Ninja Gaiden 3 on Xbox 360 and PS3 didn’t exactly receive the best of reactions from gamers and critics last year so why you ask yourself be excited for another version on Wii U? Much like a screen tested movie that has seen adjustments based on audience feedback, Razor’s Edge looks at the mistakes made in the previous versions, listens to its fans and makes the necessary changes to produce a far better product. But just how much better are things this time around?
The story of Razor’s Edge involves Ryu being dragged into a battle against a super powerful, mysterious faction known as the Lords of Alchemy that is determined to rule, or destroy, the world. Working with a Japanese defense agency, Ryu travels to a variety of locations around the globe slicing and dicing a huge number of enemies in the process. If that wasn’t bad enough Ryu finds himself cursed with the “Grip of Murder” on his right arm that constantly feeds on the deaths of others, and will kill him if does not comply with it.
Gameplay is frantic and fast paced, not to mention filled with a wealth of violence. Fans will be pleased to know that limbs can be severed and the red stuff flows aplenty. Already things are looking up for Razor’s Edge.
Ryu is quick to respond and his assortment of weapons (now upgraded from the single Dragon Sword in the previous versions) offer a nice variety of combat styles from the slower paced Scythe to the lightening quick slashes of his Wolverine-like claws. As you play, you’ll earn points for your Karma Counter from battling more stylishly whether it be with longer combos or taking fewer hits from enemies. These can then be used to unlock more moves, abilities and weapon upgrades making you even deadlier to your opponents. It’s a neat system and one that encourages experimentation and focus. Combat itself is fun, however there are times when repetition can set in especially when battling what seems like a never-ending series of enemy waves. It’s also worth noting that this game is no cake walk. In keeping with the Ninja Gaiden spirit of old, the difficulty curve quickly ramps up leaving little room for error amidst battle. Bosses for example are a true challenge of sanity taking up a good chunk of my playtime as I constantly found myself getting battered. Even latter stages had me gritting my teeth. That isn’t to say Ninja Gaiden is totally unfair. It isn’t too often you find yourself blaming the game but rather thinking to yourself “I could have done that better?” or “I shouldn’t have done that.”
Exceptions can occur when for example animations don’t cancel as quick as you’d like, a pain especially for a game as fast paced as Ninja Gaiden 3. The camera too can often prove a little frustrating struggling to keep up with the action on screen and when combined with a lock-on system that can feel like it has a mind of its own there’s always a fear controls may be thrown. Quick time events also make an appearance a little too often too often hindering the pace of the game rather than helping it.
In terms of control, the Wii U gamepad does a good job although not the best. It’s the Pro Controller that offers the best scheme so if you have one I’d opt for that instead. Gamepad features feel slightly irrelevant most of the time being relegated to a moves list.
The addition of Ayane is an added bonus providing her with her own specific missions in Razor’s Edge. Her faster, flexible play style also serves as a refreshing break from Ryu’s mainline quest helping to keep things from merely being too samey.
Visually Razor’s Edge looks decent boasting a (mostly) solid frame rate that runs smoothly even during some the game’s most heated and hectic moments. While many have argued the game looks worse than the PS3 or Xbox 360 version, you’ll be hard pressed to linger too much on the odd jaggy or ugly texture when you have blood spurting and spraying all over the place.
Online multiplayer is short on options but offers an okay mix of competitive and cooperative. Clan Battles are simply your deathmatch style events seeing two team battle it out over five minutes. Alternatively Ninja Trials sees you and a partner team up taking on waves of enemies together. Woking as a team earns more Karma so it definitely pays to plan your attacks. They’re an okay distraction but nothing that’s going to surprise you.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is definitely an improvement over its Xbox 360 and PS3 counterparts. Problems still persist that hold the game back, however with Wii U releases few and far between at the moment Razor’s Edge is a decent enough package to recommend to new investors of the console at least until Rayman or Pikmin show up.