It seems that 2013 is starting to become a good year to be a ninja. First the release of Ninja Gaiden 2 Sigma Plus, Metal Gear Rising Revengance and now Ninja Gaiden 3.
If you’re thinking “Wait, Ninja Gaiden 3 came out last year though”, well you're right. You see Ninja Gaiden 3 was also supposed to come out for the Wii U as well. But for some reason it was pushed back and was given the subtitle Razor’s Edge. It was to be an exclusive for the Wii U, but after hearing complaints from fans that already had the game for the PS3 and 360, Team Ninja also re-released the game on the two platforms as well. Did Razor’s Edge add enough content to warrant a disc re-release or is it just repackaging of last year’s game?
Enhanced Update of Last Year’s Game - While the game remains visually the same, there were several enhancements made for Razor’s Edge. One of them, and the most visually prominent, is the return of the bloody decapitations and body/limb dismemberment. Sure NG3 had plenty of blood that spewed out of fallen enemies, but the kill decapitations and dismemberments were noticeably absent. Team Ninja thought that people did not want to see that any more so they left it out. Apparently that wasn’t the case. In addition to the dismemberment, various moves were tweaked, the difficulty ramped up even more, and adds in two playable characters and new weapons, both of which be explained further upon in a bit. Having these changes and tweaks made makes the game feel more complete. One can’t help but wonder why this wasn’t added in the first time around.
Weapons Added Back In - Back to the topic of dismembering and beheading enemies, Team Ninja added back in a few weapons from previous games. Making a return is the Lunar Staff, which was first seen in the Ninja Gaiden reboot. Another returning fan-favorite weapon that makes a comeback is the Kusari-Gama, aka the chain sickle. First seen in Ninja Gaiden II, this weapon is hard to control during battle but once it has been mastered, think of it as a ninja lawnmower of death. Lastly, and personal favorite, is the Dual Katanas, better known as Dragon’s Claw and Tiger’s Fang. When Ryu equips these, he becomes an unstoppable death blender slicing, dicing and slap chopping anything in his path. He later upgrades these two katanas, but Dragon’s Claw and Tiger’s Fang were the two I mostly used.
Ninja Team Battles - The best part in any movie about ninjas or that has ninjas, is the ninja clan battle. Just imagine about a dozen or so ninjas in a small area dueling to the death to see which clan would come out on top. Razor’s Edge gives gamers something that has been asked for since online multiplayer came to be: ninja clan battles. Seeing an 8 on 8 ninja death match is quite the spectacle. What makes the fighting fun and frantic is that both teams are put together in a small confined space and fight to the death throwing shuriken, fighting with weapons, and even using ninpo magic. Its chaotic, frenzied and a whole lot of fun.
A Couple of DOA Cameos - The two fan-favorite kunoichi from the fighting game series DOA make a guest appearance as playable characters with their own specific stages. Ayane and Kasumi's movessets are based off their moves in DOA and each have their own small part to play in the overall story.
Online Co-op - Along with Momoji, Ayane and Kasumi can join Ryu for online co-op. These co-op missions include story missions altered for co-op, challenge missions and missions made specifically for co-op. Each of the girls have a different fighting style than Ryu and have their own sets of weapons they can use. So now killing waves and waves of enemies doesn't have to be a solo experience.
Challenges - A common complaint about NG3 was that it was to linear and repetitive. To break up that, Team Ninja added in different challenges. First there are the Chapter Challenges which serves as the game’s time/score attack modes. There are the crystal skull challenges. These skulls are found throughout the game in different levels. When found, they transport Ryu to a challenge arena. These challenges range from survival, time attacks and other objectives that will challenge player’s skills. There are also golden scarabs hidden around different levels in the game, Ryu can find these and exchange them for upgrades.
NINJA DOG CHOW
Story Still Doesn’t Make Sense - While the first two Ninja Gaiden games were all about slicing and dicing anything that dares get in your way, they both has some sense of a story. It was outrageous and pretty crazy but what do you expect when the main character is a ninja that is killing other ninjas and the demons that they have summoned. The first one was about an evil clan getting revenge on Ryu’s clan because of his father’s past with said evil clan, i.e. putting a stop to them. The second game continues where the first left off, but this time said evil clan recruits some help and summons demons. For Ninja Gaiden 3 a terrorist group blows up London for some reason and declares that if the other nations doesn’t submit to his will in seven days then he will bring about the annihilation of the world. I'm sorry but...what?? Since when did Ryu become James Bond?
Should Have Been DLC - I understand that games get re-released for various reasons. Two of the most common reasons that I know of is the Game of the Year edition that comes with the DLC that was released over the previous year and fighting games that get complete roster patches. Even then, these reasons also give a digital download option, aka DLC. Razor’s Edge, at its core, is the same game that was released last year, just with improvements and added content. While it’s priced at $39.99, I think that it should have been DLC at an adequate price since the gameplay hasn’t changed significantly to warrant the $40 price tag.
If Ninja Gaiden 3 is considered like a summer blockbuster, then Razor’s Edge is the re-released version of the summer blockbuster, but with new scenes and quite possibly is now in 3D. The re-release touches up the problems the first had, all the while adding extra/new content that was cut the first time around. Though things may have been fix, some problems will still remained unchanged and may or may not affect the overall experience.
That’s how Razor’s Edge feels in the end, it adds in new content that was cut from the first version, while yet keeping some of the same problems. In Razor’s Edge case, the experience remains the while adding new features to try to spice things up. Getting new characters to use in co-op missions and time trailers changes things up, as well as the addition of weapons from previous games. While some say that killing waves of waves of enemies is a bit repetitive (this is a Ninja Gaiden game after all, what do you expect) Skull challenges and hidden scarabs gives some variety.
My favorite part of the game is the all-out Ninja Clan multiplayer battles. Seeing 16 ninjas in a confined space slicing each other in close quarters is quite fun. It’s a big improvement from last year’s version, but things like it being a retail release instead of DLC and a still nonsensical story still hold it back. If you’re looking for extreme ninja killing mindless action, Razor’s Edge is not a bad way to spend your money, that is unless your money was already used to buy Ninja Gaiden 3.
*This review was based on the PS3 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*