Ninja Gaiden 3 PS3 review

It’s disappointing to find that, after the narrative starts out so vigorously and sets such a dark tone, it lacks focus throughout. This is a man who kills an unarmed guard in cold blood in the first level, and then is offended that a little girl won’t shake his infected devil-arm minutes later.

The arm’s a manifestation of all the lives he’s ended – providing a central theme – but the grand ideas Ninja Gaiden 3 has about humanity and redemption are undermined by the sequences spent slashing glowing bugs in dark corridors and sending ’copters flailing out of the sky with just your dragon blade. The latter OTT action is awesome, of course, but it jars like hell with the ‘serious’ narrative.

Solo play is as forgettable as it is fun, then, but there’s a razor-sharp silver lining in the form of multiplayer. In deathmatch mode, seasoned players bring that level of difficulty fans will crave – it’s merciless, especially in one-on-ones where invisibility (triggered by moving super-slow) and sneak attacks are key.

With eight players all diligently trying to make sashimi out of each other, the action’s distinctly un-stealthy but every bit as fun, and you’re rewarded with increasingly bizarre customisation options as you hone your skills. Who hasn’t wanted to gut someone dressed as a pink cat? Co-op challenge modes are easily digestible, too, and encourage you to learn the combos (like square, square, square, square – seriously) and be as freakin’ ninja as possible.

It’s certainly a curious outing for the unmasked Ryu, and it’s largely fun even if it doesn’t quite deliver on its grand objectives. It’s hard not to crack a smile when a game lets you take out a spider-tank with a sword, after all – and with a strong online component in tow, this is a dragon worth chasing.

Our Score

Score: 7