Ninja Gaiden 3 is a game you may not heard of recently mainly because almost no advertising has been done for the game. After playing it I see why. Team Ninja is not afraid of the limelight so it was rather odd that NG3 was not hyped like NG2 was. I found out about the recent action adventure game about a week before it was released and I got a bit excited. Why? Because I really enjoyed NG Sigma and NG2. Why wouldn’t a fan of the series be excited about a new title. Needless to say, I was expecting the great gameplay from NG2 to return. Well, I will leave you in suspense and get on with the review.
First off, the story is above average and the direction was really good. Ninja Gaiden 3 revolves around Ryu’s human side rather than the ruthless killer that he is known for. He has always been detached from those close and his enemies. The game opens up with Ryu killing someone and taking off his mask. I found this to be intriguing. It got me hooked. I want to know why he wanted to have his recent kill see his face. The story also expands upon the story of the Dragon Sword’s origin of killing the Archfiend. Essentially, this is an origin story without it being a prequel. Which is fucking awesome. You don’t get storytelling like that these days. The story has its moments but is easily the best part about NG3.
The characters are some interesting ones. My favorite is a little girl named Canna. She represents the innocence that Ryu has inside of him. He fights to protect and the moments with Canna and Ryu are touching and filled with emotion. Despite Ryu’s imposing appearance she accepts him and adopts him as a father figure. I have not seen character interaction like this in a long time and it was cool to see it in a Ninja Gaiden game. This is where the positivity ends.
When you hear Ninja Gaiden you think Ryu Hayabusa cutting down enemies with elaborate combos and weaponry. You also think of a game that is so difficult you want to beat the game just to prove it wrong. Sadly, everything that makes a Ninja Gaiden game what it should be is not present in the latest installment. Here is the breakdown.
I will quite G4TV’s X-Play on this one (I know a real shocker but they actually explain the game well with this statement), “Ninja Gaiden 3 feels more like a demo stretched out to be a full length title.” This is exactly what Ninja Gaiden 3 feels like. The lack of weaponry and the unfinished combat system makes you want more from the game. You gain a sword and a bow to use as a weapon. That is it. Nothing fancy, just weapons that are hideously standard. Of course a ninja would be nothing without a trusty katana by their side, but something that separated the ninjas from the samurai (yes I am getting historical on your ass) was their ability to adapt and use unconventional odd weapons at their disposal. The previous Ninja Gaiden titles had those cool strange weapons to give variety to the combat so it never felt like a fucking chore.
Now the combat has been so simplified it makes the game almost unplayable. You spam the light attack and rarely ever use the heavy attack. Mainly because you can’t combo with the heavy attack in the first place. The auto target system mixed with the odd camera make this combat system to be one of the worst I have played. You seamlessly jump around from enemy to enemy not doing much damage so everyone is still alive. Because you cannot focus on enemies easily fights take much longer than they should. I remember I was fighting a boss where I had to focus on what looked like zits. The fight took way too long because of the auto lock on system. I would maybe hit the zit once then switch to an enemy. This resulted in me getting pulverized by the peons.
The bow has an auto lock system as well. As soon as you bring it up it locks onto the nearest enemy. While this is supposed to be helpful in many cases it does not help at all. Especially when you are first learning how to use the damn thing. It just does not feel right when using it. Many other aspects like wall runs, wall jumps, kunai climbs and traversing various kinds of ropes are left in the game but at a cost. There is always a command prompt on what to do. While I am ok with a command prompt for when you first learn the damn move I am not ok with it being shoved in my face over and over again.
The last thing I wish to talk about gameplay wise is the difficulty level. While you can choose what difficulty to play on for Ninja Gaiden it didn’t matter. It has always been a hard franchise and Ninja Gaiden 3 is not hard at all. The only times I have died in the game are because of the bad controls or combat system. I have yet to find something in this game that makes it a Ninja Gaiden title. The only resemblance between the other games and NG3 is the fact Ryu is in it.
I would not buy this game at full price. This is very much a $20 game. The changes are not acceptable and I wish this game was not titled, Ninja Gaiden 3. The simplified changes may be due to the fact that the main director for the franchise moved the power to the director of the Sigma titles. But the Sigma titles were great standalone games with extra content. In that regard there is not much to direct when 95% of the game is laid out for you. As much as I hate to say it, Ninja Gaiden 3 gets a lackluster 4/10. The only selling point is the interesting storyline.