Ninja Gaiden 3:Razor’s Edge Review: Sharp Enough to Cut Away Bad Memories
When Ninja Gaiden 3 first came out last year, it didn’t get the usual reception. People were polarized; while some enjoyed the crazy story and the somewhat toned down violence, others had major issues with the lack of control and the inability to use some of Ryu’s better weapons. Then, in November, Tecmo Koei released a director’s cut that was supposed to fix the problems. This release, on the Wii U, did improve many of the issues (like limbs flying) but there were still reports of problems with the camera and graphics.
Apparently a good ninja never gives up, because Razor’s Edge is making a comeback on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. And have they improved upon it? The answer is yes, Razor’s Edge version 2013 is a much better product then its previous incarnations, but it still has its issues.
If you’ve stayed away from version 1, 2 and 3 then let me fill you in. We follow Hayabusa as he takes on an evil terrorist who has somehow managed to infect our hero with a strange demonic force. And now, Hayabusa is struggling to not only complete his mission, but control the force that is trying to control him.
The highlight of Razor’s Edge is its combat and things have highly improved in this version. There are new challenge realms included that help ramp up the difficulty and the defense mechanics are greatly improved. Attacking is no longer just stabbing enemies, instead there is real skill needed. Your reflexes need to be on point in order to take down the hordes. Dodging and counter-attacking feel both fluid and intuitive, as the slightest press of the controls has Hayabusa dancing on your screen. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction with knowing that you are making the character move as you wish and that he is following your movements as he hacks and slash his way across the TV.
The story is still just as weird. I’m not sure if I could even explain the crazier aspects, just that at times I paused my game because I just couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing. At one point there was a cybernetic T-Rex, and that’s when I decided to just go with it. And that’s the attitude you need; once you accept that there is no rationality to be had, you can sit back and just embrace the crazy. There are also bonuses like additional costumes and playable characters like DOA’S Kasumi and Ayane. There’s also a giant breasted woman named Momiji, but don’t let that fool you, all the characters have interesting fighting styles that do add a breath of fresh air to your playthrough.
Like I said earlier, the gameplay feels great. It’s just so easy to switch between weapons whenever you want. In fact, I encourage it. Being a ninja is awesome, especially when you see limbs flying when using some of Razor’s Edge’s more powerful weapons.
The graphics are updated from the Wii U version, but it’s not a huge improvement. It has a slightly better frame rate, sharper detail, and less glitches, but you probably won’t notice any major differences. The camera is still an issue, though it has improved. You’ll notice that at times you can’t see what’s happening (when enemies come at you from behind for example), but it’s not enough to ruin the experience. The sound is good, but nothing different from even the first release. The music is still good, and the dialogue is still over the top and fun.
There is a bunch of DLC included, and you’ll get the ones that have already been released as well as an eight-player versus mode. There is also Ninja Trials, where you’ll be able to go through 100 different challenges that you can take on with other characters. Eight player versus is chaotic at best, but a lot of fun with friends. While fun, Ninja Trials can inspire you to rip you hair out, so be careful. Tecmo Koei has also thoughtfully included a Hero mode where you’ll be able go through the game without fear of death. When you get low on health, defensive tactics will kick in, protecting you. So if you’re a newbie, don’t worry: Razor’s Edge has got your back.
Razor’s Edge is a definite improvement over the original. And while not all the problems are solved, they’re more than enough to forgive its flaws. The challenges, the online multiplayer and the gameplay all make Razor’s Edge the game we all deserved. It took a long time, but Razor’s Edge is the game that Ninja Gaiden 3 should have been.
(Note: Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge was reviewed after 25 hours of gameplay on the PlayStation 3. It is also available on the Xbox 360. This copy was purchased by the reviewer.)