|System: Xbox 360*, PS3, Wii U|
|Dev: Team Ninja|
|Pub: Tecmo Koei|
|Release: April 2, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes|
In fact, “smoother” might be the best descriptor for the game in general. Awkwardly stilted quick time events and odd story beats have been excised or minimized, while combat has been made far less “sticky” than it was in the original version. This carries over to the multiplayer and trials as well, which are largely unaltered (other than coupling the leveling mechanic with a skill purchase menu a la the story mode), but benefit tremendously from the improved controls, and the ability to carry out your own desperation kills and bring a foe down with you. Ryu (or the unnamed ninja in multiplayer) feels more fluid, more mobile and, while combat definitely feels more dangerous, it’s exhilarating instead of frustrating.
Most of the time.
There are, unfortunately, exceptions. One boss fight against an airship stands out in particular for combining the worst elements of the game’s camera (which still doesn’t always know where it should be) with the bow’s overly-insistent auto-aiming to create a scream-at-the-screen-and-throw-the-controller moment. This was exacerbated by the game’s mid-fight checkpointing, which keeps track of how much health you have when you first hit the checkpoint. Normally that’s not an issue, but here it made the last section of the fight unnecessarily frustrating, and there wasn’t an easy way to start the entire conflict over.
The dinosaur boss fight, meanwhile, might actually be more monotonous than it was originally, though it, and all boss fights, are definitely better for them having implemented health bars for these signature foes. At least then you have a vague idea of how long the frustration will last.
Really, it’s these little tears at the seams that keep Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge from being utterly exceptional—the places in which the game plays against its strengths, rather than to them. The game could have benefited in taking just a bit more from the structure of older games in the series. While the mostly linear environments serve to keep the action moving at a fast pace and provide a certain cinematic flair, I sometimes missed the more open exploration elements of the previous games. I also found that combat, without an easy way to heal mid-fight without saving up for and using ninpo, still turns many fights, especially boss battles, into wars of attrition. It’s very possible to have low health and no options except extreme care, whereas the previous games tended to dole out more health drops when the going got tough. It’s minor stuff like this that adds unnecessary frustration to an otherwise stellar retooling of a disappointing title.
Date: April 5, 2013