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Review

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge Review

  • Game release: November 18, 2012
  • Reviewed: November 19, 2012
  • WIIU
Aaron Sampson on Google+

It's harder and more varied than its original release, but Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge doesn't reach the greatness of its forebears.

by

Ninja Gaiden 3 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 was met with a large chorus of disappointed cries. Clearly, developer Team Ninja heard and considered the negative feedback that players flung in its direction like the blades of a thousand and one katanas, and thus crafted a retooled, more difficult edition of its brutal action game. Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge has more faith in you than did its original iteration, challenging you to prove your worth rather than mindlessly slice your way through hordes of foul-mouthed ninjas. There are other improvements and additions too, all of which sound good on paper. But making Razor's Edge substantially harder did not make it substantially better.

In many ways, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge resembles its blade-heavy forebears, with series hero Ryu Hayabusa eviscerating ninjas and dodging about at an alarming rate--and with alarming amounts of viscera--as accompaniment to your frantic button presses. With some assassinations comes a cinematic animation in which the camera swoops in close as Ryu slashes and chops, though they are fewer in number this time around, which keeps the pace flowing better. Every so often, you can hold a single button, and Ryu slices and dices through a number of foes, though you can't rely on this mechanic to do too much of the work for you: you have to earn your victories.

Indeed, Razor's Edge is quite hard at certain points. While you started the original release with a full repertoire of moves, here you begin with a scant list of attacks and purchase new combos and upgrades once you have earned enough karma through battle. You earn new weapons and magical ninpo attacks too, which is a great relief considering how the original Ninja Gaiden 3 limited you to a single blade and a single ninpo. Now, you can cut into bad guys with a giant scythe, voracious talons, or dual katanas, each of which subtly varies the tempo of combat in satisfying ways, and features its own gory animations.

What a bloody mess!

The increased challenge also comes in more traditional ways: enemies do more damage and you do less, and certain new enemies, such as throngs of speedy demon-creatures, threaten to overwhelm you by sheer numbers. But while the challenge is welcome, Team Ninja didn't balance it out by tightening the controls--and all too often relies on the projectile-spewing enemies that plagued Ninja Gaiden II. It simply isn't fun to have rockets flying at you from multiple directions in a melee combat game, particularly when they interrupt animations and knock you down. More importantly, there are excruciating moments when Ryu simply doesn't want to perform the necessary action, even though the animation for his previous move is clearly finished. This was a noticeable foible before, but given how easy Ninja Gaiden 3 was, it was more a nuisance than a liability. Now, Razor's Edge requires precision, but doesn't give you the tools to be precise.

The Wii U control pad doesn't prove a great asset to Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge--nor does it present a great liability. Given the mashy nature of combat, the sticks and buttons allow you to keep pace as well as a traditional controller. As for the touchpad, the ability to select weapons from the screen rather than pull up a separate menu is a handy touch, though otherwise, any action you can perform on that screen (ninpo attacks, for instance, or ninja sense, which shows you where to head next) is more efficiently performed using buttons.

Ryu racks up the kills and the karma.

Along with standard encounters, the boss battles have been intensified, in some cases exponentially, though the original release's recurring boss still manages to be a tedious one. At least most of these battles test your wits in this iteration, with additional attacks and vast amounts of health lost when big baddies like a hulking metallic dinosaur get a swipe in. But while many of these encounters require more focus than before, the challenge was not evenly applied. The god prototype requires many minutes of patient slashing and dodging that you will likely repeat a number of times--yet you'll probably triumph in the larger-than-life Obaba battle in a single go. Your biggest enemy when it comes to bosses is not the battle itself, but rather your health bar: your maximum health diminishes over time as you take damage. There's a good chance you might enter a boss battle with your health bar a fraction of its full length--and there it shall remain even when you restart the battle.

The pacing has been dramatically improved at least; those moments Ryu clutched at his arm and impaled his attackers in slow motion have been transformed into otherworldly challenges in which you must annihilate all enemies before your health siphons away. These sequences aren't as difficult as the main-world action that surrounds them, but they are a welcome alternative to the pace-killing moments of the original. So, too, have the quick-time events been adjusted, though not entirely removed. In many cases, the game still requires a particular button press at a particular time--it just doesn't tell you what button to press. The move you're meant to perform is obvious most of the time, though every so often, the lack of a prompt means you have to guess what the game wants you to do, and so you might press the attack button when you're actually meant to dodge out of the way.

Show that pus bubble who's boss!

The story remains much the same as before, and its attempts to humanize Ryu with the addition of a wordless little girl that sees him as a father figure remain just as hollow. At least it forgoes Ryu's uncomfortable murdering of those begging for their lives, among other tweaks. There is a new element here, though not a surprising one: two chapters featuring heroine Ayane, who boasted her own segments in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 as well. She's lighter on her feet than Ryu, waving around her dual blades and leaping about with a somewhat different moveset. Her missions feel shoehorned in rather than organic extensions of the narrative that preceded them, but her nimble acrobatics enliven the experience.

For an extra challenge, you could go online, where you can take part in cooperative challenges and (gasp) competitive matches. If you played Ninja Gaiden Sigma's co-op, you have an idea of what to expect here: servings of slashes and dashes for two. The sense of progression in the single-player campaign is duplicated online; as you play, you level up and learn new techniques, along with costume pieces, costume colors, and so forth.

Rockets vs. ninjas: the age-old conflict.

The co-op is fun, in part because it jettisons superfluous mechanics and quick-time events in favor of the core action. This is in spite of the hyperactive camera, which is jarring enough to get you temporarily lost as you try to figure out just which of the blade-flailing figures is you. More importantly, there's a sense that you aren't quite in control. The auto-targeting is fickle enough in the single-player game, but it can be frustrating to have the game send you slashing toward one opponent when you meant to focus on another. Not that you will get much chance to experience the issue: at launch, there are so few players online that you could wait a significant amount of time before finding a match.

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge makes a myriad of fractional improvements that address many of the main complaints leveled against the original release. It's a welcome gesture, and one that makes for an improved action game--yet a hundred small fixes are no substitute for a game built from the ground up to be a challenging, fluid, and fulfilling action extravaganza. These are the elements this series is known for, though it seems we might need to wait until Ninja Gaiden 4 to see Ryu return to his true form.

The Good
Bloody, dramatic swordplay is a blast to watch
Certain battles and boss fights test your skill in entertaining ways
Additional weapons and Ayane chapters provide variety
The Bad
The controls can't always keep up with the action
Frustrating fluctuations of difficulty levels
Story falls flat
6
Fair
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22 comments
Rheinmetal
Rheinmetal

I found Ninja Gaiden Sigma extremely hard. I had to quit for that reason. Whenever I hear that that a Ninja Gaiden game becomes more difficult, for any reason really and from any starting point, that means for me only one thing: stay away from that game!

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

Literally the only legitimate argument in this review is that they relied too heavily on missile spam - the thing that made the end of NG2, actually half of the game, EXTREMELY annoying. I don't see that the game loses 2 points for something that you should already be used to.

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

Basically what they've done is notched up the diffuculty on ninja gaiden sigma 2's level, but we dont really have those herbs or orb drops that give health. So it's bloody frustrating to play, really. Also ryu's UT this time around doesnt get get inturrupted, so all you're doing throuout the game is spamming UT', without trying to learn any combo variations because the game doesnt give you time to do that.

Also don't even get me started ln hero mode. Why does the mode exist really, i mean who would play a mode where youre invincible. If youhave to give a mode for newbies give an easy mode like all the other 1 million games.

I understand the difficulty in games like dark souls and devil may cry,where you have to learn to progress, but in a game where your ulti is press and release triangle for 5 seconds, it completely goes over me.

I was cursing throuout the game, if that sort of thing is your idea of fun, please go buy it.

Chatch09
Chatch09

Awww yes, another heavily bias Gamespot review. The person reviewing is obviously a total PC gamer (and mmo's at that). Sorry there wasn't a macro for all of Ryu's combos.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

Don't get it... What I see on the video is the opposite of that "It's not the fast paced and intense game you are waiting for".

It looks quite intense. The control must be pretty screwed up for GS to say that. Maybe they will touch it a bit on PS3 and 360.

icebeam83
icebeam83

Funny how people complained that NG3 was too easy, now it's too difficult for them.

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

I'd give it an 8.5. Why? Nintendo published an M rated game & I respect them for doing that. That and IGN gave it a 7.6 so chill out.

ThePowerOfHAT
ThePowerOfHAT

Definitely an improvement over the original release.  Makes me wish they'd re-release it for the 360/PS3.  NG3: Black or somesuch.  Whatever the case may be, this at least looks like a return to the more hardcore, skill-based combat of the first two number titles in the series.

IcedEarthaholic
IcedEarthaholic

Now that's funny, because I feel this is a pretty good game overall, definitely deserves at least an 8 in my books. Much, much better than the original version from what I heard. Not even going to bother getting the original version to compare either, as I heard it was truly a broken game. 

xolivierx
xolivierx

I find it a bit ludicrous how games released on the Wii u for the launch seem to be getting low scores. I wasn't expecting much looking at their launching titles, the only games that somewhat seemed to be good were Zombie and Mario. I'm still waiting for the Wii U to show me its potential to have GOOD games that are not for kids before I drop 500$ on this.

istuffedsunny
istuffedsunny

6.0 is exactly what this port deserves. They can try to copy Itagaki's NG2 all they want, at the end of the day it's still NG3.1. Tecmo really screwed up by letting Itagaki leave, Hayashi can't take this series forward.

CleanPlayer
CleanPlayer

I really like the game, I'd give it a 7.5 or 8.0. My only complaints would be the frame rate and the gamepad

koospetoors
koospetoors

Well I guess its proof that one can polish a turd.

 

Still a turd though :-/

wexorian
wexorian

All remember our childhood where ninja and zombie games were awesome? like Tenchu, onimusha, Resident evil.

wexorian
wexorian

1st of all why They ported this Ninja for wii u, it had Bad reputation and Crappy ninja will make it more bad. as for Ninja gaiden Really they need to fix things a lot :D

Nexozable
Nexozable

At least it'll probably be more playable than the original, which is what really matters to me.

Falru
Falru

I don't know why they thought they needed to "humanize" Ryu, it's not like he's ever been a bad guy. He's the good guy who kills bad guys, and he even generally ends up saving people who he's capable of saving (they usually have massive boobs too).

 

He's nothing like Kratos, who just murders everyone around him pointlessly.

 

They could've done so much more with the "possessed arm" concept than this stupid crap. Like make the main story be that Ryu's inner demon is attempting to take over his body, and has begun manifesting itself in his arm. Throughout the game, the arm sometimes temporarily handicaps you in various ways that require you to change your playstyle in order to survive. It'd also be really cool for Ryu to have to occasionally do this 1v1 fights (taking place inside his head) with his inner demon as it tries to take over his body or something.

 

I'm not even a creative writer and I just made up something more interesting for both story, and gameplay.

Mrod1212
Mrod1212

I personally thought NG3 showed a little bit more of Ryu's human side; like an actual person you could actually relate to(somewhat at least). It made him more likable to me personally.

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

How Ninja Gaiden III was received here reminds me of Greg Mueller's reception of True Crime: New York City.

hiphops_savior
hiphops_savior

You can only put so much lipstick on a pig. At the end of the day, it's still a pig.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@GregoryBastards If you can't play it correctly, yea, you're spamming UT. There's no reason for you to be using UT at all considering that you have blood fury and obliteration techniques to use instead. In fact there was never any reason in any of the games to use ultimates, they required you to stop moving for a second and risk getting attacked. Utterly not worth the damage.

greenbasilisk
greenbasilisk

@Chatch09  This game as well as Resident Evil 6 deserved a way higher score!!!  I been going to Game Informer for my reviews now.. I think they are more.. I mean less  snobby!!  Even IGN is better. 

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@Chatch09 Except this reviewer gave Ninja Gaiden 2 an 8.0

The game is far inferior than previous ones. That is all; no bias or double-meaning here. It's a fact.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@Warlord_Irochi It isn't. There's literally nothing wrong with the controls unless you're absolutely terrible at games.

Rickystickyman
Rickystickyman

 @xolivierx Well stuff like this generally happens with most consoles or updates. The first Kinect games for the xbox got mediocre or low scores. The first 3DS games got low scores, first playstation move games got mediocre scores. It's natural. But yeah the Wii U needs show some quality games that aren't ports.

ForceofNature9
ForceofNature9

@istuffedsunny 

NG2 wasn't even that good though. It was a laggy cluster**** at times. NGS2 was better. With that said, I do miss Itagaki and don't have that much faith in Hayashi.

th4tp3rson
th4tp3rson

 @istuffedsunny do you honestly believe this guy? it comes with more unlockables, boss fights, and FREE DLC! plus the framerate is better and you can upgrade weapons

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

@wexorian Not to mention the original Ninja Gaiden games for NES. The third wasn't as "magical" as the first two in my opinion (history repeats itself with the modern trilogy?), but it was still pretty good.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@Warlord_Irochi @Chatch09 It really, really, really isn't. Anyone who thinks NG2 was better than razor's edge has never played any of the games and sucks at them if they did. The only bad thing about 3 is what Kevin said - missiles. That and the missing blade of the archfiend and vigoorian flails and tonfas.

That aside, nothing in the entire game is any worse or more ridiculous than the first two games and in fact the game is much closer to the first in terms of gameplay and difficulty, even with the constant missiles, than 2 was.

soilworker651
soilworker651

You said it, I've literally seen far more effort put into the first level of both of the real Ninja Gaiden games with Itagaki at the helm than this entire catastrophic poor excuse of an "apology" version in its entirety.

Team Ninja Dog can't handle this franchise anymore.  It's best to let it die before they destroy it ever mo-...oh right, "Yaiba"... Well at least I'll never even so much as look at it.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@ForceofNature9 @istuffedsunny Staircase before elizabet is a perfect example. The game slowed down so bad with the hundreds of dudes you were killing that you could actually see Ryu's animations.

Nexozable
Nexozable

 @H4num4n I've already got Sigma on my PS3. And Sigma 2.

 

I think I'm good. :D

justinka777
justinka777

 @Nexozable  @Mrod1212

 thankyou Nexozable, ninjas dont have "feelings". they also dont encounter the badguy and say stuf like "hey give the girl back!"

they simply stab they bastard in the face and take her back.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@Grenadeh "Anyone who thinks NG2 was better than razor's edge has never played any of the games and sucks at them"

Or maybe they they just like it better? If they don't think like you in that regard they suck at games?

Quite the statement, really...

superepicbaws
superepicbaws

 @H4num4n  @Nexozable

 Sigma 1 is not any easier than black, it just has more save points and shops, so it is just more convenient for the player. The action is just as difficult. Also, on master ninja mode it is actually harder beacuse you start out the first chapter with only the dragon sword, and the second rachel mission is infuriating.

Nexozable
Nexozable

 @H4num4n Ninja Gaiden 2 Sigma is a lot easier but I'm not sure about Sigma 1, I keep getting my ass kicked. xD

H4num4n
H4num4n

 @Nexozable  @H4num4n Arent't the Sigma versions a lot easier than the original/black version? Yes, i'm an elitist bastard:)

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge

  • Wii U
  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge features additional playable characters, a new gameplay mode, a redesigned battle system with enhanced enemy AI, a robust ninja skills upgrade system, expanded online features including bonus content, and a host of other features.
ESRB
Mature
All Platforms
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes
Check out even more info at the Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge Wiki on Giantbomb.com