Eurogamer Expo 2011: Ninja Gaiden 3 hands-on
My Ninja Gaiden 3 experience began with Ryu Hayabusa jumping off a rain-soaked building in London, then floating down into the midst of a four-strong gang of thugs. After a quick button-prompt, I latched onto, twisted and then impaled my foe in a bloodthirsty display before racing into the rest of the gang and hacking away. As with the previous titles, Ryu’s offense is comprised of light, fast attacks and slower heavier ones which can be linked together rapidly to perform devastating chain-combos.
The combat is extremely violent, with blood splatters filling the screen and vicious sound effects assaulting the senses. It’s quite possible to carry on slashing at an opponent’s corpse long after they’ve perished, keeping their body from falling to the ground with every unnecessary attack. As I proceeded, I was assailed by more, increasingly well-armed, gang-members and although button-mashing got me through initially, I soon had to utilize blocks with jumping and sliding attacks to get through some deadly situations. With every kill made, Ryu is able to absorb energy and gradually charge up special/ultimate attacks (indicated by his arm glowing red) that will either take out multiple opponents in stunning fashion or, if you need something really special, summon a fire-made dragon for a brief flight around the arena that will leave enemies terrified and discombobulated.
In all the carnage and hyper-kinetic action, it’s quite easy to become confused as to which direction you were going in, but helpfully, hitting R3 points you in the correct direction. After dealing with an array of RPG-wielding heavies, I was presented with the game’s first boss: a giant robotic arachnid with under-slung rocket-launchers. This section required deft movement and timing, as Ryu must dodge volleys of explosions from the pursuing spider-bot as London is blasted apart. Things then briefly returned to normal after this, with a bit of stealth-based action featuring a demonstration of the new climbing mechanic, where Ryu sticks his Kunai into walls in order to scale them. Then, the metallic death-dealer finally tracked me down for a proper showdown. This proved to be a good challenge, and the time-honoured boss-battle tradition of ‘hit the weak areas and run’ tactic proved to be effective as the hands-on came to an end.
This was a strong introductory section of the game and although it did become repetitive in places, it felt like a massive improvement on the previous game in terms of graphics and gameplay. One small area in particular that was vital, is the humanisation of the foes by giving them voices – so that it actually feels like you’re taking on human opponents rather than an endless herd of clones. It will certainly be interesting to see how the game’s compatibility with Move and Wii-U holds up and more importantly, whether it will turn legions of gamers into maniacal swordsmen.