Preview: Ninja Gaiden 3’s Ryu just keeps slashing

July 3, 2011

Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden Sigma stand among the best, and most difficult, games in the action genre. Unfortunately, Gaiden 2 dropped the ball a bit. Will Ninja Gaiden 3 prove to recapture the love of its fans? It’s early, but we’re leaning toward yes.

In Ninja Gaiden 3, you’ll once again play as Ryu Hayabusa. You’ll be faced with another endless horde of hapless enemies to carve your way through with the series’ signature weapon, the Dragon Sword.

The first thing you’ll notice is the blood. It appears everyone in the game is a giant blood bag waiting to be punctured, and it’s sometimes hard to see the action as a result. The next thing you’ll notice? New quick-time events, causing special ‘explode in a massive burst of blood’ animations on your enemies when you execute them correctly.

The combat felt very tight and visceral as we watched the Dragon Sword slice easily through nearly every enemy we were faced. As you kill enemies without taking damage, Ryu’s right arm slowly gets enveloped in a red mist. When it starts glowing, it’s time to look for a pause in the action and unleash a devastating special attack that requires just a moment to charge. If you can pull it off without being interrupted, it’s one slick move that can take out an entire squad of enemies without even breaking a sweat.

Traversing the level from fight to fight had a few nice additions, such as swooping out of the sky onto an unsuspecting enemy to start a brawl and climbing a wall with Ryu’s kunai, only to whip out a shuriken to kill an enemy waiting at the top for Ryu to make an appearance.

Unfortunately, we saw and heard nothing regarding the expected 4-on-4 multiplayer that is set to make a debut this time around. Ninja Gaiden 3 isn’t set to release until 2012, so there’s plenty of time to learn more about it and for Team Ninja to flesh out the rest of the game. The good news is that the combat feels satisfying, and in a game like this, that’s the most important thing.