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A ninja's last stand - Ninja Gaiden 3 review (Updated after first DLC)

Review by Philippe – 3/29/2012


It's been a bit over a week since the release of Ninja Gaiden 3, and I've been putting in the hours trying to complete as much stuff as I can before either my brain explodes or writing a review becomes an exercise in anger management. You might have read my first impressions sometime last week, and I'd like to build on that. The review is based mostly around the story mode. Non-story mode elements will be bunched together near the end of the article.

The update regarding the DLC can be found at the end of this article.

Bloody hell!
Bloody hell!

First off, as previously mentioned, the graphics are quite good, though at the cost of low framerates in certain areas. At first I was surprised the game's resolution is 720p and not 1080p, but that was probably a concession to keep the gameplay intact. During the final boss battle in particular, there was so much slowdown that I couldn't pull off any moves correctly at first. Because the timing of the button presses are very important to successfully execute certain techniques, the slowdown was hugely detrimental. The final battle was the only time when it was really problematic, but the game does get choppy on occasion.

The character designs are much less busy this time around. The bad guy - whom I like to call the MMM (Mysterious Masked Man) - is much less generic looking than Genshin from Ninja Gaiden 2. Though he uses a sword like Ryu, his fighting style is quite different. I won't pretend to know much about sword arts, but his style seems closer to fencing, and has a European flavour to it. This distances him from Doku and Genshin, whose styles were obviously more Oriental. Human enemies as well are more western-style than in previous iteration. There are still a few ninjas and fiends (demons), though the brunt of your attacks will be aimed at western soldier-types.

I mentioned before that just in the first few levels there was an interesting variety of enemies. I still stand by that claim; for the first 3 or 4 chapters, the variety is pretty good. But it goes downhill from there. Mostly because the 3 most common enemy types will still be around until the last chapter, and will represent the majority of the enemy forces. Gameplay variety also takes a hit; I don't remember there being any stealth sections after chapter 3. There is still a bit of platforming, and there are a couple of different events here and there, but the game sadly falls into the old Ninja Gaiden 2 pattern: wave after wave of enemies. Especially in the later chapters it gets tedious.

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