The lights are on
Ninja Gaiden. The name of the game used to strike fear into the heart of most unseasoned gamers, yet it was the staple of the action genre because of its fast, stylish gameplay. Dismembering your enemies with surgical precision and moving onto the next battle with your health bar intact invoked a sense of accomplishment that I have not found in any other game. With Team Ninja’s latest installment, they have rejected what made this franchise such a great success. By trying to appeal to a wider audience they have shunned their fans and created a mindless game that most people will not enjoy.
Be prepared to fight this guy repeatedly.
Ninja Gaiden has never been well known for its story elements. The first two games made no sense and were just an excuse to fight enemies in entertaining locations. Not much has changed. Ninja Gaiden 3 has you trying to stop a terrorist group from destroying the world in seven days. During the game, Team Ninja tries to make Ryu Hayabusa a deeper character with a dark study of his murderous life and they fail in almost every aspect.
Ryu’s arm becomes infected with an ancient curse because of all the lives he has taken and it causes him to ponder his violent ways. Allies try to reassure Ryu he is not a murderer, yet during my time with the game he cut down over two thousand people, some of which were unarmed and begging for their life. That sounds like a murderer to me and it completely contradicts that thread of the story. The rest of the story is so convoluted and features so many confusing betrayals that it makes me wonder if the writers started to throw them in for fun. The story could be forgiven if the game featured the addicting gameplay and tight controls of its predecessors, but it does not.
The controls now feel sluggish. For an unexplainable reason, there are times when Ryu does not respond to the button input. The precision of the previous titles is gone because of this fault, but in all truthfulness this game is not as demanding. It features modes such as Hero, normal, and hard. Hero mode could be beaten by a blind man. This is not a joke. When Ryu’s health drops low enough he becomes impossible to kill. During a session I set down my controller to see what might happen, and after taking a small beating Ryu began to dodge every attack sent at him without any input. Normal mode is barely a level above this and can be bested by repeatedly smashing the x button. Hard mode is where things become tricky. Instead of the enemies being harder to kill, as the name might suggest, the game compensates by throwing a ridiculous amount of people at you which brings to light the poor level design of the game.
During the entirety of the game I ran on a straightforward path that eventually led into an arena type area where I would fight hordes of enemies. After I had hacked my way through the enemies, my path opened up and it led me to the next arena type area. The areas are not exciting and the camera problem that has plagued all of the previous games rears its ugly head again. The camera will zoom in on the action when you perform a quick time event for an intense finisher. This looks violently gorgeous, but it is a disorienting effect that hurts your capabilities to attack after the kill. It causes the camera to move erratically and hide enemies from your line of sight which can easily get you killed on harder settings. This happened for 8 hours and it got old in about 20 minutes because of the lack of exploration or any kind of upgrades. By throwing away any kind of upgradeable weapons the combat never changes which hurts the game tremendously.
Stale multiplayer cannot save this game.
If you can muscle your way through the repetitive 8 hour bloodbath and still desire more ninja action then there is a multiplayer component available but don’t get too excited. The multiplayer is an obvious afterthought that features a co-op mode and a deathmatch mode. Both require less skill then the campaign and ask that you just smash the x button.
I love Ninja Gaiden. The first two installments from recent years are two of my favorite games. This game does not even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the previous two. By lowering the skill level and precision in the game it does the opposite of what Team Ninja was hoping for. It alienates previous fans and brings nothing to the table for attracting newcomers. Everything about this game is forgettable and that is exactly what I will do now that I have finished this review.