|System: Xbox 360*, PS3|
|Dev: Team Ninja|
|Pub: Tecmo Koei|
|Release: March 20, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes|
Multiplayer, too, is a neat addition. Clan battles are fast and hectic, rewarding those who think quickly and take advantage of the chaos of others. It uses a level system that unlocks new costume parts, but also enhances one's abilities (including such basic things as what sword techniques one has available), which means that those who have been playing longer have a tremendous advantage. Luckily, levels gained in the Ninja Trials, which can be played either solo or through online co-op, carry over, meaning that one can increase one's repertoire before jumping into online matches. There's definitely some lag and hitching when playing online, but it's only occasionally a frustration. Pulling off a stealth kill or a "Bone and Steel" finisher in multiplayer is immensely satisfying, and well worth the occasional network hiccups.
The story is a tremendous step up from previous entries, with a more vocal and sympathetic take on protagonist Ryu and a villain who tends to wax philosophical. He oozes melodrama and that, combined with his thick British accent, makes him fun to watch during cutscenes. There's a child involved, and it's incredibly awkward almost any time anyone speaks to her, but the game's attempts at pathos are appreciated, even if they often fall flat. There are some neat nods back to previous games in the series as well, both with regard to plot and gameplay. Some of these references actually stretch all the way back to the original NES games, which fans of the series are sure to appreciate.
It's odd, though, that there's so much there for the fans in a title that generally seems ashamed of its roots. There are so many generic action games out there, did we really need Ninja Gaiden to become another? I desperately wanted to love Ninja Gaiden 3 and, as I played the game, I found things in it that definitely demanded praise and consideration. I never really crossed that threshold, though, and there were several moments that induced frustration—whether due to the wonky controls, throw-happy enemies, or artificial limits on Ryu's ability usage—that were clearly just poor design choices.
Ninja Gaiden 3, I'm sorry, but I'd like to just stay friends.
Date: March 21, 2012