Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge Review
Previously, on Ninja Gaiden 3…
“Perhaps Team Ninja will take that route… save this title with a major update patch that brings back all of the Ninja Gaiden goodness the fans were wishing for before this half-assed God Of War/Dynasty Warriors wannabe hit the streets.”
And now… Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge.
Update they did. The update that fixes the majority of the issues with Ninja Gaiden 3 didn’t come from an automatically installed patch or DLC, it came in the form of a second disc-based version called Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. This “patch” is now available to fans for the “low, low” price of $39.99. So, how does this “double-dip” affect the fans that purchased Ninja Gaiden 3 when it was hot off the presses? Well, not taking into account the fact that you may have sold it, traded it or flung it like Tron’s disc into a bonfire, after purchasing NG3: Razor’s Edge you will have spent approximately one hundred dollars in order to enjoy the fine Ninja Gaiden experience you should have received in the first place. That is not to say this hasn’t been done before (even Ninja Gaiden Black, the best of the series, was a double-dip), but this whole situation which started around Ninja Gaiden II and continued with III seems a bit… contrived.
Before you peg this reviewer as some kind of hater, bear in mind that a bigger Ninja Gaiden fan you will not find, all the way back to the NES days. Many a sadistic evening was spent fighting the hardest difficulty level on the Xbox iteration, and many hours were spent analyzing the fine details of the combat engine in order to get the absolute most out of it. A higher respect and anticipation for each new game you will not find.
As for the game itself, it is indeed an improvement on the original release. The dismemberment and gore has returned to its rightful place, and the combat engine has been brought back up to something that resembles what fans have come to know and love. Yes, the game’s difficulties are far more “Ninja Gaiden” and challenging than the original release, as they should have been in the first place. Punishing and brutal, ohh yes! Up to par with Ninja Gaiden Black? Hell no. The combat control overall feels really refined and back on par with it should have been, although there still remains a few sticking points. (Dashing around an enemy still feels much less fluid and a bit clunky, projectile weapon aiming is an exercise in frustration.) Yes, even the ever-present camera issues are back once again, seeming to survive every single iteration of this series since Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox. It can be said that the camera in these games is an enemy combatant in itself, and the really skilled gamer will quickly learn how to compensate. Although that sentiment is mostly nonsense, overcoming even the shoddy design is something to brag about.
For starters, one major change you cannot miss is that of a side campaign starring Ayane. Not unlike Rachel’s crop ups in various versions of previous titles, Ayane’s story will interrupt the main game at certain points and deliver a tangential experience during the main story. While some may find this intrusive and distracting, it is actually well done and betters the already ridiculous storyline. Momiji and Kasumi also appear, but not during the main game… their antics are reserved for the Ninja Trial and Chapter Challenge modes.
Speaking of which, Razor’s Edge contains a metric ton of extra content. The Ninja Trials alone boast over 100 missions to complete, plus the multiplayer modes and clan battles. The graphical presentation is beautiful, and can even be called stunning at times. These titles were always lauded as the ones that will push the graphics chips of the systems they’re on to their limit, and the details and textures are on fine display here. The voice acting (English) is also pretty convincing, despite the fact that the story is about as believable as a Sunday afternoon Shaw Brothers feature.
Is everything forgiven? Well, no. Razor’s Edge, in short, should never have been. This industry is at a point where many developers feel they can release a substandard product with a view toward releasing a “new and improved” version a year later, and double the sales. If Razor’s Edge had come out a year ago instead of the first version of Ninja Gaiden 3, it would be easy to claim that the series was nearing its former glory. All in all, if you’re one of the lucky ones that avoided the first version due to low scores or bad word-of-mouth, then this one might just do it for you.
Reviewed By: Russell Garbutt
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
This review is based on a digital copy of Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge for the PlayStation 3 provided by Tecmo Koei.