Ninja Gaiden 3 (Hands-On Impressions) User Review
Highs: High volume locales and admirably detailed character models. This is particularly so concerning Ryu and the main cast. Texture detail appears to have been increased over prior outings, with Ryu sporting more realistic skin and a more ornately detailed outfit. Backgrounds are generally rich with textured density and well chosen materials. Visuals during multi-player are trimmed back, resulting in a lesser detailed experience when playing online.
Lows: Frame rate struggles to keep up during higher volume encounters. Screen tearing can run rampant while engine is placed under stress. The lack of anti-aliasing reveals aliased edges. Minor visual inconsistencies, like a helicopter passing through buildings, or Ryu appearing to float above the ground plane on some undulated surfaces.
Sound: Sounds like a Ninja Gaiden game. I opted for Japanese voice-overs.. they do sound Japanese ;)
Music and sound effects sound good. I'm not blown away, or nothing, but it's good. Fighting the Phantom of the Opera boss sounds like a John William's Star Wars Episode One Darth Maul theme =)
General Changes: The game offers a more streamlined system of game progression. Essence orbs and Murasami shops have been eliminated. Inventory consumables including health and ninpo aids are gone. Health is restored after a battle session or after initiating ninpo. Killing enemies accumulates a ninpo meter, finishing off immobilized enemies feeds this meter. When the meter is full Ryu can choose to use his ninpo art, which clears the battlefield of all active enemies. If Ryu sustains heavy damage during battle a blood splash indicator resting behind Ryu's vitality bar pulsates. Receiving further damage at this point reduces Ryu's max vitality capacity. Vitality resets itself to default after completely clearing the battlefield of all enemies and any subsequent enemy re-enforcements. Ryu fights only with his sword, shurikins and, or, bow. Ryu's dash is now a slide, and the slide will stagger or air launch an enemy on impact. The ultimate technique (UT) can only be initiated after having dispatched several foes, indicated by Ryu's glowing red arm. Ryu can scale up a wall side by using his kunai as leverage. He can stop to throw a projectile at an assailant within view. Ryu has some evasive actions while affixed to a wall. Numerous QTE's are moderately included throughout the play. Pressing up on the d-pad during game play reveals a moves list. The graphical user interface is clearly lacking in cues and contextual information.
Combat Highs: Ryu is empowered to dispatch many foes, and these foes are as aggressive as ever. Those familiar with the ebb and flow of prior games will feel right at home. The Hard difficulty provides a satisfying challenge for veterans... don't jump at rocket launcher men, zig-zag slide to them instead ;)
Combat Lows: The greater openness of levels and increased count of enemies work against the camera's field of view, troubling the player to maintain spacial awareness of the battlefield. Standing near a wall or a corner reveals more camera problems. Enemy AI can sometimes be loose, especially so concerning bike riders... he's driving into the wall!
Feels and moves like a Ninja Gaiden game. Ryu is tight and responsive and he's governed by the laws of gravity more-so than some of his peers who share the same genre. Slowdown and camera can be a hindrance.
Ninja Gaiden fans will no doubt have mixed feelings about this game. Those who've worried that the combat may have been overly simplified or dumbed down need not be too concerned. There's a handful of fresh new tactics to employ during play and the general feel of the combat does hit the mark. The loss of essence empowerment is a vital change, but the tinkering and re-tuning of the combat system helps to keep it playing smart and arguably now preventing a player from becoming too reliant on UT tactics as from past entries. The loss of Ryu's vast assortment of weapons strikes me as the heaviest blow to the experience. The enemy types are numerous, and the bosses I've encountered are solid and do well to test my skills. The slowdown and camera works against the player, especially now with more enemies on-screen than before (PS3 versions), and considering that, oftentimes, battlefields are now larger compared to entries past. Visually, it's the best looking entry in the series, but marred by some occasional less-than-the- norm visual abnormalities that may be lacking attention to certain details. While there's been some bumps and bruises adjusting to this new Ninja Gaiden, I'm absolutely pleased I purchased the game, even if this is the least epic entry yet from the core series. And, oh, yeah, there's a story in here, too... I suppose it's like videogame anime. good 'nuff, right? =p
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.