Mar 26 2012

Review: Ninja Gaiden 3

Ninja Gaiden 3 is the first game in the Ninja Gaiden series to be made since departure of franchise director Tomonobu Itagaki. Does Ninja Gaiden 3 live up to its predecessors, or does it fail to deliver?

Review: Ninja Gaiden 3
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (reviewed)
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Tecomo-Koei
Released: March 20th, 2012
MSRP: $59.99 USD

Now to start things off I would like to say I have been a large fan of the more recent Ninja Gaiden games so it was very difficult to not draw comparisons between Ninja Gaiden 3 and its predecessors. The first major change I noticed was how much easier combat was. The enemies in the game were much less threatening than what I was used to, which meant I was able to get through most encounters by mashing the attack buttons until everything was dead. To compensate for this the amount of enemies you face in most encounters was increased which really only served to make the combat sequences longer rather than make them more challenging.

Most of the combat systems have also been streamlined. Ryu now only carry’s a sword, shurikens and a bow. Also gone is the Ryu’s ability to suck in essence to perform devastating attacks, instead you get the grip of murder “curse” which for the sake of gameplay is really more of a blessing.  The curse makes it so that when you are fighting enemies you will gain momentum which will eventually have you bouncing from foe to foe slicing them down with one fell swoop each; however, if you miss a hit your momentum leaves and you will find yourself performing regular combos once more. The grip of murder also charges up while you kill enemies which will eventually cause your arm to glow red. This allows you to unleash a massive attach that can take out multiple enemies at once. Every once in a while the “negative” effect of the curse will kick in which only really amounts to Ryu walking around slowly while enemies stare at him like wide eyes puppies leaving themselves open to be cut down easily.

The ninja magic system has also been greatly altered from previous games. No longer do you gain multiple spells and charges of magic. Instead Ryu has access to only one spell throughout the whole game. The magic works very similar to the “grip of murder” mechanic where you now gain magic charge while you fight. Once the meter is fully charged you can use your magic to clear the room of enemies as well as recover your health. Your Magic charge, much like your grip of murder charge cannot be saved up for later use so I found myself using them as often as I could. This had most battles playing out the same way with me gaining momentum to charge the cursed arm, unleashing the cursed arm, and then unleashing my ninja magic to finish off any stragglers. Some enemies did make things more difficult for me near the end of the game but overall most of the battles I went through followed this formula.

The bosses are just as over the top as I was used to in the series but they were also much less challenging. I remember spending hours trying to defeat some of the bosses in Ninja Gaiden 1 but In Ninja Gaiden 3 I was able to defeat most of them on my first try. What most of the boss fights come down to is the now standard action game formula of beat up on the boss until you initiate a QTE, do said QTE and then rinse and repeat until the boss is dead. Series veterans who loved the challenge previous games gave them will probably be very disappointed by this but, I thought it helped improve the pacing of the game to not be stuck on a boss for a few hours like I was used to in previous games.

It’s also worth noting that QTE’s seem to have been dropped in everywhere in this game. So much so that I almost thought  I was tricked by a sinister store employee into buying Ninja Blade as some cruel joke. That being said, while the QTE’s are mostly pointless I do like how they are pretty forgiving. There were times where I clearly pressed the wrong button during a QTE but the game did not punish me for it. It doesn’t mean I like the QTE’s but I figure if your going to stuff them down my throat at least the game did not expect me to be 100 % accurate at all times with them.

The game is also much more linear than I would have expected. No longer is there any reason to go off the path set up for you due to the removal the ability to find extra weapons, ninja magic and stat boosting items. Instead all that really drives the single player experience is the Story which is a standard plot you would expect from a Ninja Gaiden game. The gist of it all is that Ryu is hired by the Japanese government to help out with a hostage situation in England and gets cursed. This leads him into journey across the world to pursue and stop the maniacal plans of the crazed organization who cursed him. There are some moments in the game where you get the impression that you have the choice of sparing certain characters lives ;however, all this amounts to is you staring at them until you hit the attack button to stab them to death. The campaign does start to get stale near the tail end of the story but this is more due to the lack of combat variety rather than and problems with the story itself.

The final addition to the game is its multiplayer mode which is split up into two categories. Co-op mission’s and Team death match. The co-op mission mode has players work together to fight hoards of enemies while trying to complete specific tasks like finishing off an enemy with shurikens or performing specific combos. This mode is easily the most forgettable of the two as I found the combat to be way too easy and stale by the time I got through the games campaign. Death match is your basic 4 on 4 team game where the team who gets the most kills wins. The mode is allot more fun then I thought it would be once I was leveled up enough to actually fight back but new players will most likely find themselves being murdered on sight until they can level up enough to compete. The camera can also make it difficult to see what’s going on at times, especially when you find yourself in a match with a bunch of new players who all look like the same grey ninja. I wouldn’t expect the game to be lighting Xbox Live or PSN on fire but it’s a decent little distraction to mess around with.

On its own merits Ninja Gaiden 3 is decent action game. The games biggest issue is its lack of variety which led to the combat becoming stale near the end of the campaign. Fans of the series will most likely be disappointed ;however, newcomers to the series should find it a fairly decent way to waste a weekend.

Score: 6/10

About the author


Jason has had a passion for video games ever since he first laid his hands on an NES. He is an enthusiast of gaming and a major tech nerd.


1 ping

  1. Edgard

    great review! it was probably one of the more fair reviews i have read in a while

  2. Anete

    Good review, to be honest i actully enjoyed this game for what it was. I dont know y everyone hated it soo much. It wasnt that bad.

  1. Tecmo Koei announces Yaiba Ninja Gaiden Z » That's Yo Garbage

    […] am a pretty big fan of the Ninja Gaiden even if I was slightly disappointed with the last entry in the series, so I look forward to trying out Inafune’s take on the […]

Comments have been disabled.