Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge Review
It's been just over a year since Ninja Gaiden 3 left me awash in despair. The series I've followed since I was a child of the 80's let me down for the second time ever (the first time was when Ninja Gaiden Black added a controllable camera and killed the fun). To put it as plainly as I can, I have to say the game just sucked. It didn't live up to the Ninja Gaiden pedigree and it wasn't even a decent action game independent of the franchise. You can read my original review right here. Team Ninja took another stab at the game with the then-Wii U exclusive Ninja Gaiden: Razor's Edge. Jump a few months into the future and the game is available on the PS3 and Xbox 360. I personally never played Razor's Edge until now, and what Team Ninja managed to do with a totally broken title is pretty good, if not still wholly underwhelming.
Rather than go through everything from the first review a second time, let's skip right into what has been worked on and how the game has changed because of those instances. The most refreshing omission (yes, omission) is the dismemberment system. The PR push behind Ninja Gaiden 3 was giving the player the feeling of what it is like to chop through another human being. What that ended up translating into was a stupid button-mashing annoyance that crippled the flow of nearly every enemy encounter. Razor's Edge takes this right out and automates the process, meaning you still get the bloody visual feast, only without sacrificing the speed of battle and your patience to continually mash your controller into oblivion.
The other major change comes in the form of Ayane, a new playable character woven into the story much like the Sigma games' Rachel. Ninja Gaiden's story mode wasn't really short by any stretch, but Ayane's levels pad things out even further. She is a nice change of pace from how Ryu plays, and her plotline interacts nicely with Ryu's across the entire adventure. The only real drawback I can think of is that Ayanes's story is supposed to augment the existing one. It doesn't; the main plot of Ninja Gaiden 3 makes no sense whatsoever, so adding to it is an impossibility. It's kind of like trying to put out a house fire with a flamethrower; it doesn't make things better or worse, it just layers insanity on insanity.
Everything else in this new package feels like give and take. This new version tows the line with the unnecessary and absolutely ridiculous eight-player multiplayer mode I hated in the original, but it includes all that previously available DLC for free. It also includes a trials mode with 200 challenges of varying rip-your-hair-out frustration, but the camera and frame rate don't seem to have been touched at all. For every positive in Razor's Edge, there is a negative. There is a metaphor in there somewhere, I'm sure.
For me, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge feels like an improvement, but not enough of one. Most of the stuff that made the original Ninja Gaiden 3 so blah remains either untouched or reworked, but not to a complete enough degree. This isn't the drastic upshift in quality represented by the jump from Ninja Gaiden 2 to Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, but it is enough of one to make the game at least worth looking at by longtime series fans like myself. If Ninja Gaiden 3 was a outlook-crushing disappointment of a game, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge is an OK title that can't quite live up to the series that it comes from.
Final Rating: 70%. They took the bad out of Ninja Gaiden 3 and improved the game to "just OK".