The Dragon Ninja, Ryu Hayabusa is approached by two agents working for an organization by the name of JSDF (Japan's Self-Defense Force). Ryu believes they are there for his help, yet it turns out they're there to help him. An unknown organization displays footage of Ryu battling the Black Spider Clan, and they demand he shows his presence at a hostage situation in London. Who are these people and why are they after Ryu? -summary
It's pretty much universal that Ninja Gaiden 3 is among the biggest disappointments of 2012. I remember picking the game up before I read reviews on it by IGN as well as individuals whom I trust, and the panning of this title left me immediately disappointed yet curious at the same time. I wasted little time to see what exactly the problems really were. For the most part, I'm in agreement with the naysayers on the new direction the series went. Ninja Gaiden 3 feels familiar yet so damn different it left me pondering was this actually developed by Team Ninja, whom were also responsible for Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Gaiden: Black, and the Sigma series. Although I will confirm that many of the fans were on point with the game's issues, I will also admit that I believe some people are lying through their teeth, and they chose to rip the game after a few minutes of play or they didn't play it at all.
Ninja Gaiden has a very loyal fan base, and this sequel seems to ignore what the fans wanted; which is deep game play, some type of exploration, and the high difficulty synonymous with the series. It's said by Tecmo that the difficulty was dumbed down in order to appeal to a wider audience, thus, making the game easier. I'm kind of lost here, because there are many moments in the game were someone new to the franchise will be eaten alive. Personally, I really don't understand what was Tecmo's aim here, because the game fails to deliver to both parties in various ways.
Ninja Gaiden 3 is a single player action/adventure game, that follows Ryu Hayabusa across 8 days (with various stages in between) as he wages a war against an organization named LOA, Lords of Alchemy. The organization appears to be lead by a man in a red robe with a mask and amazing sword skills. Their motives are not made clear until somewhere near the end of the game. I'll mention first that Ninja Gaiden 3 is more character driven than the previous games. This game chooses to explore Ryu's human side and give him some type of personality, as oppose to him being the near silent assassin he had been in the previous games. Many people have bashed the game for its sheer attempt at telling a story. I see nothing wrong with this, since I would like to have a reason to finally care about where the main character is going, if anything, I can say the story stumbled quite a bit in its execution.
Outside of the games direction at developing Ryu's emotions; I can say there isn't too much here I find interesting . Ryu begins with quite a few moves at the ready. His defensive abilities are still competent, as he now possesses a slide move to quickly escape damage, along with his ability to block and counter most attacks. He begins with his basic sword and shurikens, along with his arsenal of sword attacks he already learned in the previous games. In other words, you can perform the devastating, very near instant kill Izuna Drop from scratch, as well as the leaping sword attack called the Flying Swallow, except this time it acts as a grab that impales enemies from behind, which is also pretty much an instant kill. He also uses his magic attack called the Ninpo that kills all enemies on the screen. The problem here, Ryu does not gain any new melee weapons, no other projectiles besides his shuriken or different arrows, or any additional magic attacks. Therefore, you spend the entire game forced to spam the same attacks and weapons, which gets very old by the second day. His sword does receive some type of upgrade, but for the most part the combat mechanics go through no type of change.
You will literally spend the next 6-8 hours killing the same enemies over and over with very little variation. And if that isn't bad enough, you can seriously mash the light attack button and get through most conflicts. The previous games were indeed heavily action oriented, but there was far more depth in the battle mechanics. The additional weapons provided you with not only different yet necessary strategies for certain enemies, but also dozens, some will say even hundreds of different combos to master which definitely elevated the game into something more than a slash-fest. There was variety, plenty of reasons for jubilation when you acquired that next weapon and upgrade, plus the suspense on what your weapon could possibly do and the pay off when you finally pulled it off. For example, in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, I forgot about the Izuna Drop in favor of the various combos and vicious attacks found with the plethora of different weapons. While in this game the Izuna Drop is the coolest move, and it has been in Ryu's arsenal since the very first game for the X-Box. There is just no excuse for that.
Ryu still has the ability to destroy seriously wounded enemies with the Obliteration attack, which is a series of slashes, kicks, and impalement's to kill enemies in style. He has a new technique called Steel to Bone, which is a camera close up of Ryu shoving his blade deep into enemies for a blood splattering finish. This is a very interesting idea, and there was plenty of room to expand upon this. Unfortunately, the technique feels too random. It's said that once you pull it off, it's possible to work it through multiple enemies. I'm unsure about this; I was able to get it to somewhat work in that way, and some times it would register after the third strike against an enemy, but again, it felt more random than something that can be executed at will. There's no real way to work this into a planned strategy.
The game is very linear as there is no way to stray from the pre-determined path. No sense of exploration nor chance of getting lost, because the game will always point you in the right direction. It will tell you when to slide and wall flip-climb when necessary; with this said, I really do understand how long time fans would feel betrayed by Tecmo. There is very little here to encourage fans into a second play through when they finish this game.
Now we have the difficulty. It's true that the game is not as difficult as earlier entries. But saying the game has no challenge which is actually something IGN said, well, I can't believe they would actually have their reviewers tell lies like this. And another thing, people whom I personally know that claimed this game to be very easy had a strategy guide in their house. Which leaves me to wonder just how easy this game really is. For one thing, there are no health items at all and there are only two ways to regain health. The first, Ryu's health regenerates after winning a conflict with a horde of enemies in each segment. Second is to use Ninpo when the magic gauge is full after plenty of fighting. However, the game encourages you not to use Ninpo, because whatever Ninpo you have remaining after the conflict ends extends your health bar. Ninpo can not be used at all during boss battles either which can be pretty unforgiving. The only assistance during some boss battles, is that if you happen to die fighting the boss second form, then you will be restarted at that point. Believe me, it's not that easy, especially on your first play through.
Some of the boss battles are very tough; for example, one fight takes place on a giant gunship. Ryu must take out the missile turrets with his arrow, and from there, he dives onto the gunship itself to destroy the machine gun turrets and that's only the first phase. The second is to dodge bombs it drops, as well as battle airborne grunts who can roast you with their jetpacks, and other missiles coming your way non stop. There are other battles like this too, where the bosses can take a chunk of health with one attack, and keep in mind that you cannot heal. Since I don't use gaming guides, yeah, I did die in some of these battles, so I can imagine what a newbie is going to experience. Further more on why I do not understand how this game was meant for newbies; there's one boss battle where Ryu must fight his clone. This fight can be very tough, and under the right circumstances the clone will have Ryu at death's door with a single attack, again, you cannot heal at all during this nor use magic to save yourself.
Another complete lie is that the grunts sit there waiting for you to kill them and they present no challenge at all. This is one part of the game play from previous titles that did carry over. If you stay in place and rely on guarding, the grunts will shoot from a distance, melee fighters will maul, grab, stab, and kill you. You will be dead in no time, and average, newbies, casual gamers, will be getting beat up if they don't learn how to evade or counter attack. And the boss battles do require some type of strategy and caution, if you run with a full head of steam in these fights, you are never going to win.
The game uses Quick Time Events (QTE's) in many areas. The timing isn't God of War or Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters strict at all. In fact, outside of some of these moments looking cool, they really add nothing and hamper the pacing. There are cheap deaths to walk into through trial and error moments, such as being hit by a big block of ice when scaling the side of a mountain, or just plain being surprised by something. They don't exactly make the game harder, only a little frustrating since they seem like a cheap add-on for game play depth, but again, to say there is absolutely no challenge here whatsoever is complete bullsh*t.
In regards to the weak story execution; at the end of the first chapter when Ryu battles the man in the mask, who is recognized as Regent of the Mask, The Dragon Sword is broken and bonded inside of Ryu's right arm by a spell called The Grip of Murder. This is suppose to play a role in Ryu's development, forcing him to look at the evil he commits in killing people. The story feels inconsistent but that's not the main problem here. During certain points of the game, Ryu's arm will cause him unbearable pain, this forces him to move slowly. This adds nothing worthwhile to the game play and it also creates a plot hole in the story. Ryu will move around what seems to be aimless, and he's only able to swing wild slashes, which for some strange reason kills all cannon fodder with a single slash. Now get this, these are the same enemies you been slashing at least ten times. And now they die with only one slash? If the Grip of Murder some how increases Ryu's strength then it's never made clear at any point. It's a wasted story element that could be snatched right out, and the story really wouldn't change at all. To add further injury to Ninja Gaiden 3's story ailments, the Fiends, whom are the monsters Ryu fought in the previous games are added to the game for no reason. To include, most of the "plot twist" are so predictable it's a damn shame.
In the end of the day, Ninja Gaiden 3 suffers from extremely redundant game play. It gets boring very fast when the only melee weapon at his disposal is the sword. It makes the moves list seem a whole lot smaller. Although the QTE's can be cool to watch at first, well, that's the thing, at first. It gets very old watching Ryu skydive and impale someone again and again. Another thing, even though there are some cool moments, such as Ryu running for his life and dodging falling trees to escape a bombing and keep from being instantly killed. There are just too many trial and error moments like these.
The lack of variety in the enemies is truly a blow. I got sick and tired of the same grunts spewing the same dialog over and over, the only cool additions were The Alchemist, they're actually kind of scary to fight as they create brick shields out of thin air to block you, plus hurl them in your direction. Steel to Bone, potential is as far as you can go when discussing this new feature. The boss battles are the only somewhat appealing element to the game play.
After recently replaying the first two games, it was easy to identify what is so weird about this game's controls. Ryu doesn't exactly feel sluggish, yet he doesn't feel as graceful as in the previous games. The main problem is in the attack, there were numerous occasions in the heat of combat where I tried to continue another combo string using the same button prompts to start a combo. Some times he just wouldn't respond fast enough, or he would toss a single slash. This can be a problem when you're being ganged up on, and I noticed that when I triggered the targeting for the arrows while jumping, it just didn't respond on all occasions. This can be an even bigger problem when the enemies are firing rockets non stop. At least it performs well during the QTE's, but there's no reason to stress these moments since they're so simple. And as usual, the control uses all of the buttons on the pad.
I have always been impressed with the Ninja Gaiden series visually, and I think this game looks very good. The character designs do have their highlights, with one boss battle being against a giant mecha-like Transformer, that would fit right in with the Metal Gear series. It looks really cool with an over-size gun arm, and giant wheels to it. Ryu looks cool as usual, and it was nice to see some different enemy designs. The backgrounds aren't exactly bad, it's just that some of the stages such as the jungle and the desert ruins weren't the least bit appealing to me. The areas did fit with the personality of the enemy, as some of them even jump out of the dirt to slash you. There's one area where the enemies are aiming their laser-scopes inside of fog to shoot Ryu, and the lack of visibility is well animated. The animation during the carnage is well animated also, but it's a step back from Ninja Gaiden II and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. Ryu no longer slashes pieces off his enemies, instead they just bleed like crazy. The sword choreography isn't as detailed with high-low, and even front flipping strikes. The action looks good, but you seen better if you played the first two games and upgrades.
The techno-rock score surprisingly fits better in this game. I think it's mainly because Ninja Gaiden 3 isn't as dark, nor does it dip as deep into the mysticism and monsters as the previous games. The music maintains an upbeat tempo, but not well enough to mask how one dimensional the game is. Lollipop Chainsaw comes to mind here, as that game's soundtrack was able to help you somewhat forget there wasn't much to do there. I think more focus on the soundtrack would have benefited this game to enhance my enjoyment. I really didn't care for the voice acting, it all felt pretty stale and normal, there was nothing truly over the top like in the 2nd game. Sound effects were on point as usual with some cool bombing effects. Honestly though, nothing really stood out for me here.
The game does have some nice extras in the form of Shadows of the World. It's a ninja trial mission mode similar to Ninja Gaiden Black and Sigma 2. Ryu will be forced to dispatch a large amount of enemies, but he will be at his normal level from the original Ninja Gaiden. You will have to complete many missions to level him up, and along the way he will be able to perform moves. I highly recommend building up your character, because you will need him at a high level of strength for the death matches. Think of Transformers: War For Cybertron, where newbies would be slaughtered really quick only because they're not at a high level. You can go it solo or co-op here, plus the game features enemies from previous games. I haven't noticed any type of lag and when I played this a few weeks ago I was able to get a match. Personally, I prefer main campaigns and this mode just doesn't make up for the lacking game play in the story mode, and the multi-player just feels almost like an after thought, it's not a reason to seek this game out.
For a Ninja Gaiden game, I think this game is way below average because it lacks the depth of the previous games. There is DLC for it, in fact, quite a bit at this time and you don't have to pay for all of it. But I'm not a fan of this. DLC should be necessary to make the gaming experience better for an already great game, not add in things that should have already been there. It's frustrating to even think that the first two games, one for the original X-Box featured so many weapons to fight with, and then you come into a newer system where it just isn't added. These are the type of shady tactics gamers should be saying no to. I haven't bothered with all the DLC and I have no desire to. As an action game, it would be a mismatch to compare this to lets say, God of War. The game play is way too repetitive. I also do not think this game is going to rope in a bigger audience, quite the opposite, it's going to repel a lot of them because it has moments of being pretty hard. I can only recommend this game to people familiar with the franchise and for a very low price. I was mad for spending 60 dollars on this.
-Has moments of being kind of fun, visuals,
-Overly repetitive and lacking game play, multi-player is no reason to get this
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