Published on April 11th, 2012 | by Davis Fan0
[Game Review] Ninja Gaiden 3 (PS3)
Summary: Though many games have moved towards a more simplistic approach, Ninja Gaiden 3's direction is pretty uninspired. It's ease is mostly unjustified, providing little reason for most gamers to slug through the story mode.
Franchises, due to their previous entries and reputations, can easily garner a reaction out of gamers and court or lose a purchase decision before they have even seen the new title. Ninja Gaiden is certainly one such title, drawing cringes wherever its name is heard and having had several ports of its original Xbox with easier difficulties included. With the current generation of games all becoming easier and easier, it seemed that the latest title would be the hardcore gamer’s haven, but a playthrough of Ninja Gaiden 3 would quickly prove otherwise.
Ninja Gaiden 3 starts with Ryu Hayabusa being contacted to take down a group of terrorists in London, who apparently have demanded the ninja’s prescence. Once there, he is unsuccessful in taking them down, causing a great deal of damage to London, which prompts the terrorist group to make an additional demand for all governments in the world to submit, leading to a libertarian society of sorts. Unlike many of Tecmo Koei’s other titles, the game includes bilingual audio support in both English and Japanese, though subtitles are often oddly missing.
Visually, the title retains the same graphical superiority that the series is known for. While the levels themselves look beautiful, it all seems wasted on the hopelessly linear levels. That is not to say the game isn’t impressive to watch, with cinematic kills for grunts showcasing Ryu’s sword grinding through each individual’s torsos or having multiple levels within boss fights that blur the presentation between actual gameplay and cutscenes. It’s clear that the team wanted to go for more than just gameplay but wanted to attract players with the exciting presentation of the game.
Fans of older Ninja Gaiden titles will recall how frustrating it was to roll around avoiding attacks almost endlessly, making normal fights with grunts resemble other games’ boss fights. While it will still be effective to do the same in this game, it’s hardly necessary. Taking a more cinematic approach to this title, the developers have made grunts ridiculously easy to eliminate, taking only several hits from Ryu before another strike prompts a cinematic attack that would both kill the grunt and hurt others around him. While impressive to watch, these quickly get repetitive and make the game seem like a sad shadow of its former self. The problem only exacerbates when players realize that, though they will earn new combos and try different swords, they all feel like the exact same weapon.
The ease of the game extends past regular grunts, but pervades itself into almost every aspect of the game. Not only are grunts easy to take down by mashing on the attack buttons, but ninpo, rather than requiring finesse as in earlier games, will simply take down all the enemies in an area and restore health for maximum convenience. To make sure players don’t die on the way to the next battle, the end of every battle restores health as well. And if players are as forgetful as to how to climb or jump walls, the game’s tutorial message function will never fail to remind them even after the tenth wall they encounter. It’s as though the developers were worried players wouldn’t complete the game and has decided to hold their hands along the way.
Though many games have moved towards a more simplistic approach, Ninja Gaiden 3‘s direction is pretty uninspired. It’s ease is mostly unjustified, providing little reason for most gamers to slug through the story mode. While the game’s difficult reputation may have been off putting in the past, it seems that its newest entry will turn away even its legion of hardcore fans.
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Tecmo Koei; Developer: Team Ninja; Players: 1 – 4; Released: March 20, 2012; ESRB: Mature; MSRP: $59.99; Official Site
Note: A retail copy was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.