Early Review Scores Eviscerate Ninja Gaiden 3
Resurrected in 2004, Ninja Gaiden set a benchmark for third-person action combat that has rarely been touched since. Ninja Gaiden Black, the revised and expanded edition of the game, clocks in at an astonishing 94 on Metacritic. 2008 follow-up Ninja Gaiden II, while not quite as impressive, has a respectable 81 average score.
After the release of the second game, however, Series mastermind Tomonoba Itagaki and publishers Tecmo Koei had a widely publicized fall-out. Itagaki left developers Team Ninja, taking a number of other staff members with him. New director Yosuke Hayashi took over production.
Judging from the early response to Ninja Gaiden 3, Itagaki’s departure had a disastrous effect on the quality of Ninja Gaiden 3, which is currently holds 60 and 61 Metacritic averages on PS3 and XBOX, respectively.
- IGN’s Mitch Dyer gave the game a 3/10, citing “shallow combat, a misguided narrative focus, and awful pacing.” He calls the story “meaningless,” and bemoans the lack of difficulty in a series that use to put so much emphasis on challenge. “Erratic and unreliable targeting” is another contrast to previous games, in which combat is extremely precise. Multiplayer, currently dependent on an online pass (which some players can’t get to work correctly) is described as not “just tacked-on or superfluous, it’s also plain bad.” His devastating closing comments are worth quoting in full:
“Ninja Gaiden 3 is a gash on the face of the franchise and one of the worst games the action genre has yet suffered. It has no consideration for its fans’ wants or what a new audience may have enjoyed. It’s a nightmare that’s as easy as it is uninteresting, and it abandons what used to work for awful new ideas that don’t work together. Under no circumstance should you ever waste your time on this self-indulgent and abysmal wreck.”
- Videogamer.com author Martin Gaston gives the game a 5/10, arguing that it “strays from the series’ true calling.” He complains about cut-scenes full of “nonsensical twaddle” and the fact that protagonist Ryu Hayabusa is limited to the use of a single weapon for the entirety of the game. Most damning is Gaston’s claim that “you can pretty much get through most of the game’s standard normal difficulty by just mashing your regular attack button over and over,” which seems to belie the entire point of the Ninja Gaiden series.
- In their 4.9/10 review, NowGamer calls Ninja Gaiden 3′s combat “wooly and unsatisfying” and “an exercise in attrition rather than skill.” The game’s omnipresent QTE’s come in for persistent criticism. Distressingly for fans, NowGamer claims that “there’s never any actual sense of satisfaction from playing Ninja Gaiden 3; it’s the gaming equivalent of the trophies children now get from simply participating in a sports event at school, rather than actually winning them.” The review ends by concluding that the game “just isn’t entertaining to play”
How sad to see a once-great franchise take a big step on the road to ruin. Stay tuned for Game Front’s own Ninja Gaiden 3 review.