Back only 3 months after the WiiU version that came itself 9 months later to correct the PS3/360 Ninja Gaiden 3, this PS3/360 Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge now comes to correct the fact that the aforementioned corrective version wasn’t running on the right system.
I haven’t played the original Ninja Gaiden 3 so I’ll compare only to Ninja Gaiden Σ2 (NGΣ2). In terms of graphics, the game is still above average, particularly in character modeling. The visual effects in Razor’s Edge are far more spectacular than in NGΣ2, first because there are many more of them, and secondly, thanks to return of the dismemberments and the rivers of blood that made the legend of the series. It’s also faster, more fluent and ever better animated than before. I can’t help being impressed despite some aliasing here and there, and my eyes enjoy every second of it.
Razor’s Edge is based on the already excellent gameplay of NGΣ2. Rapid blocking/countering are once more the key to victory, as well as the Ultimate/Obliteration technique and the Izuna Drop. Numerous surprises were added to make it richer : The Falcon Dive, the Blood Rage (basically a faster Ultimate technique) and the Steel on Bone (a mix between Ultimate and Oblteration technique). The gameplay never fails to entertain, all the more that several weapons plus Ayane, Momiji and Kasumi add different play styles. In any case, heated combat provides exhilarating sensations like games seldom do. There’s really little to complain about in that department, but the camera does take weird angles time to time, so that you lose your character in the brawl.
The difficulty is the snag in Razor’s Edge. I do understand that the whole point was to make it harder than Ninja Gaiden 3, but THAT is extremely brutal for anyone not who isn’t familiar with the series. I miss the Acolyte mode of NGΣ2, which had a perfect balance between challenge and accessibility for newcomers. Instead of that Team Ninja has implemented a Hero mode. It doesn’t correspond to an easy mode : it’s actually the normal mode with assisted gameplay, by which the game helps you block and dodge. As I am weak and wanted to unlock Kasumi ASAP, I threw my pride away and switched to that mode after losing 15 times against the T-Rex. By counting the number of assists, it turned out I would have died approximately 37 times during that fight : my chances to beat that boss in normal mode were essentially zero. Let’s point out that after more experimentation, the Hero made makes you evade 99,99% of attacks when your life is low… let me get this straight. NO! Replacing the player by an A.I is NOT a solution to poor difficulty settings. True, I later succeeded in beating the dinosaur with Momiji, and such a merciless fight did feel great. Overcoming the difficulty is part of the pleasure provided by Razor’s Edge so I don’t want to reject it entirely, but some bosses are hopeless.
It’s really too bad because the story has been handled with care. The plot, while not outstanding, has some sense of grandeur and is definitely more interesting than NGΣ2’s. The direction is convincing, characters arouse sympathy and the action is non-stop and varied at the same time. A story mode quite short (5-6h) but intense.
But Razor’s Edge has much more to offer. Ninja Trials, similar to NGΣ2 team missions, are also more difficult than before but more always enjoyable since you side with another online player. There are dozens of them, divided in various difficulty settings and you can choose any of the 5 characters (including the unknown Ninja fully customizable). It’s a shame you can’t be assisted by an A.I. character in solo missions, because even the simplest one are tricky to complete alone. The Clan Battle mode however, in which players face one another in team deathmatches, felt a bit disorganized. The game adds a progression system by which your character can learn new moves and become progressively more efficient in battle. This fits perfectly in the Chapter Challenge mode that make the girls playable in the main story and it’s a real joy to make them stronger so as to achieve what had seemed impossible until then.
Had its normal mode been really normal, Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge just would have become the perfect BTA. Its dream-like gameplay is endless delight, it’s richer that any game in the field, and its stunning presentation as well as its charming heroines, directly make it one of the best in history.