This game is hard.
And normally you’d think that’s a given as Ninja Gaiden games tend to be very edge of your seat intense games, but while the original Ninja Gaiden 3 was like this to some extent, the normal difficulty wasn’t absurd (which I thought was a good thing) but what the game lacked was depth not difficulty. NG3 was harder than your average action game in most cases, and even though I only died about 10 times or so in the campaign it wasn’t easy, and it took skill, experience and luck to stay alive in alot of the tough situations. NG3 did have two harder difficulties; Master Ninja and Ultimate Ninja I believe, and from what I’ve seen they are pretty ridiculous. I mean Regent of the Mask blocking ALL of your attacks ridiculous, I mean those monks taking all of your health in one explosion ridiculous. But what NG3 suffered from wasn’t a lack of difficulty as I mentioned before, but rather a lack of depth. Even though down the line they added DLC weapons to enhance the experience, those without internet connections or those who bought the game new had to play through the game with just the Dragon Sword and the ninpo, and while I admit it fit in with the game design ideology and in the gameplay it was implemented well, the majority of people didn’t receive it well. I may be preaching to the choir so I won’t go on about the details; by now you must know the issues with the original NG3: not hard enough, lack of weapons and depth overall. Even though I felt that the difficulty could easily be remedied by 1. putting it on a harder difficulty and 2. stop being an elistist jerk and understand that equalizing difficulty isn’t a bad thing as it allows new players to experience the game and then put it on a harder difficulty later, it’s nice to see that NG3: RE fills the shoes of both difficulty and depth.
Many have said from playing the Wii U original NG3:RE that the game is what NG3 should have been, and I definitely can second that. A large variety of weapons to unlock (which I’ve seen in the trailers, the demo only has 3 weapons for Ryu and 1 for Ayane), a skill board to unlock new abilities and moves, item finding, altered QTE sections and deeper combat which incorporates the charge moves of the original NG3, i.e. the one where your sword glows red one and you kill multiple enemies. It feels a bit like Ninja Gaiden II in some ways, especially in how the enemy AI behaves compared to original NG3. Within the first encounter of Ryu’s level there’s already a healthy amount of enemies on screen, which are easy to dispatch but do put up a fight. They’re nowhere near as grab happy as in original NG3 but do grab occasionally, telegraphing it with a red mist on their hands. Similarly enemies do unblockable attacks, telegraphed with a darker type of red mist. So as you fight the normal enemies everything feels like business as usual in the Ninja Gaiden universe, and people who’ve played original NG3 will notice the changes in AI intensity and flow of combat. However what seems to be smooth sailing is rudely interrupted by the final section of Ryu’s part of the demo when suddenly you’re not only confronted with a large amount of different enemies, including normal soldiers, dual-wield knife commandoes and RPG soldiers posted in high places, you later come into contact with the one enemy type that makes that level choice a good one for showcasing difficulty. I won’t ruin anything about the enemies, as this isn’t a tutorial or full explanation, but I will say this; to anyone who fought the monks in original NG3, forget EVERYTHING about how you knew how to fight them, cause this game is something else.
Y’know when I said this game is hard? And y’know how that time says 12:17? It’s BULLCRAP. And you know why? Because that presumably measures your completion time but not your total time spent playing the level, cause honestly I died more in that one last section against the monks than in the ENTIRE of original NG3. I’ll tell you what though it was all kinds of EMOTIONAL and despite how genuinely difficult the game is I was in love with it straight away, marvelling at it’s level of detail and depth in the combat and weapons, and kept on the edge of my seat by the difficulty. I then decided to hop into Ayane’s part of the demo where you play her in Paris, using her twin blades and explosive kunai. After being treated to a simple but visually stimulating cutscene involving Ayane and a bath towel (yeah, it’s still Team Ninja, you know what is =]) you immediately jump into the city streets to start hacking your way through a variety of enemies. She’s pretty fast and fluid, with alot of flashy combos and finishers though she was a bit too all over the place when it came down to the parts where I’d want to be more precise, and if you think her part of the demo is easier cause she’s fast and she kills enemies pretty easily when you reach the last section of her part of the demo suddenly you remember you’re playing Ninja Gaiden. I won’t ruin the surprise, but just like Ryu’s final section it’s going to take a lot of thinking on your feet and strategy. It’s very hard, trust me, but it’s definitely possible. Once you figure out the solution to her final section it’ll go much smoother, even smoother than Ryu’s final section in a way.
So after a job well done and a break to catch my breath (yes it’s that intense) I sat back and felt satisfied at how the game’s shaping up now that it’s coming to Xbox, or coming back to Xbox I suppose. Interestingly enough there’s a challenge mode where you can play either Ryu’s level or Ayane’s level with either character, allowing you to test out their weapons and skills on the other enemies. It’s pretty fun and you’ll find it either easier or harder to deal with some of the enemy types with each character, cause without going into chapter and verse about it I was genuinely quite frustrated about how inefficient Ayane’s weapons were with dealing with the monks in Ryu’s final section. Ryu on the other hands plays Ayane’s level pretty well regardless of what weapon you use. Apparently you can unlock Kasumi in the demo but I’m yet to do so; I’m not particularly sure how you unlock her and I haven’t checked online, but presumably it involves getting good grades on the challenge levels or completing the levels on hard with either or both characters. Mind you, I am NOT going to be attempting this any time soon cause NG3:RE is pretty fricking ridiculous already and were it not for the monks I may have considered doing it. Funnily enough if you die enough times, and you probably might, the game will come up with a screen that says ‘Rise Again’ and it suggests you switch to Hero mode (the easy mode of the game, as Normal is default and pretty hard), which is kind of patronizing if you ask me!! I’ll check online later to see what the unlock conditions are for Kasumi and I’ll give it a go if its within my ability.
If there’s one thing that needs to be said about NG3:RE from this demo it’s that Ninja Gaiden 3 has redeemed itself and should definitely be considered as a normal legit NG game, and a good one at that. Awesome graphics, great weapons, sick executions and combos and challenging enemies that require skills and precision to defeat. I’ll definitely be looking to buy this when it comes out, as it’s going to be discount price, specifically ShopTo is selling it for only £25!! If you were disappointed by the original NG3’s depth or difficulty then you can’t go wrong with at least trying this demo out, cause it won’t disappoint. In fact, fans of the Ninja Gaiden series, hack n slash games and fans of tough action games overall should give this demo a go. I personally can’t wait till it comes out and I think it’s a really awesome game, giving me the experience of intensity and demanding challenge that I haven’t had in a while.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is coming out on Xbox 360 and PS3 on the 5th of April in the UK and Europe.