Ninja Gaiden 3 Official Review
by Lord Nero
Banner by Ramon
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
North American Release Date: March 20, 2012
European Release Date: March 20, 2012
Trophies: Yes; X 1 | X 2| X 6 | X 44
Trophy Guide: Ninja Gaiden 3 Trophy Guide by Nero Radec
Ninja Gaiden 3 is the latest installment in the series, having been developed by Team Ninja and published by Tecmo Koei. You still play as Ryu Hyabusa, the master ninja, on the next part of his story. There are definitely some improvements and surely quite a few changes that will define how Ninja Gaiden 3 plays. The team took out numerous elements of Ninja Gaiden that shaped how previous games worked and catered a play mode for the casual gamer, however, don't let this fool you from thinking Ninja Gaiden 3 is completely destroyed and a bad game. It's a very different experience this time around for the fans of the series and it's hard to tell if this change is for better or worse.
I shall start by going over the numerous complains and problems with Ninja Gaiden 3. While Team Ninja ultimately tried something different and to go for a simpler version of the series to cater to some of the more casual players in addition to the hardcore fans, they shot themselves in the foot. This game in the series takes a few steps back from the previous games in numerous ways. One major thing they changed up is the combat scheme. They almost changed Ninja Gaiden 3 into a button masher, where you almost don't need to really know your enemies or use tactics other than tapping a few times and throwing in for a heavy slash every so often. This makes it a fun experience for the more casual hack and slash gamer, but is a disgrace compared to the series. It's not bad, but one change that is definitely noticed. Albeit this change really only affects the first couple difficulties, you will still need to be careful and use some strategy as fans will be accustomed to on the Hard and Master Ninja difficulties.
Ryu cutting down another enemy ninja. As you see, he's not splitting in half.. WHY IS THIS TEAM NINJA!???
Also a few more changes have taken place in the series for Ninja Gaiden. The save system has been changed to incorporate a falcon instead of the usual Dragon Statue at which you would normally save. A small difference to be noted. There is a lack of additional weapons and customization during the offline story mode of Ninja Gaiden 3 as well. You will find that you don't acquire many new weapons, other than replacing your sword at a couple points through the game, you will acquire a bow to use, and you will have your sword and bow enhanced during a segment. You will not have access to the scythe, claws, or any other weapons during the current version of the game, although they are stated to be fixed in an upcoming version of the game released on the Wii.
Even the healing system has been changed and the kii gauge. Healing is done instantly at the end of combat or based on using your ninpo attacks. Also, saving at the falcon will recover all your health at once. There is no carrying around any items to use, just Ryu and his sword against your enemies. Another change you will notice is the Ki meter underneath your health bar that fills up as you kill and slice down enemies, being able to unleash your ninpo when it is filled. You won't acquire any new ninpos either, but have only the Dragon fire ninpo that gathers all enemies up and instantly defeats them, granting you a bit of health based on the enemies killed. Finally, another very noticeable difference for the game is the lack of dismemberment the series is known for. This doesn't stop the amount of gore, blood, and violence already within the game, but fans will miss this aspect of Ninja Gaiden, even if it doesn't change the gameplay at all.
Despite the game being dumbed down for the casual fan and turned into a button mashing hack and slash action game, Ninja Gaiden 3 still offers a lot of fun for gamers, including fans of the series as myself. Many reviews discredit this game as taking away that feeling of you being a badass ninja, but I beg to differ. If anything this title will help you feel even more empowered as you cut down your enemies and battle through many numerous villains you will remember from the previous titles in the series and experiences. The game will feature a number of different ninja types to face, including fiends and mutations as well. The game has a realistic tone set to it compared to other games, but those elements are still present in this title. The boss fights are just as exciting as ever and will put you on the edge of your seat as you combat these tough opponents on the harder difficulties.
The Hero mode is made only for the motion control users and for the casual player that loves Ninja Gaiden and wants the experience without the difficulty. I feel Team Ninja did a good job on this game, but they slapped many of their diehard fans in the face and I can agree to the complaints. Although it shouldn't have changed nearly as much as it did and simply added in this one mode and playstyle, the game plays very well and the combat feels very smooth and fluid as you strike. It plays as well as the other action games out there now, if not better and with more memorable characters, such as Ryu Hayabusa.
The biggest complain overall with the gameplay was Team Ninja's addition of so many QTEs, Quick Time Events, within the game. These occur almost constantly throughout the combat as you perform what is known as steel on bone attacks, where time slows down and it shows Ryu up close cutting through an enemy. These QTEs in combat provide an instant kill and demonstration of gore, but are annoying to view pop up constantly. Also, as you play through the story, you will be prompted at every other turn, even in the opening moments of the game, to perform QTEs. Many bosses are finished off with some form of prompt of either or . The game provides a great deal of action in terms of .. oh wait, another QTE to get through this cutscene.. Never mind. It's my biggest and only real complaint in Ninja Gaiden 3, aside from the lack of weaponry and customization I am accustomed to.
During the story of Ninja Gaiden 3, you will again resume playing as Ryu Hayabusa during his missions. He's recruited during the game by the Japanese and American governments to check out a terrorist faction, known as LoA or the League of Alchemists. You will play through numerous missions and gain attachments to multiple characters as you play the story of Ninja Gaiden 3. It's a very straightforward experience for the most part, having you go from point a to point b and kill such and such enemies to further the game. There are quite a few surprises and the team has redefined how you will view Ryu for the future.
Ryu Hayabusa against the game's main face bad guy, known as the Reagent of the Mask.
The overall story can be beaten in under 7 hours, consisting of 8 days to complete in addition to a brief tutorial that opens into Day One at the beginning of the game. Each day will take you roughly 40 minutes to an hour to complete, all depending on your playstyle and if you rush through it or not. There are no collectibles or hidden items to find through the story either, lessening the value of that. You will experience the story and thus that is the end there.
Ninja Gaiden 3 does have a rather decent story written for the fans. After you are recruited, you become afflicted with a curse that is ultimately and slowly killing Ryu Hayabusa. You are trying to stop the terrorist group and help out your new allies in their quest, but are thwarted from completing this at each turn by the LoA. During the game you will fight through numerous places of memory and will meet several familiar faces. The ending has a decent arc to the story and the overall game will make you want to keep playing to finish this experience.
Ninja Gaiden 3 continues the series incorporating online play into the mix to add in some extra game value. This time the team adds in clan battles, one on one matches, as well as some coop modes to enjoy with your friends and other players. The clan battles are merely team matches consisting of up to 8 players online.
Ninja 1: "But Timmy... I can't feel meh legs!!!" ... Ninja 2 (Timmy): "Sam, YOU DON'T HAVE ANY LEGS!!!!" ... Ninja 1 (Sam): " NOOOOOOOO!!!"
The online play suffers from a few bugs that will hold it back from fully working and a lack of other game modes most games have. The glitches and lag online will hinder the experience for many players, but these are random and won't always afflict everybody. Also, the lack of more options for online play isn't really an issue as this is really a single player experience and it's just extra added value to the series for a bit more fun.
On the technical side of the spectrum, Ninja Gaiden 3 holds it's own for the most part. It's a graphically sound game for it's time with good lighting effects and polish throughout the game. The environments are very detailed and well designed and can play a part in the combat of the game. The overall graphics do look nice, but they don't quite capture the full power of the current gen systems yet. The controls are very responsive and help the combat flow as you play. They aren't perfect, but they react and Ryu moves as you tell him to and the set up allows your combos to flow very smoothly. The sound quality is also very good and well orchestrated during Ninja Gaiden 3.
The game does suffer from a few set backs. One being the developers design to incorporate QTE every five seconds into the combat of the game, as touched on during the Gameplay section of the review. Bringing it up again here as it holds the controls back from being perfect during the game. Also, online play is hindered by some lag and glitches that will occur from time to time that will lessen that experience of the game. It does contain a uniquely designed checkpoint and save system, in which you it checkpoints you every so often and you save in game through the use of a falcon. This is only a problem in case you load another save file as it will overwrite this one checkpoint save and you are only allowed permanent saves at the end of each day completion.
Just showing off some of the blood effects and the lighting. Ryu likes the taste of blood in the morning.
Also to note, there are a few issues that the lesser difficulties won't truly notice and won't play a part until later in the game. On the higher difficulties, you will experience more freezing and game lag due to the amount of enemies on screen. Also, the online suffers from these same issues with framerate problems and freezing. Be careful as you will encounter numerous bugs and glitches throughout the trials, especially the Mentor and Ultimate Ninja trials as reported by numerous players of the game.
Ninja Gaiden 3 has a very straightforward trophy list attached to it. You have a few difficulty trophies you have to acquire, each of which will aggravate a lot of gamers. This is because the trophy lists don't stack so you will want to keep that in mind as you have four playthroughs to complete, although the story isn't that long. All other trophies will be acquired relatively easy, most being obtained through the story.
Also, you have no missable trophies. The major things stopping any player from the platinum is the online play required in addition to the game's difficulty and Ninja Trials you will have to complete. The online trophies consist of one ranking up trophy and playing some team battles and performing specific actions. Diehard fans will quickly tear through this game and have no issues with the platinum.
Ninja Gaiden 3 successfully achieves being a very fun and good hack and slash button mashing ninja title, reminiscent of a game called Ninja Blade by From Software. However, it fails to achieve in many levels what fans wanted in a Ninja Gaiden game and is disappointing when viewed compared to the previous games that have come before it. Despite this short coming, Team Ninja has catered to the casual gamers as well as still having a fun and challenging Ninja Gaiden game for the diehards that will touch it. Good controls and a decent storyline save Ninja Gaiden and will make for a fun experience for a lot of players. Decent graphics, good lighting and environments, and smooth controls are some of the highlights of the game. Ninja Gaiden doesn't fully deliver in the multiplayer department, being merely average and hindered by several bugs and freezing issues to players. Also the new changes and lack of variety in what normally is to be expected from a Ninja Gaiden game and the constant ambush of QTE as you progress, hold the series back from going beyond their previous works.
Ninja Gaiden 3 makes for a fun button mashing hack and slash game on the easier difficulties, while remaining true to form on the harder ones. Smooth and fun combat, though a bit repetitive at times. Lack of variety and the elements that have been removed hold the game back from being a step further than its predecessors.
Good written work, furthers Ryu's story and adds a bit more to the human element of him. Short game, but multiple playthroughs with new enemies and a more challenging gameplay add a bit of replay value. Fun boss fights and numerous cameos to the previous games.
A mediocre experience with a lack of variety aside from coop challenges and team death battles. You do have some customization which is neat and fun and a lot to unlock through the online mode, however nothing will affect your singleplayer experience.
Ninja Gaiden has decent graphics, good lighting effects, well designed environments, and a good orchestrated soundtrack. However, it falls victim to being an incomplete game with some bugs and freezing issues online as well as some specific difficulties with the framerate due to the number of enemies. A patch could definitely help increase some output in this department.