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Team Ninja



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PS3, All

Release Dates

03/20/12 Tecmo Koei
03/22/12 Tecmo Koei
03/23/12 Tecmo Koei

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Ninja Gaiden 3

By Jake Weston 07th Apr 2012 | 12,705 views 

Team Ninja's latest threatens its dynasty.

As the first game of the modern Ninja Gaiden series without infamous game designer Tomonobu Itagaki in the director’s chair, it’d be easy to write off Ninja Gaiden 3 as a cheap cash-in. However, with Team Ninja still behind development, and, most surprisingly of all, a story penned by the legendary Masato Kato (whose credits include Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Trigger, and work on the original Ninja Gaiden trilogy for the NES), Ninja Gaiden 3 holds an air of legitimacy that would not otherwise be present. Unfortunately, the combined work of Team Ninja and Kato cannot save Ninja Gaiden 3 from being a massive disappointment.

Ninja Gaiden 3 continues the story of Ryu Hayubasa, a ninja of the Dragon Clan, now working for the Japanese government as a special agent. This could have been a cool plot set-up if it wasn’t already the same basic premise as 2008’s Ninja Blade (itself already a poor Ninja Gaiden rip-off), though Ninja Gaiden 3 attempts to distinguish itself by exploring Ryu’s character. However, despite a more ambitious story than its predecessors, Ninja Gaiden 3’s plot fails on almost all fronts, be it the nonsensical dialogue, plot-holes, or extremely poor pacing. 

The Ninja Gaiden series has always been able to make up for poor storytelling with well-designed gameplay, but Ninja Gaiden 3 simply does not cut it. Precise and demanding risk-vs-reward duels have been reduced to a series of simple hack ‘n’ slash encounters, and the game tries to artificially up the intensity by throwing a bunch of mindless enemies at you. Ryu is no longer the efficient killer he was of past games - he slogs through the battlefield, randomly swinging his blade through the air as he struggles to control the direction of his attacks. Compound this with a horribly placed camera and it’s almost like this game tries to actively to make sure you're having the least amount of fun at any given time. 

Team Ninja must have been aware of these issues, because it seems like they drastically toned down the difficulty to compensate. While there is a lot to be said for making a game as accessible as possible, Team Ninja has removed virtually all challenge from the experience. Other than a couple of harrowing boss fights (many of which you’ll have to fight more than once throughout the story), most encounters can be won through button-mashing. Build up a meter, and you get your choice of two screen clearing, insta-kill moves at the push of a couple of buttons (one of which will also instantly regenerate your health). This is not the Ninja Gaiden that this generation of gamers has grown to love; this is "Dynasty Warriors: Ninja Gaiden Edition". 

This lack of depth bleeds over into the presentation. The engine shows no apparent additions or improvements over Ninja Gaiden II, environments are flat and lifeless, and the voice-acting is grating to say the least. Everything about the design is so static and dull that often I couldn’t believe that I was playing a game from 2012. The one saving grace comes from some interesting moments examining Ryu’s psyche and guilt over all of the victims he's claimed. I commend Team Ninja for attempting to shake things up in this way, but the execution is botched; why should I feel guilty about slaying this one dude, when I’ve done so without mercy to thousands before him?

Multiplayer is the epitome of tacked-on. There are two modes offered: Trial Missions and Clan Battles. Trial Missions are essentially small arenas from the single-player mode that can be played alongside someone online. And... that’s it. Clan battles are a little more interesting, offering 4v4 close-quarter ninja battles. Unfortunately, the targeting and camera issues that plague the single-player are exacerbated by the chaos that these matches devolve into. Your ninja can level up to learn new moves, gain new weapons and customize its appearance, but all of the upgrades are superficial, and the customization options disappointingly limited.

Ninja Gaiden 3 would have been a bad game by 2004 standards. By today’s standards, it’s downright embarrassing. It’s almost baffling how many steps back this game has taken from the Itagaki-directed prequels, and just goes to show how important a strong, guiding vision is for game development. Ninja Gaiden 3 holds a few interesting ideas hidden within, but the sacrifice of a coherent storyline and well-designed gameplay is far from a worthy trade-off. 

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of Ninja Gaiden 3, provided by the publisher. The PlayStation 3 version of Ninja Gaiden 3 offers Move support, but was not available for review.

VGChartz Verdict


Read more about our Review Methodology here

Sales History

Total Sales
1 4,888 17,957 7,112 3,746 33,703
2 1,521 9,657 4,099 2,055 17,332
3 733 6,347 1,144 1,119 9,343
4 484 3,299 750 605 5,138
5 366 2,507 823 498 4,194
6 371 1,957 710 398 3,436
7 437 1,336 514 277 2,564
8 264 1,212 267 221 1,964
9 266 1,111 414 228 2,019
10 266 1,447 186 244 2,143

Opinion (6)

Barozi posted 14/06/2012, 02:00
horrible game. Any other Ninja Gaiden game is far far superior.
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Heavenly_King posted 26/04/2012, 07:18
The action in this game is the best from the 3. It is more fast paced and frenetic. The new slide offers Ryu more mobility, allowing the player to chain his attacks to more enemies. The camera is still bad like in NG2. They should get the camera much further in order to allow you to see your surroundings. So gameplay wise is better, but it does less stuff in the other departments, like exploration, collectables and the weapons. The game is really fun, and Hard as ever. I have always had a hard time in "hard" mode in all NG games, and this is no different; it IS HARD. The good thing is that this time around the checkpoint system is more friendly :D.

The game is Good, it is not a good as NG:B/S, or NG2/S2; but is not a bad game!!!! Ninja Gaiden fans should give it at least a try and stop hearing the damn reviews!!!
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Mr Puggsly posted 18/04/2012, 07:10
Just finished it, not bad. *
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Mr Puggsly posted 17/04/2012, 08:33
Just finished it, not. I'll admit it feels shallow and endless swarms of enemies gets old. But its worth taking a look at after price cuts.
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Mr Puggsly posted 16/04/2012, 04:12
I'm currently playing it and I'm enjoying it. While its a step back for the series, its still an enjoyable hack n' slash game.
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DevilishSix posted 28/03/2012, 03:37
This game is a disaster all around. Last I checked it had a 50's metacritic average, because the lead developer decided to gut what Ninja Gaiden game was supposed to be about, which made the core fans disgusted, to cater to the casual demographic. Trouble is the casuals never cared about this game in the first place.

The sales are an absolute trainwreck. Ninja Gaiden 2 when it launched in 2008 on X360 it had 168,000 in USA sales. Ninja Gaiden 3 has roughly 38,000 in USA sales on two platforms (PS3 & 360) with I don't know how many millions more consoles on the market since 2008.

It's a fail of EPIC proportions and I am very disappointed in what Hayashi (the lead director) and Team Ninja have done to one of my favorite franchises. I guess Itagaki took all the best talent with him when he left and all the best game ideas. RIP Ninja Gaiden I hope you get the respect you deserve if and when there is a next game.

In the mean time if you want to try a NG game try NG:Black or NG2 and stay away from this silly game it is not a true Ninja Gaiden experience.
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