Why I couldn’t play more than 1 level of Ninja Gaiden 3
So Ninja Gaiden 3 came out. To a horde of angry gamers who can’t stand it. I still figured I’d give it a chance. I mean, it’s a Ninja Gaiden game, they’re generally at least somewhat enjoyable. Even Sigma 2 was kinda fun even if it was a lot more button-mashy than the first game in the rebooted series. And sometimes I end up liking games no one else likes, so maybe this would be one of those case.
So I rented it, played through a single level, and brought it back. What went wrong? Well, I COULD say “everything”, but I think we need to go into the specifics here.
The first thing that happens
Well you’re not even greeted by a title screen so that’s already dumb. But then the very first thing you do in the game after choosing your difficulty, the very first moment the game should use to impress you… You get a series of bad QTEs. This, my friends, is the sign of a bad game. But I figured that maybe it gets better. This was just a random intro that had no real meaning as far as the actual first level goes story-wise after all.
And then the actual first level, after a mind-blowingly boring cinematic… starts with another QTE sequence! Whoops. Sorry game, you lost all my faith already.
So while I’m here, I’ll talk about those. They’re TERRIBLE here. I mean, QTEs are terrible no matter what, but they stink a lot more than usual here. The game slows to a crawl when a QTE pops out, so it’s impossible to miss them (I should have tried missing one just to see if it was even possible), it doesn’t feel rewarding to get them right, and they just feel badly tacked-on… clearly the programmers put no effort on these whatsoever. QTEs are also integrated within the combat system which is dumb, but I’ll get into that later.
Oh and speaking of QTEs, I found what are probably the worst QTEs ever here. During certain cinematics, the action would just stop completely. Every time it happened in the first level I thought the game froze, but no, you have to press buttons. The game doesn’t tell you though, it just makes it look like nothing’s happening. Who in the development team thought this was a good idea? Either make it a cinematic or don’t you morons!
The most important element in this style of action game is how the fighting is handled. Any action game of the sort that sucks, generally sucks because this part isn’t well done.
Well, forget “not being well done”, Ninja Gaiden 3 without a doubt has the worst fighting engine I’ve ever seen in this style of game. I’ve previously complained about God of War and Castlevania Lords of Shadow being bad because you could mostly mash buttons all the way through them. But at least those games still had the potential to have acceptable fighting systems if the devs put some effort into it, and even had a couple moments where mashing buttons wasn’t the best option. In the case of Ninja Gaiden 3, it’s a lost cause, it would have to be completely remade from the ground up to even be acceptable.
So why does it suck? Let’s put it simply: God of War is strategic in comparison. I’ve never seen a button masher be more button-mashy than this. Combat involves solely mashing buttons, and some of the random buttons will sometimes cause QTEs where you’re invincible. Add to that the fact that most attacks lead to cinematic attacks where you’re completely invincible, there’s never any reason to do anything else than mashing buttons. It makes you almost impossible to hit, and you’ll kill everything. Instead of just dying, the enemies just start stumbling around the area like zombies, until you go and attack them a final time, it’s completely mindless and they never stop until you kill them.
You’d think it would get tougher in boss battles, but not really. The first mini-boss is a big spider-robot-tank that shoots a ton of stuff at you… button mash his legs off and you’re done. The second boss is completely broken and can only be hit at certain moments (otherwise he deals massive damage)… but button-mashing him to death actually works better than trying to avoid his attacks. Go figure.
Remember how Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden 2 (from the reboot series) had a bunch of cool weapons to use? Well, here you get 1 weapon. Epic fail right there. Actually, reading on this it seems there are weapons as free DLC… so… why not just put it in the game? There’s literally no reason to have the weapons as free DLC. Go the classic way of having to find them in the game, how hard was that to do?
It seems the only thing this game doesn’t do completely wrong is not having regenerating health… but it’s not much better. Here, you actually gain meter for a super attack. I’m… actually not sure what that super attack does, every time I’ve used it there was a really crappy cinematic with a dragon, and then all the enemies were gone, but then they’d pop out again so… what? Is it more enemies popping out or did they just run away and come back? But that meter isn’t completely useless. Nah, when you finish a battle, if you somehow got hit, that meter replenishes your health. Add to that a couple moments where a save point appears that completely heal you… there’s no way there’s even a chance you’ll die.
I should have mentioned this in the QTE section, but it’s so bad I’ll mention it on its own. You see, there are walls you have to climb here. Instead of making them minor platforming challenges (like in the previous games), they’re QTEs. You have to jump towards a climbable wall, and then hold L1 and R1. That only latches you on to the wall with kunai, then you have to alternate pressing each button until you get to the top, since Ryu Hayabusa, being a super-badass ninja, has to take a whole minute to climb a wall. Brilliant!
It’s even worse when they start putting guys with rocket launchers on top of the wall to attack you, so you have to throw shuriken to stop them and then kill the guys. If you’re moving at all, you can’t throw a shuriken and you have to start all over again. Fun! (not)
Wow this game is bad. Even after all the bad reviews, it managed to get MUCH lower than my expectations. By much lower I mean… I’d rather play through the whole God of War series than play another level of this shit. In fact, maybe I will someday. Maybe seeing how bad a game of this genre can get when it goes full stupid will give me newfound appreciation for something I thought was the worst, when clearly it can get MUCH worse.
The QTEs are some of the worst I’ve seen, the combat is the worst ever, the cinematics were boring, the wall climbing was dumb, there’s only 1 weapon (sort of)… oh and there’s a button that shows you exactly where to go at all time, so no thought required in that sense ever. The level design is so non-existent that I have nothing to say about it. This game is just terrible. There’s not any reason for anyone to play it. Even the graphics are bad, it’s just a big blob of grey and some characters look straight out of the PS2.
But I should have expected the game to be this bad. After all, before releasing it, all the devs would talk about, rather than the gameplay, was how gory and violent it was… and that’s it. What that meant is that they didn’t want to show the gameplay because they knew it sucked. And it even disappoints in regards to gore… if you want a good action game that’s gory, get Splatterhouse.
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