GAME NAME: Ninja Gaiden 3
DEVELOPER(S): Team Ninja
PUBLISHER(S): Tecmo Koei
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360
RELEASE DATE(S): March 23 2012
Ninja Gaiden 3 is the latest chapter in Ryu Hayabusa’s tale and once again behind the curtain in the developers chair is Team Ninja. The only difference is that Tomonobu Itagaki, who has been behind every Ninja Gaiden game since its inception in 1991, is not sitting in the director’s chair for this third installment. Instead a man by the name of Yosuke Hayashi has taken over and this is relevant because, if you see him in the street, you should kick him in the shins while wearing steel-toed boots.
Ninja Gaiden 3 feels like it has been watered down to please a wider audience and this is evident in the gameplay. If you are a fan of quick time events you will be very happy to know that this game has a lot of them. The problem with QTEs is that they have been so overused that implementing them in a game now should be done with subtlety or not at all. Ninja Gaiden 3 didn’t get that memo and throws enough QTEs at you to become annoying. Not only that but nine out of ten of these events require you to hit the X button, which your finger is usually on anyway because it’s one of the two buttons that you use to attack. This renders them completely pointless because they provide no challenge and just break up the flow of combat.
The controls are still super sharp and responsive. A lot sharper than Ryu’s sword because it feels like he is swinging around a child’s plastic toy. Ryu’s blade no longer dismembers his enemies and you will see no sights from the previous titles like heads flying all over the place. Instead Ryu slashes at his foes with lighting speed and force…without cutting off an eyelash. The over-the-top violence and gore is missing and this was one of the things that made the previous games so much fun to play, While there is still blood it feels like it was taken down a notch to reach a younger audience.
The best aspect of Ninja Gaiden 3 is its visuals. Character models are easy on the eyes and the framerate is as smooth as a double malt whiskey. The action is fast and frantic and the games engine does a great job of keeping it stutter free. And that’s where the good ends. The story is weak and forgettable, the camera is too snappy in the heat of the action and actually disorientates you occasionally. Combat is unrewarding and lacking challenge. If you can tap X and Y you have mastered the combat system. A brand new addition is multiplayer and online co-op.The multiplayer feels about as rewarding as the single player campaign and doesn’t add much to the package.
It’s sad to see a game series that has delivered on previous occasions lose its way a bit and go in the wrong direction. While there are elements that have been introduced that could add value to the series going forward, like the multiplayer, most of what is found in Ninja Gaiden 3 is just a shadow of its former greatness. We all know ninjas are supposed to be like shadows but this probably isn’t what they meant when they wrote the rules.