By Steve Wright
Ninja Gaiden 3 first graced our television screens in 2012. A Team Ninja game, it wasn’t received very well; most critics gave it a thumbs-down to due simplicity on many fronts: ninpo, weapons, gore and overall enemy difficulty, to name a few. With the release of the Wii U version of the game (that Australia will totally get… right?), Team Ninja and Tecmo Koei used the opportunity to rework the game, delivering (in theory) the spiritual sequel that critics wanted from the get-go. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge.
What’s new? More ninpo, more weapons and WAY more blood. The story of the game is the same, which means it's still completely over-the-top. Additional story bits have been added alongside new playable characters like Ayana from the Dead or Alive series. The difficulty of the game has been ramped up as well, meaning your attacks do far less damage in contrast to more punishing attacks from baddies.
Oh, and there are rocket-toting jerks in the background of levels. I honestly can't remember if they were always there, but I certainly am aware of them this time around. There are lots of them. Lots and lots of them.
Additional weapons add to the variety of the game, but honestly don’t change combat up all that much. Extra ninpo abilities and a diverse unlockable system also add variety to combat, but in the end, you’re going to block, mash the “X” button (on 360) and then hold down “Y” to go berserk whenever your character glows. There’s not much else to it.
That's a shame, really; in a landscape littered with such fresh titles as DmC: Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, I struggled to find a workable strategy with Razor’s Edge that didn't amount to frantic button mashing.
On top of all that, level difficulty is all over the shop, and never in a “rewarding once you’re past that section” kind of way. You’re given cannon fodder in some areas, only to have them replaced with enemies who block everything you’ve got… and then, Team Ninja throws some rocket-launching enemies around the edge of the map just for kicks. Let me tell you; it’s not that fun to get destroyed by rockets sent from afar when you’re already busy dodging and countering melee attacks around you.
Online coop and versus modes add to the game’s replayability, but seem tacked-on… as did most additions to the game. I could almost imagine a Team Ninja representative standing beside me with a clipboard as I checked out Razor's Edge's menu, ticking off the options that they’d managed to wedge into the title.
Even though I’m bitching quite a bit, fans of the genre or the Ninja Gaiden franchise will find merit in this re-release. It does need to be said that there’s just something a bit… off… with Razor’s Edge, and it’s best summarised by the strange loading errors that I encountered. My 360 copy of the title literally took three minutes to start up each time I wanted to play. It didn't matter if I tried to boot off the disc or via an installation on my 360 hard drive, I was up for a lesson in patience before I could go and hack limbs off baddies. A quick google search tells me that I’m not alone. It’s a good parallel to the game itself: it’s got pretty packaging, but something’s just a tad wonky.
For the rest of us, be cautious. Ninja Gaiden 3 didn’t go over extremely well in 2012, and Razor’s Edge in 2013 is still the same game, just wrapped in a coat of polish. It doesn’t hold up to similar entries in the genre of late, and as such, those who buy the game should make sure they're buying it for the right reasons.
Note: We didn't play this title on Wii U, so we can't comment on GamePad functionality. The more you know, eh?