User Reviews: Ninja Gaiden 3 PS3 User Review

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Ninja Gaiden 3 User Review

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Replay Value:



Overall Rating:       6.5



Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Number Of Players:




The iconic dark assassin returns in Ninja Gaiden 3. Now fully under the direction of Yosuke Hayasashi and the reformed Team Ninja we're presented with a re-envisioned experience. This sequel doesn't look or feel like the Ninja Gaiden games that have come before. Radical streamlining and lesser production values and an effort to carry the action forward with a more involved narrative will no doubt stab at the heart of ardent fans of the series. NG3 brings with it a host of game play changes that few will graciously accept, assuredly less would even have asked for. So changed as it may be, underneath the troubled execution and numerous disappointments, conceivable from no matter what angle it's viewed, Ninja Gaiden 3 remains a bone crunching hyperactive action game dripping with blood and gore and a combat system that still manages to challenge, given the option to approach it as such.

The story here makes a clear attempt to humanize Ryu. No longer the ominous and rarely spoken lead, Ryu is softer, countenance revealed, yet challenged with the burden of having taken the lives of so many. While there's no doubt something intriguing may have been formed on such a premise, any glimpses at tugging at the heart strings are often a missed opportunity. The reoccurring feeling that I signed up for an action-game, thick on action, light on story, but here I am playing something feeling like the Metal Gear Solid of this genre with a lot less effort, just isn't easy to accept without argument.

Staring at the list of changes made to the game play are many. This list has lines crossed through much of the Ryu we once knew, gaining little additions along the way as a result. Gone are the treasure chests. Gone are the Murasami shops and all of the upgrades and recovery consumables that were offered to players from games past. To the dismay of many, gone is Ryu's arsenal of weaponry, reduced now to a katana sword, shurikens, a lone ninpo art, and a bow. A bow that can dilate time for a couple seconds to shoot off an arrow uninterrupted. The very definition of level linearity is redefined here. There is absolutely no need to explore or search to do anything other than to press on straightway to the exit, dispatching opposition along the way.

Changes to Ryu's platforming abilities are difficult to accept with any more than a modicum of appreciation at best. We now have Ryu slowly scaling building sides, stopping to throw a kunai knife, one at a time, as distant enemies present themselves to be killed. The delicately synchronized left, right, left, right input timing required to scale a wall side or traverse across a rope feels deliberately obnoxious, presenting a jarring change in game play tempo. Popularized QTE's are now inserted throughout play. These QTE moments are usually presented with haste and offer a appreciable level of stylistic panache.

The combat is the body of the experience and given your effort and mode of difficulty can become quite satisfying. Graduates familiar with Ninja Gaiden's play really have no business approaching this one on it's normal difficulty, where a player feels nigh-invulnerable and accomplishes far too much by mashing on the quick attack button, effectively insulting the intelligence of the series' former fans. Thankfully, having finished this on hard mode, I received a tall order of intense Gaiden action, sometimes flawed but usually competent. Ryu brings some new acrobatic sword play techniques with him, making this his most accomplished act while wielding the blade. His combos are numerous and plenty, lending themselves to intelligent implementation and the pressing need to keep your whits about you and maintain control over the situation. Those looking to find a balance of fast paced action with methodical implementation can find it here. This is where NG3 succeeds best.

The enemies are varied and are in plenty, generally meeting the status quo from prior NG entries. The enemy AI employs every tactic written in the NG book of adversaries. Though, a few of the foes come off feeling half baked—mutant gorillas just aren't doing it for me. After the first six stages don't expect to meet any new enemies, aside from the bosses. These bosses are varied and plentiful to the norm, fighting fewer demons and fiends, and in their place more machinery, mutated forms, a bionic T-Rex (!), including the often publicized, crimson colored foe dawning an opera mask. The loss of fighting boss fiends is dully apparent. These feinds carried with them a personality that usually made itself well known before having done battle against them, encounters carried a certain feel of significance. As for NG3, until very late in the game, many of the bosses, while adept enough to provide a solid fight, often shore up little to no feelings, leaving battles forgettable, save it be for the thrill of the fight.

With controller in hand Ryu will feel and perform just as expected. He's fast, responsive, and empowered to clear an area of opposition with input finesse. This is the Ryu we remember in play. The series' up close and personal feel is attractive. The intimate contact between player and adversary has made an identity for itself amongst it's genre peers. While NG has always presented players with some degree of troubled camera tracking, particularly in tight areas, NG3 exacerbates these matters with numerous field of view caveats. Fighting to maintain that perfect view thus become far too problematic. Now with an even greater assortment of onscreen enemies, often spawned and encountered from nigh every direction, maintaining a good handle over it all can become overly burdensome, not to mention the slowdown that gets in the way occasionally.

A mixed bag lacking in quality is about as accurate as I could describe the graphics. Generally, some of the player models look great, sometimes looking more detailed than Ryu's prior outings. But the environments found in several stages can become downright drab and devoid of much needed detail. The first level is the very best this game ever looks. Mid-game, some stages are so flat and so uninterested, the impression that I'm playing something unfinished becomes unavoidably evident. But the list of visual downers doesn't end here. Effects like fire can appear overly muddy with dull shades of orange and red, lacking the opacity and particle detail expected from explosive effects of this generation. NG3 may hold up well compared against PS2 HD-remastered collections, but it's far behind the standards of newer games released within the last several years. Add in a final boss battle that struggles to keep it's performance consistent and we're left with a game leaving gamers feeling hungry from lack of visual nourishment.

The sound quality is preformed adequately. The voice work satisfies as far as usual localized translations are concerned. I liked Ryu's English voice, and so too the voices from some of his comrades, like Mizuki, showing a mild improvement over past titles. The native Japanese voice work does the job within tolerance as well, probably my language mode of preference. The majority of the sound tracks are solid, some even sounding great. However, too many come off overly synthesized, as if generated on an electric keyboard. An up tempo heavy metal track is heard too often during some stages, and it's not a good one at that. Dull palm-muted riffs chopped on low E just doesn't belong here. The sound effects are strong with satisfying sounds of blood sprays, steel on bone sword-sawing, and the swooshes and whirls that have been intrinsic to NG are common place. Annoyingly, enemies like to blurt out comical one liners during combat, some of which are repeated far too often, all but inviting me to turn the audio effects volume down.

The modes of play here makes this the broadest NG game yet. With the a plentiful amount of Ninja Trials making their return, including the online co-op play as seen in NGS2, there's now a more robust 8 player mode, allowing up to 4 vs 4 teams battling to the death. Squaring off with other would-be ninja as a test of might does have it's moments, and given the focus proves amusing. As players earn experience they gain access to mildly significant upgrades to ability and appearance. It's a welcome addition, albeit sparingly implemented in production and overall depth.

Why Team Ninja saw fit to streamline this sequel and make the sweeping changes they have is beyond me. Granted, it brings back the blood and violence from entries past; it's visceral steel-on-bone gory. So while the immensely dedicated action-gamers will probably find a combat system here enjoyable on it's higher difficulties (I know I have), gamers looking to feel and experience the next evolution in action games had better keep looking. The digressed changes seen and felt here are too far and too deep for a franchise that once prided itself as something more hardcore and better produced. Seeing past Ninja Gaiden 3's many disappointments is perhaps the ugliest jagged pill for gamers to swallow. As an action game, stand alone, without references to prior NG entries, it makes for a fair experience. But this isn't the game we know and love from a series that has offered us a lot better.

“I'm mystified and disappointed by this turn of events.” I couldn't articulate this travesty better than former President Clinton could for himself =)

This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.

User review by Temjin001

3/27/2012 4:37:37 PM

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (9 posts)

Thursday, March 29, 2012 @ 12:18:56 PM

Great review, Sensei Temjin. Thorough, meticulous, and well written. I think you've swayed me into returning my unopened copy, playing the previous ones, while waiting for a significant price drop, especially if they are a lot better.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012 @ 12:35:41 PM

Thanks, when you do get around to the game, I'm sure you'll like it quite a bit more than the average gamer. You being a Master Ninja and all, you'll be able to see straight past several of the popular generalizations made at the game and find that the combat system is still good and solid Ninja Gaiden fun.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 3/29/2012 12:36:12 PM

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Thursday, March 29, 2012 @ 6:00:06 PM

Believe me, I trust your insight. Moreover, my gaming interests are pretty much identical to your own. You've played more one-on-one fighters, and I've played a couple more open-world games, but that pretty much wraps up our differences.

So, when I read about your disappointment in the game, and hear from you that even NG2 is a lot better, I kinda feel I can compensate for it by getting it for a good deal.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012 @ 10:19:49 PM

Ok, so I picked up a copy from target (after returning mine).

I initially got it as a part of Target's b2g1free deal, but had purchased it with 2 $20 dollar games, which brought down the value to 47.99. But I returned them, then repurchased it with 2 $60 games, which brought it down to 39.99.

Thanks, Sensei Temjin.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012 @ 10:20:13 PM

I'm glad to see Ryu back in your avatar!

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Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 10:34:34 AM

Coolness. Well good, because some of the Ninja Trials are pretty challenging. It'd be nice to have you at my side while tackling the tougher ones.

BTW, I tried NGS2 last night. And wow, feels so different now. I think the big complaint about NG3's camera is due to it tracking closer to Ryu now. I was surprised by how small Ryu appeared on the screen while playing NGS2's Team Missions. Also, his dash there covers at least half the distance as he does in NG3.

Having played quite a bit of NG3 I've come to appreciate quite a bit of the combat changes. It's not just his enhanced combo list, but the way the game has you racing to take down the smaller scrubs and performing the Obliteration on them to greatly feed your sword and then unleash your UT and Ninpo on the toughies. The UT BTW covers way more ground, too. Anyway, play it lots and you'll find the differences and probably appreciate them as well.
And btw, I have been doing lots of clan battles. I'm approaching level 30 in rank. Oh, and keep this in mind. Your move set and abilities are very limited while low level. Once you get up past level 25, or so, you'll become quite powerful. So don't sweat feeling gimped at first.

Anyway, this weekend I'll be busy moving my family so I may be offline for several days while I switch my internet service and get unpacked etc

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Saturday, March 31, 2012 @ 3:09:00 PM

Coolness. Yes, that's the first thing i noticed when I start playing NG3. Ryu's character model appears much larger on screen, and his UT's and dashes cover more distance.

I liked how certain techniques were not completely thrown away. Par example, although the essence absorption mechanic was entirely removed, charging up your UT's (while your arm is glowing) is still there, and is still faster on landing.

I definitely have to play more, but I'll be looking forward to teaming up.

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Sunday, April 01, 2012 @ 12:38:18 AM

Nice. Oh, and you'll get more powerful katanas as you travel through the story, thus giving you more combos and abilities.

I started it on Master Ninja, testing it really.
First off, all Karma, combo hits, and text commentarry are displayed in Master Ninja. Nice.

Also, I think the bone on steel ability can combo instant kills, much like Ezio can in AC BH. If someone is standing directly next to Ryu as he finishes a bone and steel attack, ryu's very next move connects as a bone and steel on the next enemy. Im still testing it, but something like that appears to be the case at times.

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Sunday, April 01, 2012 @ 10:44:19 AM

Ninjanalysis. Awesome.

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