But no, because Ninja Gaiden has the (justifiable) reputation for being an intelligent and difficult action game series people had very different expectations from this game. Ninja Gaiden 3 is neither intelligent nor difficult. Ironically it's at its most enjoyable when the difficulty setting is as low as possible and played after a really hard day at work.
That's because Ninja Gaiden 3 is visceral. With a capital V. The vicious combat is the entirety of this game and those rare moments between combat set pieces are there simply to provide save game points and a brief moment to catch the breath before the next set piece. They're big, spectacular set pieces, filled with gore, slow motion slice-and-dice, and swearing. There's a vague sense of horror about the game's scenario itself but for the most part you're not going to have the time to sit and reflect on it, not when there's people to stick sharp things into.
Now I loathe Michael Bay and everything he stands for, but Ninja Gaiden 3 captured my interest for a couple of reasons. Firstly, while it's not especially challenging, it is empowering. I don't think I've come across a game that makes players feel quite as superhumanly powerful as this game. Sometimes it’s nice just to kick back and play around, and Ninja Gaiden 3 does that nicely.
Thirdly, I loved the movement of the game. It sounds small, but movement when done right can have a primal effect on the audience. Think about how impactful a well-made ballet can be, or how flashy the good hip hop dancers are. There's a poetry to Ryu's movement that has a similar impact. He dances around his enemies with such elegance, and the punctures them with such an aggressive flick of his wrists that there is a definite dance-like quality to his movements. It's primal and it's thrilling to behold when it really clicks into gear.
When it's all in motion, Ninja Gaiden 3 is a darkly beautiful game. The splashes of red and tearing flesh is expertly rendered. Ryu is an impressively built hero. The boss battles are real highlights of explosions, firepower and energy. Yes, the multiplayer is weak but here’s an idea: don’t play the multiplayer.
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