Ninja Gaiden 3 is the very first game in the franchise developed by the post-Itagaki Team Ninja, now led by Yosuke Hayashi, leader of development in other games like Dead or Alive Dimensions and Metroid: Other M. The game is available for both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 and still falls into the same action-adventure, hack n’ slash genre of the two entries before it.
But sadly, something really bad happened to this game during development and publishing because the truth is that Ninja Gaiden 3 is a horrible game in almost every aspect. Literally everything that could have gone wrong went wrong with the game, from the visuals to the gameplay, from the music to the multiplayer that should have never been implemented to begin with.
First of all, there’s a very stupid story about a group of evil alchemist or scientists trying to create a Goddess to remake the world once again and Ryu Hayabusa teams up with a group of military from both Japan and USA to try and stop them. But the problems are not with the story itself. This franchise has never been known for its great plots, even NG1 which is considered by many as one of the best hack n’ slash games ever created had an “OK” story at best. The problem in Ninja Gaiden 3 is the way the plot is explained and the events and dialogs occurring in the cinematics.
There are way too many events that simply make no sense at all, like for example when Ryu and Momiji, who make a couple of very brief appearances return to the Hayabusa Village and are forced to fight a gigantic version of Obaba, the old witch from the Black Spider clan that we fight in Ninja Gaiden DS and Sigma 2. Once Ryu defeats the witch, who appears as a very, very big boss you have to literally climb and jump around, the game simply forgets the event ever happened, there’s no explanation as to why Obaba appeared, what she wanted and the characters just never say anything about it ever again.
A few other cases like these happen in the game, like when a very ugly blonde scientist becomes a prototype of the “Goddess” and after defeating her, the players are never explained who she was, why she was evil and other such important things. All these give the feeling that each mission or chapter of the game was probably developed separately and the stupid story is a laughable excuse to try and tie them together that ultimately failed miserably.
Another thing is that in both the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden series, Ryu Hayabusa has always been shown as a silent and badass ninja with super abilities, but in here, while he’s still very powerful, he talks way too much and becomes unnecessarily attaches to the woman who gives him orders and too close to a little girl. It’s only fair to remember that in Ninja Gaiden 1, Ryu had 15-20 lines of dialogs at most in the entire game, but in NG3, he never seems to shut up and that makes the whole thing feel completely unfamiliar.
The graphics are a real problem, the environments aren’t well made and it’s possible to notice invisible walls or flat textures that try to give a feel of depth but fail. Ryu looks very good but the rest of the characters don’t, they have mediocre textures in their clothes and aren’t well animated. This is especially noticeable with the enemies who don’t have AI and always do and say the same things. It seems as is Team Ninja worked on Ryu and only Ryu while they didn’t polish everything outside of the superninja himself.
Besides the bad textures and animations, the game doesn’t seem to have good lighting effects and the shadowing is very crappy. As mentioned before, something really went bad during the development of this game because even when looking really hard into it, it becomes quite difficult to find aspects of quality in the entire game.
In the sound department, nothing seems to have gone right as well. The entire game is unnecessarily full of stupid dialog trying to make the bad story sound epic or important. The voices aren’t cool at all, especially the English ones which are really terrible and in Japanese, they seem to have changed Ryu’s voice actor because he sounds very differently from his DOA and NG1/2 versions.
The voices bring another huge problem to the game, the common enemies the players fight have lines where they say crap like “It’s the ninja!” or “I don’t wanna die!” The game is so filled with enemies (literally hundreds in a single chapter) that these lines becomes insanely repetitive in the very first mission of the game, and the players will keep hearing them during the entire adventure.
Musically, the game didn’t provide the public with a good soundtrack as well. None of the songs are as memorable as the ones in the previous two games that, while not done by famous composers like Nobuo Uematsu or Martin O’Donnell, they were very cool, but the songs in Ninja Gaiden 3 are completely forgettable and they seem to be there only because the game needed music and just that.
But the worse of it all is definitely the gameplay, it plays and feels like a Ninja Gaiden game but just after five or so minutes into it, it becomes easily noticeable that something is wrong. First of all, the entire game is full of quick-time events like in God of War that go the exact opposite way of what Ninja Gaiden is supposed to be like. They’re way too common, easy to finish and make many key parts of the game play itself.
The combat is terrible, Ninja Gaiden games were always about making strategies for each fight, knowing which weapon to use and how to use it, punish the enemies when they made a mistake, knowing the combos and moves of each weapon, parry their attacks, administer the magic flames and many other things that made a lot of people over the years say that Ninja Gaiden played like a fighting game. But here, the Dynasty Warriors formula seems to have invaded the shinobi franchise.
Enemies respawn from literally nowhere, but not like in the previous games where they seem to appear from a magic spell or something like that, no. Ninja Gaiden 3 makes enemies simply appear out of thin air. One frame they’re not there and the next, six of them appear like it was a glitch in the game’s code. Ryu usually finds himself completely surrounded by hordes of mindless enemies without any AI that simply repeat the same sincronized patterns and say the same lines over and over. Players don’t need to make any strategy to emerge victorious, by simply pushing the square and triangle buttons repeatedly, Ryu will kills everything and be done with it.
There’s also the problem of the QTE in the fights. Like in God of War, after damaging the enemies to some point you’ll see which button to press on the screen to finish them off. The dismemberments of Ninja Gaiden 2 are gone and there’s really no reason for them to have been removed. The bosses are terrible as well, they’re just big enemies with a hidden life bar that require the same strategy as the common enemies: pushing square and triangle a lot to eventually kill them with a stupid quick-time event.
The game focuses a lot on some curse that is put on Ryu's arm because he murders too many people. The curse makes Hayabusa's right arm get all repulsive and in many of the "important" fights Ryu will start to feel some stupid pain and move very slowly while the enemies just watch him and just like the pains comes, it goes without any explanation or it ever having some importance. After the game is over, Ryu will have killed an average of 2000+ enemies but someone will make a crappy excuse as to why he is a hero and not a murderer. The game is that bad.
Besides the combat and QTE, there are some small sections in the game that just make anyone think “why is this here!?” like in the first chapter where a small plaza of some sort is full of smoke and Ryu needs to sneak up behind some soldiers to silently kill them or a escort section where he carries the little girl on his shoulders and needs to stop some monsters from kidnapping her via QTE. These ones are specially bad. Ah, Ryu almost never fights monsters in this game, NG1 and 2 were all about destroying fiends and angry gods but here, most of the chapters will be filled with soldiers and terrorists who poorly resemble Bayman from Dead or Alive.
Another issue are the weapons and magic spells. Ninja Gaiden 1 and 2 had about eight or nine weapons and around five or six spells each. But by default, Ninja Gaiden 3 only has one weapon, the Dragon Sword and one spell, where Ryu casts a flame dragon to kill everything in the area without the need to aim the spell or position him to effectively kill more enemies with a single cast. Team Ninja offered a free update adding the Falcon Talons and Scythe from NG2 but they fail to be like the versions of the previous games and simply feel exactly like the Dragon Sword with a slightly different animation.
Sadly, the entire single player adventure feels like a terrible version of a Dynasty Warriors game with Ryu Hayabusa thrown in and Ninja Gaiden’s button configuration. As mentioned, everything that could have possibly go wrong with the game went wrong. The game is very bad and feels a lot like a disrespect to what Ninja Gaiden 1 managed back in the original Xbox.
But the problems of the game don’t end there. For some stupid reason, they threw in a very crappy multiplayer mode where two players go coop in an area or where several players are put together in a set map to kill themselves using the combos from the Dragon Sword, bow and shurikens (which don’t work properly as well). The competitive multiplayer is terrible and not even the slight customization that forces people to pay extra for the DLC can save it. There’s no depth to it, the maps are bad, the gameplay is bad and the mode itself is laggy and glitchy like all hell.
In short, Ninja Gaiden 3 went terribly wrong in every aspect, it’s really almost impossible to find something good with it because there really isn’t anything, other than Ryu looking good graphically. Even fans of the series that know even a little about what is a good game and what is not will notice that this game has too many problems to be worth it. And now that there’s no chance to get the Dead or Alive 5 Alpha demo from it, there really is no reason to buy or play this game. With the same 60 dollars, it’s possible to buy both Sigma 1 and Sigma 2. Ninja Gaiden 3 is a terrible game that should be avoided like the plague.
- The graphics on Ryu Hayabusa are ok.
- The game included a code to the DOA5 demo in launch.
- Horrible visuals.
- The enemies have little to no AI.
- Crappy bosses require no skill to be killed.
- QTE everywhere.
- TERRIBLE storyline.
- Bad dialogs.
- Broken and Glitchy multiplayer.
- Shitty music.
- Only three weapons that are really just the same and ONE magic spell.
- It doesn’t include the DOA5 demo after launch.
- Graphics and Visuals………..5
- Music and Sound Effects…....4
- Replay Value………………..5
- Overall Score……………….. 4.5 / 10