The Ninja Gaiden series has been around for a while now and is noted for its high difficulty, combat depth, and graphics. With Team Ninja, developer of the Ninja Gaiden franchise, no longer led by Tomonobu Itagaki, Team Ninja decided to streamline the game for a more general appeal. The question is how did it turn out? Read more to find out.
In a word, shallow. The gameplay has been completely dumbed down and stripped of all challenge. There is no longer a list of moves like a fighting game or more modern action games such as God of War. Instead, you just mash buttons as you have either a light attack or heavy attack that each work well against a different type of enemy. You think this would add strategy, but not really since the guys with heavy armor or shields are taken down by heavy attacks while everyone else is impacted by light and/or heavy moves.
Also stripped from the series are multiple weapons and item management. You are now restricted to the sword, the bow, and magic attacks, though you can only use magic when you build up the ability to use it during a fight. This takes away any reason to manage magic attacks for tougher fights since you can just build up your meter again. The same goes for health, since your health regenerates after each fight, health items are no longer in the game taking away another aspect to manage. Also, timing-based obliteration techniques have been swapped out for Ryu charging up his new cursed arm and killing everything around him in a horribly violent way. The worst part about all of this is that the challenge has been stripped out partially because of gameplay changes and partially because of developing the enemies as weak as paper dolls.
Ninja Gaiden 3 has added quick-time events to bigger cinematic boss fights and to regular combat. Once you get past the boring combat that has no depth, there is linear platforming and escape parts where you must find your way to the next combat area or escape from something chasing you. These are pretty fun, though they are short lived. In general, in an attempt to try to streamline gameplay, Team Ninja just ruined what made this series great. On the positive side, it is still incredibly violent and some of the action sequences do look totally rad and you do fight in a ton of different environments.
The game has also added a versus mode where other Ninjas go and battle each other and a co-op mode that is basically Horde Mode from Gears of War, but with only two players.
Now when it comes to presentation, the game is fine. The graphics look solid and the animation is fantastic. Sound is great as you can really feel the pain the enemies are taking when you hear the sword connect with their body and they let out screams of pain.
As for the story, it’s somewhat convoluted. Ryu is trying to stop terrorists from taking over the world. When fighting, he absorbs his dragon sword into his arm and it becomes corrupted from all the people he has killed. This leads to most of the game Ryu thinking about all the horrible things he has done while saving the planet. In one way it’s nice to see a side of Ryu besides super hero ninja badass, but it feels forced and the rest of the plot about the terrorists is just so nonsensical it’s not worth paying any attention.
As a whole, I don’t know who this game is for, Ninja Gaiden and action game fans are going to hate the lack of depth and challenge. Those looking for a game with amazing presentation are going to be disappointed. The things that made this series great like the combo system and overcoming intense difficult obstacles have been stripped away leaving a lifeless shell. If you are looking for the spectacle of Ryu just tearing through hundreds of enemies then you might enjoy this game, otherwise look elsewhere or to the older titles if you want a great action adventure title.
Final Score: 5.0/10