Review: Ryu Hayabusa Must Account For His Murderous History in “Ninja Gaiden 3”
Ninja Gaiden 3 (360/PS3[reviewed])
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Release Date: 03/20/12
Ninjas are (unsurprisingly) brutal, emotionless killers. Of course, they have a reason for all their ninja sword/kunai brutality: to keep the rest of the world safe from all those baddie terrorists and demons. This justification backs up Ryu Hayabusa’s never-ending mission for justice. But Ninja Gaiden 3 comes from a whole different angle than its predecessors. Our favorite ninja is gonna pay for killing ways this time.
NG3 starts off with our hero taking on a mission from the Japanese Self-Defense Force aka the Ministry of External Affairs. Ryu runs up inLondon and predictably goes ham on a bunch of nameless foes. But then, he bumps into a baddie with unmatched fencing skills and the type of mask Vega would definitely envy. The killer in red takes out the UK Prime Minister and immediately puts himself on Ryu’s hit list.
Now this is where things turn south for our hero. The guy in red, named the Regent of the Mask, whispers a few words then BAM…Ryu’s right arm becomes all infected with the Dragon Sword’s long history of victims. It looks mighty yucky, folks. That curse delves deep into Ryu’s mental state and shows us his more human side. Now all this mindless killing makes Ryu think twice about his “good” intentions.
There are moments within the game where you do feel kinda crappy for cutting some poor sap in half. One such scene is where some dude begs for his life and even brings up his family…then we cut him down anyway. The fact that you’ll continue to kill off countless dudes like him won’t make you feel any remorseful afterwards, though.
We certainly see how the game is trying to paint a dark picture of Ryu and his bloody history, but Ninja Gaiden games aren’t exactly known for its riveting stories. Sadly, this tale falls along the line of totally forgettable. It delves into Ryu’s psychological strife over his killing ways, but you probably won’t care too much about his story anyways.
The gameplay behind this series has always been top-notch. The high variety of weapons, crushing difficulty and unabashed gore are staples of this ninja simulator. This time around though, something feels a tad bit off about this run through.
The game’s difficulty seems dialed back to welcome more casual players into the fold but it kills the challenge for those used to this series. There’s plenty of fodder for you to cut down but you only get to cut them down with nothing but your Dragon Sword. After stabbing down your 150th bad guy, you’ll probably grow tired of wielding just ONE weapon for so long. Okay cool, we’re getting other weapons as DLC but they’re the same ones we used in the last game. New weapons with fresh fighting styles would have been welcome here.