They say the third time is usually the charm. With Tecmo KOEI and Team Ninja, that sentiment couldn’t be more accurate when discussing the third entry in the Ninja Gaiden series. Ninja Gaiden 3 was originally released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 last year to lackluster reviews and commercial disappointment. The Wii U then launched with an improved version of the title dubbed Razor’s Edge this past November, which remedied a good amount of the issues. Now Team Ninja is delivering a third iteration, once again on 360/PS3, with the same subtitle. The real question remains; does anyone still care about Ninja Gaiden 3?
If you would like to check out our original review of Ninja Gaiden 3 for 360/PS3, click here. We did not receive review copies of the Wii U version, so we will be breaking down all of what makes Razor’s Edge unique within this review.
One of the biggest changes Razor’s Edge brings is an interwoven campaign featuring Ayane. Throughout the core game, her missions will crop up allowing players to wield the deadly blades of the purple-haired ninja. Her missions are spread out evenly through the experience, giving players a nice break from slicing and dicing as Hayabusa. The story also accounts for this; though don’t expect any revolutionary plot development. The narrative is still as ridiculous as the original game.
The new playable characters don’t stop there. Momiji and Kasumi join Ryu and Ayane in both the Chapter Challenge and Ninja Trials sections of the game. Everyone also enjoys a plethora of new costumes for this version, giving fans plenty of customization options. The three girls also get their own weapons and play styles within these modes, although only Ayane has the privilege of being a full-featured character in the campaign mode.
The new Chapter Challenge was one of my favorite parts of Razor’s Edge. This allows players to revisit any of the ten chapters found in the game, with any of the four playable characters. Competing for high scores was a blast, and discovering how the different play styles weave into the combat kept me coming back for hours on end. It also helped that the combat system has been beefed up for this version.
One of the strongest criticisms of the original Ninja Gaiden 3 was the combat. It felt like Team Ninja had really dialed back the difficulty, along with the gore. Razor’s Edge remedies all of that by re-introducing dismemberment and upping the challenge on every difficulty outside of Hero mode. Combat also feels more refined, giving players less of a window for failure, thus making encounters much more satisfying when successful. As I mentioned, Hero mode is still present, so those turned off by the insane difficulty can still play without fear of dying every five seconds.
The other major draw to Razor’s Edge is its immense selection of content. The Ninja Trials have been tripled, bringing their tally up to 100 missions. All the DLC from the original game is packed onto the disc (or download on PSN) and there are five new stages specifically for clan battles. It is almost too much to keep track of. I was constantly discovering new features and items that made this the most packed iteration in the series to date.
It was a huge disappointment for me when the original Ninja Gaiden 3 turned out the way it did. It appears that Team Ninja has taken that to heart, and managed to finally craft the game that should have been released in the first place. It is a hard pill to swallow thinking that original 360/PS3 owners were more beta testers than anything else. Still, getting past that, I can wholeheartedly recommend Razor’s Edge to fans of the series. This is by far the game that should have been released originally, and even while the giant T-Rex fight is still ridiculous, I had a ton of fun slicing enemies in half as the original ninja warrior.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PlayStation 3.