Also On: Xbox 360
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Developer: Team Ninja
The Ninja Gaiden franchise has been around for over 25 years. While the series has yet to return to the addictive brilliance it has known on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, Tecmo Koei has found a new following with its hack and slash game play for fans that enjoy the multi combo attacks and over the top story line. Earlier this year, the series brought to life its 3rd game in the 3D storyline, but was welcomed with less than stellar reviews, including from this site. Team Ninja must have heard the bloody cries for their heads as they decided to head back to the planning stages to improve on what the fans had said they had done oh so wrong and to add some more value to the game, because let's face it, buying the same game twice is no fun. The end result (originally released for the Wii U) is easily a better game that was issued not even 6 months ago, but to call the game great…that's not in the cards.
While Ninja Gaiden 3's story remains mainly untouched, it is the changes to the game play that are the highlights here. For starters, the developers have eliminated the jokingly easy aspects such as the Quick Time Events that were able to eliminate all the enemies on screen and combined them into a powerful, though not as potent, attack.
Another notable change is in the Ninpo magic that has resorted back to the way they once were utilized starting with a 3-level ring of fire that burns, burns burns…the rings of fire. Before a giant dragon appeared and not only regenerated your health, but wiped out all enemies on the screen, and much like the QTE, didn't really provide for much of a challenge if two sequences can take out 10 enemies with just a couple button presses.
The biggest change as far as game play components are concerned is Razor's Edge
new progressive system. Gamers now earn Karma for fallen foes and you use those Karma points to upgrade everything from your weapon attacks, to new skills and Ninpo attacks. This provides players with not only something to shoot for, but introduces gamers to a more difficult path through the game as you must now earn and unlock your bad ass skills instead of them just being handed to you. This by far makes the game engaging and much more enjoyable than the first effort.
While these changes are nice, there is no escaping the series' biggest plague, the camera, which remains a mystery why such talented developers can't seem to get this right. Not only is your camera never in the place you need it to be, but even the lock on system is broken and rarely works and could cause you to lose precious health or even your life due to the bad mechanics of this feature. If you have been a fan of the series you will undoubtedly be familiar with this unpolished aspect of the game, so you may not be as bothered with it as some gamers. However, when you've witnessed firsthand on how 3rd person action games should play, with games like God of War and even the new Metal Gear Solid Rising, it makes this flawed camera and control system even more obvious and dated in comparison.
Gamers who may or may not have endured the less than stellar first effort released this year will have additional characters and missions to play with, including Ayane, Momiji and Kasumi. This will provide obviously more game play to enjoy, but what's more, open up more storylines for the player to enjoy. Each new character plays not only differently from Ryu, but each other as well. This, along with added features such as the Ninja test found in the online co-op mode that has you taking on waves of enemies, passing tests, and unlocking even more difficult challenges will keep gamers even more busy than before. Fans of the standard online competitive multiplayer will be happy this also still exists and hasn't changed in this second go round.
Overall, if you are a Ninja Gaiden fanatic, you will be pleased with the corrections and enhancements in Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge. The game is more difficult, plays slightly better, and there is even more content to enjoy, even if you had the unpleasant experience in completing the game once already. For those, on the other hand who may be fans of the genre or the series, but held out due to bad reviews, then this is the version to pick up, especially at $40 which is a nice markdown indeed. All in all this is a Ninja Gaiden fan's redemption of sort, but for those looking for something new and exhilarating, you may want to pass altogether as this Ninja is starting to show his age, and a bit of a limp.