Ninja Gaiden 3 preview – somehow they’ve added even more blood than before

Ninja Gaiden 3 has been more than a little bit of a question mark since its announcement. To this day, we’re still immense fans of the first game in the series, which was easily one of the finest games of the last generation. That said, Ninja Gaiden 2 was a dramatic fall from grace. Even though it was still a fun game, it wasn’t up to the standard that NG1 previously set. And Ninja Gaiden 3? Well, obviously it’s out for some katana-fueled redemption.

When we get to talking about odds of success, though, things get tricky. After our demo of the game at E3 we’re still not completely sure what to think. What seems clear is that the developers are not trying to create the same ninja game that NG1 was. This game is far more action-oriented, and focuses heavily on arena combat with buckets upon buckets of blood and gore.

That said, it doesn’t look like the absence of the series’ father, Tomonobu Itagaki has affected the game all that much, as Ninja Gaiden 3 bears a strong resemblance to NG2. The most striking difference for NG fans is the new inclusion of quick-time events into the combat. Every once in a while during the combat sections, the camera will zoom in really close as your blade cuts into an enemy then gets “stuck” inside the chest (this is all happening in extremely graphic detail right in front of the camera.) This is when the button prompt will show up. Basically it’s “Press X to Explode Enemy.” The enemies erupt into a shower of gore as Ryu finds the strength to continue cutting through the body.

The stated aim is to make combat more intense and intimate, and it certainly accomplishes that much. We’ll have to wait for the final code to see how it feels in the retail game – ideas like this sometimes seem great in a 20 minute demo, but fall apart completely when you’re playing the game and have to finish the quick-time-event for the 289th time. But if you want wet, nasty fireworks, you’ll get ‘em. Plus, the camera problems that plagued the previous game seem to have been alleviated, at least in our demo.

One other notable switch has nothing to do with the actual gameplay, but it amused us just the same: in a WTF-ish, borderline hilarious switch, Ninja Gaiden 3 finds the player charged with rescuing the British Prime Minister. Usually it’s the president of the good old US of A who needs de-capturing. Why the switch? Maybe Team Ninja just decided Barack Obama was too baller to believably need rescuing. Or perhaps they’re just really big fans of David Cameron’s politics. Who knows? Either way, there’s going to be a lot of blood spilled before this ninja sheathes his sword again.

Jun 16, 2011

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