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Review: Ninja Gaiden 3

by on April 26, 2012
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I’m not going to sugarcoat this review—Ninja Gaiden 3 is a bad game. Borderline awful, even. There’s no amount of DLC, no number of patches, and absolutely zero justification pronounceable in human tongue by any sentient being that could somehow make Team Ninja‘s latest “effort” even remotely okay.

After two incredibly brutal games, Team Ninja return for the third chronological entry of the Ninja Gaiden series, Ninja Gaiden 3. Though Tomonobu Itagaki was not directing the title, leaving Team Ninja altogether to pursue The Devil’s Third with a new team at Valhalla Studios, Yosuke Hayashi, designer on all of the Sigma games, stepped up as the lead, showing a great deal of promise, though inexperienced.

There’s virtually no point to touch on anything that doesn’t have to do with combat as far as the series is concerned. I mean, really, who gives a damn about the enemies’ intentions or the purpose of Ryu Hayabusa’s adventure therein? Ninja Gaiden has always been—and always should be—about rage-inducing, visceral combat, laden with bombastic attacks, varied combos, and a heightened sensory connection with your on-screen ninja avatar as you predict your foes’ wild moves in an attempt to survive.

I can say this about Ninja Gaiden 3—this newly restructured Team Ninja have created a rather decent Dynasty Warriors title, but have completely failed at making a Ninja Gaiden game. One of the most glaring issues that Ninja Gaiden 3 carries is that quality has been traded for quantity. Rather than finding yourself against normal foes who make you think on your ninja toes, wave after wave of generic soldier guy will come at you ready to be cut down with what feels like WAY more slices than necessary, especially for how lightly armored the majority of them are.

As such, combat feels dumbed down, having you execute the same unimpressive series of strikes intermittently slashing a more powerful blow to add some variety, but outside of that, you’ll find Ryu repeating the same combination again and again, with the same animations again and again, and the same lack of satisfaction again and again.

“Hey, guys! Look what I can d—guys? Hello? Anyone? …Bueller?”

This is a combat-based game with no heart or soul in its most important aspect—combat. Despite everything else that could be considered average to above-average, like the sound, graphics, music, and story, the combat falls flat on its face and has a hard time getting and staying up. The worst part? The control scheme for the game rivals some of least responsive titles I’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing. Pressing an attack button does not always elicit an on-screen response, whereas jumping and dodging are surprisingly on point.

A stripped down battle system doesn’t just stay at sword play, either. User upgrades have been completely done away with in favor of story-implemented weapon upgrades for your sword and mystical arrows for your bow, alongside an unlimited supply of shuriken that seem to do very little outside of slightly impairing enemies for a microsecond. After that, all but one of the Ninpo have been removed, the remaining mystical power transforming Ryu into a dragon to destroy all on-screen enemies and regain some health in a respective ratio.

There’s nothing to talk about regarding the multiplayer, either, being just another mundane offering from an already vapid contribution to the continuation. It’s just one more way to be tortured, but using an online pass and being able to do so with more than one person.

What is there to say about a series that has been neutered, losing any bit of flash and flair from the most essential of conditions? Outside of the graphical update from the last entry and a sound design that can only be described as adequate, there’s nothing here saying, “Hey, look at me!” in regards to Ninja Gaiden 3. What could’ve been a great display of fireworks after having the proclaimed series’ visionary depart ended up being little more than a lit sparkler.

This review would’ve probably been better suited by a short video of me stabbing myself in the eye. Repeatedly.

Ninja Gaiden 3 is currently available from Amazon for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at the price point of $59.99. For more information on how we review games, check out our criteria here. An Xbox 360 version of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. If you have any questions about this title, feel free to ask in the comment section below.

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  • Kelsey Miller
    May 2, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Ouch, maybe I’ll wait until it’s uber cheap to buy it. Out of curiosity, though, how did you feel about the story, per say? You said it was unimportant in relationship to the franchise, but still, was it decent? And, if it were to stand alone, if you hadn’t played the previous games, how would you feel about it?

  • zachary
    May 3, 2012 at 10:51 am

    you and most other reveiwers are so ignorant. its hard to think why you say you were a ninja gaiden fan to bgin with. i dont understand how u think the non stop, repetitive fast paced action has gotn soooo much different its a dynasty warriors game??? lol get the hell outta here wit that sht man! if youve played any other ninja gaiden u kno its the same sht in every room u enter non stop fkn action and this bullsht about the ninja stars barely doin anything to enemies is fkn stupid! its always been that way…wtf??? and as far as doin the same moves over and over again. that on u bud! if u cant find the moves list than you have no right to say sht. i mean its like the combat has changed dramatically from hackn slash to hackn slash again? c’mon that should be no suprise there. its always been a nonstop brutall hackn slash action adventure. ware have u been boy. i could beet ninja gaiden2 by just tappn buttons wtf??? ok im a ninja gaiden fan… i miss the little treasure chest and the stupid store and all the other nimpos u could do but for wut they did with the game im satisfied. fkn steel on bone and ryu looks better than ever. ok some environments look a lil bland but not dynasty warriors! c’mon??? the sound is the same for the most part at least bad guys are talkin sht now. the story is a lil short but really fun. i kinda didnt like the kunai climb but got used to it and the co-op is a fkn blast. sooooo many missions to run throo….i love it! plus u can customize your ninja, hell yea! how bout online multi???? its not the greatest and i dont think they planned on it either but its fun and it works. for ninja gaiden has always been about the story anyways. playing the story wus fun. yes there was only a few swords and some times ryu acts like a retard with his arm but it was wut most true ninja gaiden fans wanted. a bad ass ninja fkn sht up at the speed of light. as for the difficulty switch it to hard and its a crazy challenge and now since they got more difficulties along with new weapon dlc for free only for the story. u can get the dlc for multi and co-op via xbox marketplace for like 250 ms points for each weapon or u can buy a whole dlc with more co-op trials and armor for 800 ms points each. the falcon talons are better than ever and the scythe is nuts! sooo u would wana get that. for me i give the game an 8. because the story is a lil short and they pulled the “lets fk them in the ass with dlc once the game launches sht. but at least they did it…fk it!!! all in all… its still ninja fkn gaiden!!!!

    • Daniel Flatt
      May 4, 2012 at 7:51 am

      I have to say it’s extremely hard to take anything you say seriously due to this massive wall of insulting text that is extremely poorly written.

      You have gripes about a review, fine, but at least express them legibly and with an ounce of decency.

      • hariseldon
        May 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

        Totally agree with you Daniel. Although I think he kinda unintentionally raises an interesting point; should a reviewer be invested in a series in order to review it or should they be a complete newcomer to the series? If you are the former then you are familiar with the gameplay developments and story (if applicable) and you can arguably give a much more holistic review.

        But on the other hand, a newcomer is in a unique position to judge the game purely on it’s own merit. Personal example- I had never played the first Mass Effect before playing Mass Effect 2. I thought it was amazing and I didn’t get the criticism about dumbing down of the RPG elements. But I know plenty of people who played ME1 to bits and were up in arms about the changes.

  • synopsis
    June 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Wow…. heard it wasn’t that good, but this bad? You would think a big franchise game like this would get a lot of focus. Maybe will check it out when its sub $10…. or is it THAT bad?

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