Publisher: Tecmo Koei America Corp.
Developer: Team Ninja
Release Date: 3/20/2012
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Ninja Gaiden for Xbox was considered one of the hardest games in recent gaming history, at least one of the hardest of the 6th generation. I had Ninja Gaiden Black and couldn’t get past the third level it was so hard. Ninja Gaiden 3 dumbs down the difficulty and concentrates on cinematic combat like God of War, but doesn’t pull it off as well. There is no reward for combat, the levels are highly linear, and the same patterns repeat often. This is a fun weekend rental but nothing more.
Usually, in a Ninja Gaiden game, you die several times in the first level. The game starts out pretty cinematic with Ryu jumping from heights and gliding down. The combat consists of light and heavy attacks and dodges. The problem here is that the same moves and animations repeat constantly and just get tiresome less than halfway through. There are no upgrades, no new weapons, no new Ninpos, nothing. Just hack away until everything dies. The game is still really tough with dozens of enemies being thrown at you at once, but you restore full health after every battle this time and there are no health potions, in fact, you can’t even shop at Muramasa’s anymore. Why they took such core elements away is beyond me. The only new gameplay element is using Ryu’s infected and cursed arm to instantly kill enemies. When you kill enough you can hold down Y and do this, and his dragon fire Ninpo will clear the entire screen. Seems like cheating when it comes to Ninja Gaiden and is hard to get used to.
A lot of people claimed NG3 wasn’t a true sequel and dumbed it down for today’s audience that is used to being handheld through games. This may be true, but I think the QTEs are what got people so mad. You use them for everything like in combat and even climbing walls and wires. This is fun at first but grows tiresome quickly because they repeat so often. The same helicopter fight, spider bot, and other enemies repeat quite often and it gets boring and uninteresting. The only thing breaking up the monotony is the unique boss fights which are a lot of fun and challenging. I wish there was more to this game but that is about it. The locales are familiar at least with jungles, city landscapes, military bases, and various others. They change quickly so at least that doesn’t get boring.
The story is actually quite interesting despite how much people complained about it. Ryu gets a curse on his arm and it is rotting his arm away. The Lords of Alchemy are working on some plot to take over the world and eventually you find out how towards the end. The characters are at least likable in that quick satisfaction way. You won’t remember them long after you finish the game, but they are entertaining enough to keep you in the story, and at least the voice acting is decent.
The graphics are really good for the Xbox 360, but you will notice the gore factor is severely toned down. No longer do enemies slice in half and heads fly off. A bit disappointing, but there are still buckets of blood. Overall, NG3 is a disappointment in a long-term way. You won’t be trying to master speed runs in this game, but there’s enough challenge here for a bargain bin purchase or weekend rental. The combat is so dumbed down that becomes repetitive and nearly boring, but at least the fear of death is always near, but there are frequent checkpoints to counter this. There are no upgrades or anything like that, but at least Team Ninja saw that most people never finished previous games and tried to make it easier, this isn’t the way.