and care was put into making the best looking game possible.

For those who aren’t expert ninjas, you are essentially a modern day Ezio. An Assassin who can wield blades with extreme fury and delivering some devastating moves. You will be moving around the screen with speed barely captured by the naked eye. The special effects provided when you move deliver that sense of speed. As you dart from place to place a blue outline of where you previously were gives that feeling of jumping time and space. You will be fighting opponents with such intense speed and ferocity that it is hard to tell what is going on. The camera loves to zoom in on the action and you will find it darting around constantly as you move from person to person. I personally love this, it centres the action and lets you focus on just one opponent instead of worrying about the increasing numbers on the screen. Slow motion quicktime events during battle are an absolute joy to watch and unleashing some of your devastating powers will be unleashed with graphical prowess as the camera follows you on a journey of intense mayhem.

You aren’t going to be hearing much in this game apart from the effort put in from Ryu Hayabusa and the cries of defeat as he slays those who stand in his way. There isn’t much in terms of a true musical score and sound effects are limited during the game. While you will hear the standard crashes and bashes from explosions and attacks from enemies, there isn’t anything that will blow you away. It does a nice job of setting the scene and delivering the loud strikes to an opponents body. Voice acting is nicely done and the characters seem to fit their voices which is a good thing. It is high quality acting, even if the characters do lack any sort of emotion. Playing through I only took this as being because a ninja can’t get emotionally attached being a master of stealth and skill. For others though, they may find the characters a bit bland. 


As I stated in the introduction, this is a new age Ninja Gaiden that is more appealing to a larger demographic of people over those who just like an extreme challenge. While the top difficulty levels still promote strategy and quick movements for survival, the easier difficulties can now be progressed through by a variety of hacking with even more slashing. Players can play through Ninja Gaiden just enjoying the serious fighting that is going on over worrying about how the hell they are actually going to get through it. This is a good thing in my view, while Ninja Gaiden purists aren’t going to agree. That being said, those who don’t agree with the arcade approach also won’t like multiplayer which is accompanying Ryu’s journey.

The premise of the story is quite barebones and throws you into the story, only to reveal the true motive behind your adventure at the end of the first chapter. You basically have 7 days to jet around the world, destroying certain enemies to stop this evil group while at the same time fight this virus that is slowly infecting your arm. This could’ve been a deep story but merely turns into an excuse to go to different locations. You won’t be tugging on any of those heart strings with Ryu’s globetrotting adventure.

Ninja Gaiden 3 is an action orientated experience that is streamlined to focus on this aspect of the game. The game basically unravels by having a platforming section that will utilize many of the skills learnt early on in the game, followed by a fight against multiple enemies that may come in more than one wave. A boss battle will appear at the end of every day and more appear during some parts of the game as well. It is a fairly basic concept and those who don’t like it from the beginning won’t enjoy it the further they travel into the game.

Action is fast, intense and a lot of fun to play. You can use easy light or heavy attacks to start with and end up having a whole array of weapons and special abilities to use alongside counterattacking and rolling/jumping out of harms away. What starts as a basic experience actually grows into something more sophisticated by games end. This is handy to mix up the game and throw a variety of tactics into play, even if the bulk of the game actually stays the same. You can walk through the game at a leisurely pace on easy levels but harder difficulties will test you to your extremes with tougher opponents.

While being a single player driven experience previously, there is now multiplayer involved in the Ninja Gaiden franchise. While this could’ve seemed obvious since even the best games that I see as single player only now incorporate multiplayer, it’s nice to see yet another interesting take on it. Like Assassin’s Creed, you incorporate the skills you learn as a ninja into multiplayer and basically run around a variety of game modes competing against others in teams. It is quite a lot of fun and once you get into a game you can see how your skills truly hold up. Whether this is going to be supported as well as Assassin’s Creed, well time will tell I suppose.


Personally, I liked the platforming and awesome fighting available over the skill level required for entry in the previous games. Taking a more action driven approach is great for me and I can safely say that I enjoyed this game more than the Ninja Gaiden’s of old. The story is a bit bland and lifeless and the multiplayer needs to be reassessed in a couple of months to see if it still breathes life. Overall though this is a solid package and action orientated ninjas will have an excellent time hacking and slashing through this textbook action experience

Graphics - 8.5/10
Sound - 6/10
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Overall - 7.5/10