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Ninja Gaiden 3 - Razor's Edge 360 Review - -
Ninja Gaiden 3 - Razor's Edge 360
Reviewed by
Sean Warhurst
Ninja Gaiden 3 - Razor's Edge 360 Review. A marginally better game than its predecessor, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razorís Edge is worthy of a rental but the development team are going to have to return to the drawing board if they hope to return the series to its former glory.

Gameplay 6.5
Graphics 7.0
Sound 8.0
Value 5.0
Developer: Team Ninja
Rating: R18+
Review Date: May 2013
Sean Warhurst


Ninja Gaiden 3 - Razor's Edge 

Originally released to lacklustre reception in early 2012, Ninja Gaiden 3 raised the ire of fans for downgrading the difficulty in a misguided attempt to make the classic series more accessible. A franchise thatís notorious for being as punishing as it is rewarding, for years the Ninja Gaiden series was held up as one of the pinnacles of hardcore gaming and this re-release (Originally an enhanced port for the Wii U before finding its way back to current gen consoles) sees developer Team Ninja scrambling to rectify the major bones of contention fans had with the initial release.

Aside from a few bonus missions where you play as Ayane from Dead or Alive, the story for Ninja Gaiden 3: Razorís Edge hasnít changed an iota from the original release, which of course means itís still gleefully bat-shit insane. Protagonist Ryu Hayabusa finds himself pulled into attempting to avert a hostage situation due to the terrorists explicitly stating that he himself is their one and only demand. After the mission is botched, Ryu faces off with the Joey Jordison lookalike leader of the terrorist cell, getting his right arm tainted by a blood curse in the process.

Consumed by a murderous rage, Ryu must locate a method of removing the curse whilst also contending with the machinations of the terrorist organisation and what exactly his true place is in their overall scheme for world domination. Chuck in your archetypically bonkers boss fights and a healthy smattering of enemy Mech-Tanks and youíre left with a pretty accurate summation of all of the clichťs of Japanese pop culture rolled up in one pretty little package.

The stories in previous instalments were suitably cheesy but Ninja Gaiden 3 ramps up the ridiculousness to almost uncomfortable levels of camp, especially the grandiose speeches from the main villain. But, in all honesty, nobody really comes for the story in a Ninja Gaiden game; ever since its 8-bit origins, the trump card in Ninja Gaidenís arsenal has always been its over-the-top and challenging combat.

One of the major gripes with Ninja Gaiden 3 was the exclusion of iconic weapons that have long become inextricably linked with the character of Ryu; The Staff, Scythe and Wolverine-like claws all return this time around, but feel strangely underpowered compared to their previous incarnations. Indeed, after the novelty of exploring the different combo possibilities wears off, youíll find yourself sticking mainly to the more powerful Katana.

As for the difficulty, Team Ninja has shown that theyíve been listening to long time fans of the series and ramped it up exponentially in an attempt to appease the hardcore. On this level, theyíve succeeded Ė The game is infinitely more challenging than its predecessor. Unfortunately, itís too challenging.

The brutal difficulty of the original entries was tempered by a delicate balance of an impeccable control scheme and intelligent game design, a balance that Ninja Gaiden 3: Razorís Edge sorely lacks. In an attempt to bring back the old-school fans of the series, Team Ninja has overstepped the mark to the point where the game now feels like an excruciating chore to play. Aside from increased damage from enemy attacks and the removal of healing items, the most crippling new addition would have to be the presence of what seems like a thousand soldiers with rocket launchers shooting from the sidelines during each and every single fight.

The control system has been tweaked to resemble the more fluid style of the previous entries, but instead of the exquisite thrill of chaining together devastating attacks youíll more often than not find yourself bum rushed by a group of enemies, frantically spamming the X and Y buttons in an attempt to disengage from the multiple Kamikaze soldiers who take a good chunk of your health with them when they go. With the inability to store healing herbs, youíll have to rely on building up your Ninpo in order to salvage a fight thatís quickly turned sour, as this is now the only method of healing mid-fight.

Gore has also been increased exponentially; visceral geysers of claret gush freely as you lop off the limbs of foul mouthed soldiers. Enemies are more adept at blocking and seem much more aggressive this time around, and this time around also sees some familiar enemies from previous entries making an appearance.

Level design leaves a lot to be desired, basically shunting Ryu through corridors leading to the next area filled with enemies. Occasionally youíll have to do a bit of rudimentary platforming but for the most part the mechanics for wall climbing Ė Having to repeatedly hammer the trigger buttons Ė takes any enjoyment out of these brief respites from combat. If any game is going to be attributed to the development of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, then Razorís Edge is definitely it; itís one of the most physically exhausting games Iíve played outside of the Kinect.

Graphically the game is decent looking enough but the animation, character models and low quality textures all scream ďBargain Bin EffortĒ, which is odd considering the legacy this series has. Compared even to something like Arkham City, which preceded Razorís Edge by almost year, the graphics fail to match the standard expected of modern releases.

The sound design is sufficiently engaging and competently handled, although the profanity and non-sequitur laden dialogue is as ridiculously campy as it gets. There are a nice selection of achievements, many of which are focused on acquiring new skills and they unlock at a steady pace throughout the game, giving achievement whores like myself an incentive to keep playing.

Itís not that Razorís Edge is bad, exactly, itís just a disappointingly hollow and unrewarding experience compared to previous entries, and, more to the point, the dropping of the ball in regards to the balance of difficulty serves to undo much of the goodwill built on the additions that actually do work to make this version a better experience.

Final Level

Despite being a solid enough game, Razorís Edge just doesnít feel like a Ninja Gaiden game. This could be due to the myriad of concessions made by the developer or the departure of long time series director Tomonobu Itgaki, but in a landscape populated with recent exemplary action games such as DMC and Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance, merely being adequate just isnít enough. In their attempt to address the issues with the original release, Team Ninja has inadvertently created a whole new set of problems that serve to detract from the improvements. The difficulty is now there but the funs till isnít, and many of the additions seem superfluous. The extra missions play smoother than the game proper, presumably because they were created after the fact, but they add little to the experience as a whole and the DOA cameos seem awkwardly shoehorned in.

A marginally better game than its predecessor, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razorís Edge is worthy of a rental but the development team are going to have to return to the drawing board if they hope to return the series to its former glory. Itís a shame to see such a beloved franchise topple from such lofty heights; many a weekend was sunk into achieving perfect scores on Ninja Gaiden: Black in the heady days of my youth and hopefully the inevitable follow up returns the series to its classic gaming roots.


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