Ninja Gaiden 3 was originally released back in March 2012 to mixed reviews thanks to a limited amount of gore and a confusing and half written story. The game was said to be too streamlined with too much gore removed and lacked the depth and gameplay that the Ninja Gaiden series was known for.
Fast forward to November 2012 and the launch of the Wii U, and amongst the launch titles for that console was a revamped Ninja Gaiden 3 that went by the name Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. This same version has now been ported over to the PS3 and includes all of the original DLC that came along for Ninja Gaiden 3, as well as some enhancements to try to address the issues that left the game lacking back in 2012. This begs the question: Did they actually succeed in making the game better, or is the game still a mess?
The story begins with our hero and Ninja assassin Ryu Hayabusa getting a visit from Japan’s Self-Defense Force (JSDF) who request his assistance with a terrorist incident in London. Ryu learns that the terrorists, a cult calling themselves the Lords of Alchemy, are calling out for his appearance in London. He complies and heads there, accompanied by JSDF member Mizuki McLoud, to find himself face-to-face with the leader of the cult. After a battle in the Prime Minister’s mansion, he is cursed with the Grip of Murder on his right arm that constantly feeds on the deaths of others, and will kill him if does not continue to feed it with the death of others. As he loses the Dragon Sword in the process, he barely escapes the mansion with his life, and learns that the Lords of Alchemy threaten the world’s immediate annihilation if every nation does not surrender within seven days.
Included in Razor’s Edge are missions that focus on another character from the Ninja Gaiden world – Ryu’s ally, Ayane. She stars in her own set of two missions that involve the return of the Black Spider Clan and have her slicing and dicing her way through quite a few enemies on a level that Ryu also plays through, albeit at a separate time.
The Ninja Gaiden series has always been a hack and slash type of game and Razor’s Edge falls right into that category. Basic game play is as simple as pressing square for a light attack and triangle for a heavy attack. The game is simplistic in that sense and this makes the game very repetitive. There is somewhat of a counter system, and blocking some attacks are possible. The enemies will have machine pistols and rocket launchers as well as swords to use against you. The bullets and rockets seem magical in the sense that they never hurt the bad guys, even if they are standing right next to you when a rocket hits you dead on. This would seem almost laughable except for the fact that you may be lying dead while the bad guys are still standing around unscathed.
You’ll eventually unlock more and more weapons by finding Golden Scarabs lying around, but the weapons don’t really make that much of a difference when taking on different enemies or bosses. Ryu also has throwing stars and access to magic called Ninpo. Ninpo is a useful tool when surrounded by quite a few enemies. Your Ninpo meter is filled by slicing and dicing through the bad guys and then pressing circle to use it once that meter is maxed out.
As you play through the game taking out the bad guys, you’ll earn Karma points which are used to purchase weapon upgrades and new costumes within Ryu’s upgrade tree. Each weapon is upgradeable to level 3, and the upgrades do make them more powerful. My personal weapon of choice was the new Lunar Staff but all weapons seemed equal in power and damage once they are equally upgraded so weapon choice didn’t seem to matter. For completionists this might be something that will keep them playing even after they finish the campaign.
Once you have completed the campaign, you can play through all of the previous levels with Ryu while keeping your upgraded weapons in the Chapter Challenge or you can play through the challenge as one of three other characters, each with their own set of weapons and costumes, and each with their own upgrade trees. You can choose to play as Ayane, Momiji or Kasumi. Once completed, each chapter has its own leaderboard based on the amount of Karma you earned and your overall rank. The leaderboards are already full of people with nothing but nines across the board for Karma and S Rankings, so there might be some glitches out there.
Razor’s Edge also brings us a multiplayer mode in the Shadows of the World area. The Ninja Trials are a collection of 100 various challenges that can be played by yourself, or in online co-op mode with a friend. These challenges are not for the faint of heart, as they can truly be life threatening and will test your ninja skills. Clan Battles are up to eight person versus battles that can turn into hectic free-for-alls that can be fun one minute, and frustratingly awful the next. As with any multiplayer game, who you play with will determine your over all experience, so playing with friends online is key to your enjoyment.
Your online Ninja has his/her own upgrade tree just like Ryu and the others, and this tree needs much attention if you want to compete online. Weapons, armor, moves, Ninpo and weapon skills must all be learned (purchased) with Karma points you can earn in challenges and battles. There’s also an overall leveling system that is used to unlock more weapon, skill and armor upgrades and you can keep track of where you stand from the status menu.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge tries hard to bring the game back to the roots of the Ninja Gaiden series and hard core fans will find that they came pretty close to that. The cinematic slicing and dicing of enemies, with arms flying around haphazardly makes the game fun to watch, while the repetitive nature of the combat can make the game boring and tedious to play.
Fans will love it but others may hate it.