Ninja Gaiden 3 - The Verdict

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And if all you want is a thrill ride, then Ninja Gaiden 3

does have its moments. Boss battles against a massive spider-tank, a flouncing,

mask-wielding weirdo, an attack chopper and a massive cyber-dinosaur are

well-staged and enjoyable, and it’s possible to forgive an over-reliance on

quick-time-events when the effects are so grisly or impressive on the screen. The

graphics have their bad points, with many characters suffering from a dated,

plastic look, but the rich scenery and scale of the spectacle more than make

up. As much as hardcore Ninja Gaiden fans don’t want to hear it, Ninja Gaiden 3

can be an entertaining game – as long as you’re prepared to enjoy it in small

doses.

Ninja Gaiden 3

You see, the problem is that there’s not an awful lot of

variety here. The lack of alternative weapons doesn’t help, and nor does the

fact that Ryu’s special attack count has been reduced down to two: one big

dragon attack that clears the area and heals, and one that sees you stringing

together some high-damage attacks for a limited time. There aren’t enough

different types of enemies requiring different types of strategy, and when more

difficult foes do turn up, like the creepy robed sorcerers and rampaging

mutants that turn up mid-way through the game, they’re more annoying than

actually challenging.

Ninja Gaiden 3

In the end, Ninja Gaiden 3 is a bit of a one-trick pony, and

the only sure way it knows to make things harder is to overwhelm you with

masses of enemies, some bearing ranged weapons, or up the toughness of those

enemies to give them more chance of wearing you down. The combat system is an

issue, but what really holds Ninja Gaiden 3 back is that, after God of War and

Bayonetta, it’s simply not inventive enough. Team Ninja should really have done

something about the vocal samples during combat, too. Once you’ve heard “Get

ready for the main course”, “Goddamn that Ninja” and other variations a few

thousand times, it really does begin to grate on your nerves.

The storyline, meanwhile, is the worst of any Ninja Gaiden

yet – a challenge when that of the second game was so incoherent that you ended

up just trying to ignore the plot. It’s obviously meant to explore the dark

side of the Ninja lifestyle and what it means to be the kind of guy who kills

20 people before breakfast, but it’s horrifically clumsy and unengaging, with numerous

dopey twists and cast members like a little, wordless waif that you’ll struggle

to care anything about.

Ninja Gaiden 3

If you like the game, you might get a little extra life out

of it through a serviceable co-op challenge mode, which balances some camera

issues with some gruesome ninja laughs. PS3 owners also get Move support,

though as it’s hard to setup and virtually unworkable in practice, it’s

questionable whether this is actually a benefit at all.

Verdict

In reaching out for a wider audience, Ninja Gaiden 3 does its level best to

alienate the series’s existing fans while proving too repetitive and

frustrating to acquire many new ones.  It

is more accessible and there’s enough hack-and-slash spectacle to entertain in

bite-sized chunks, but the latest Ninja Gaiden is a long way off the best.

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