Ninja Gaiden III – E3 Impressions

Ryu Hayabusa is back, and he hasn’t slacked on any of his ninja-skills since we last saw him 2 years ago in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. One notable feature of the Ninja Gaiden franchise was the steep learning curve and unforgivable difficulty that drew a line between the serious hardcore fans and those looking to just have some fun. However, in this demo of Ryu’s third installment, I became somewhat impressed at my ability to take off multiple heads with grace and ease, thus indicating to me that Ryu has definitely changed.

Let me just point out I consider myself to be on the side of the fence that is looking for a good time rather than spending the time to master the blade of buttons. So naturally, I became somewhat leery when I stepped up to the controller to don the guise of Ryu once again, all the while remember the scarring left from Sigma 2.  However, I managed to easily handle the crowd control and executed moves that were much easier to perform. Although, was “easier” the problem? I wasn’t able to verify the difficulty setting, but as I played, I watched Ryu become a master ninja as he spilled gallons of blood in each setting. Aside from that fact, I won’t lie and tell you that I didn’t have a blast.

Unlike the last Ninja Gaiden with the precise button sequences, I think this controller mechanic was much more forgiving, allowing me to input some sloppy commands and still result in some glorious execution of another gun-totting evildoer.  One special attack move allows you to charge up your arm, and then unleash a hell-fury that gouges all the foes on the screen. However, once you activate that special move, the camera zooms in a bit too close to the action, and the screen gets doused with an overkill of blood-red effects, removing any chance for you to make out what is happening on the screen.

As with the previous iterations of Ninja Gaiden, the graphics maintained that crisp sharpness that Team NINJA has been known to deliver. Although I enjoyed the smooth frame rate, I didn’t notice any changes in the design either, which isn’t exactly a good or bad thing. Maybe a part of me was hoping for a little more kick towards a grittier, realistic look. Regardless of my expectations, it still shines with vibrant colors and doesn’t slack in detail.

At the end of the demo, I was put up against some sort of giant mechanized spider. Shamefully, I was bested by the arachnid machine and my button mashing mastery wasn’t enough to save me.

Overall, I believe that Ninja Gaiden 3 is looking to win back some fans with the relaxed difficulty and the same iconic gameplay felt from the previous installments. Perhaps they will even include a hardcore mode for those looking to earn their place as a warrior from the old traditional method: blistered fingers and tears.

We’ll keep you updated throughout the year once we learn more of what Team NINJA has in store for Ninja Gaiden 3.