Ninja Gaiden 3 Preview

A series beloved by many (not even counting the NES classics), Ninja Gaiden has become a de facto action game franchise all over again. The recent string of Ninja Gaiden games has become known for its brutal combat, tight controls, and uncompromising difficulty. However, after the release of Ninja Gaiden 2 on Xbox 360, developer Team Ninja was dealt a serious blow; series creator and longtime visionary Tomonobu Itagaki left the team to pursue other interests.

Ninja Gaiden 3 will be the first full entry to the Ninja Gaiden series developed without Itagaki’s oversight, putting the game in a position of great importance for the franchise. Can the series carry on without Itagaki’s direction?

From the get-go, it’s clear that the team is trying to distinguish Ninja Gaiden 3 from the rest of the series. Ninja Gaiden 3 is a little more grounded than either Ninja Gaiden or its sequel, moving away from some of the more fantastical elements (dragonbone skeletons and the like) in favor of real world enemies and soldiers, a story where Ryu Hyabusa works for the UN, and taking on global threats in Dubai. The game’s storyline also aims to “unmask” Ryu, giving it more of a personal tone and a chance for us to see his inner workings.

The single-player demo that I was shown had Ryu fighting off soldiers in Dubai as they flanked him with rocket launchers from what appeared to be mechanized desert snowmobiles. The gameplay included elements like Quick-Time Events that would pop up at times, letting him slide under obstacles or deliver a timed killing blow to his enemies, and the familiar Izuna Drops, ninpo attacks, and Ultimate Technique attacks that unleash devastating damage with stored up Ki have returned.

However, what might be most disappointing to many fans of the series is the single-player campaign’s lightened difficulty. The franchise has previously worn its toughness proudly, but Ninja Gaiden 3 takes a lot of effort to make the game more accessible. Your health recharges (your ninpo bar will regenerate your health after you take out a group of enemies), using your bow has a generous auto-aim feature, and killing off enemies is generally a lot easier. While there is a Hard mode that delivers some challenge with tougher enemies that hit harder, it’s just not on the same challenge level as its predecessors.


One of the big new features in Ninja Gaiden 3 is the inclusion of multiplayer; a first for the series. What I saw of multiplayer dealt with 8-player matchups, including free for all combat and 4-v-4 team deathmatch-style modes. Before each battle, you’re able to customize your character by changing his outfit color, his headgear, and other accoutrements. The customization features aren’t terribly deep, but do let you distinguish your character before each battle.

Purists will likely balk at the some of the new changes, as the lack of difficulty might draw in a new audience while alienating the existing one. Additionally, the inclusion of multiplayer will likely be a divisive feature for many fans who would prefer the game to stay focused on a single-player formula. The changes are certainly ballsy, but will the gamble pay off? We’ll just have to find out this March when Ninja Gaiden 3 releases.

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Gavin Jedionston

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About jedionston

Gavin "Dirk" Jedionston the "N" in "In N Out"

Posted on March 12, 2012, in LATEST ARTICLES and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I am looking forward to grabbing this game as soon as I can. I am a bit wary of some of the changes as well (I will miss the extra weapons and ninpo the most I think), but hoping I still enjoy it as the previous NG combat is my favorite going right now. We will see. Might have to ratchet that difficulty up. I like NG to kick me around a little. Great preview!

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