- Publisher: Tecmo Koei
- Developer: Team Ninja
- ESRB Rating: “M" for Mature
- Genre: Action
- Pros: Decent presentation; co-op; Way easier than past NG games ...
- Cons: ... a bit too easy; bad camera; shallow combat; no extra weapons; QTEs; story
Ninja Gaiden 3's story centers on Ryu Hayabusa's guilt and internal conflict over the thousands of enemies he's had to kill as well as on his magic right arm that contains the souls of those he's killed that is slowly taking over his free will. Other external things drive the story, of course (Why are we in England, who are these British-y people jabbering in Ryu's ear?), but this is really about Ryu's guilt. Except it is executed in the worst possible way. Ryu is always muttering about whether he is a murderer or not, yet he gladly and willingly kills hundreds more through NG3. At certain points enemies will throw down their weapons, give up fighting, and beg for their lives, yet in order to progress the mission you have to kill them. Hayabusa's magic ninpo attack requires you to kill enough enemies to charge up his evil arm, which then lets you unleash a massive fire dragon that kills even more. The game wildly swings between such extremes of brutality and maudlinity that it just doesn't make sense and also makes it hard for the player to actually care about the super serious story the game is trying to tell.
With all of that said, though, it isn't as if Ninja Gaiden 3 is a bad game. Don't misunderstand the negative tone here. The core controls actually function just fine (though the camera is just as wild and unpredictable as past games), and slicing up enemies is just as crazy and over the top and cinematic and cool as ever (we gotta say, it is still fun to watch others play since it still looks cool even of the gameplay is simple). The problem is that with the gameplay so simplified and watered down and shallow, the once great and unique Ninja Gaiden franchise plays just like every Ninja Gaiden wannabe (like the aforementioned Ninja Blade) instead of retaining the things that made Ninja Gaiden fun and interesting to begin with. If you want an easy hack and slash game, then by all means play Ninja Gaiden 3. You'll have a blast. If you are a fan of past Ninja Gaiden games, however, and if you want a challenge, or depth, or any sense of satisfaction from the videogames you play, NG3 is a letdown.
Even with our complaints, Ninja Gaiden 3 is kind of mindless fun for a few hours while you play through the single-player campaign. The game also offers online co-op challenge modes along with some competitive modes. Co-op is interesting because it lets you level up and earn new abilities, which makes it slightly better than the SP by default even if it is just arena-style battles. Competitive multiplayer consists of 4v4 team battles where actually hitting anyone is a challenge. The gameplay works fine against dumb A.I. enemies, but when a human foe that can dodge and block and actually avoid your attacks is in front of you, the gameplay just doesn't work as well.
Graphics and Sound
Visually, Ninja Gaiden 3 is a decent looking game. Ryu's character model is nicely detailed and well animated. Enemies aren't as detailed but there are lots of them and the framerate is consistent. Environments and special effects for everything are fine.
The sound is also mostly up to Ninja Gaiden standards. Nice sound effects for all of the hacking and slashing and enemy types you face, appropriate music, and solid voice acting.