If ninjas are supposed to be shadowy, silent assassins then clearly the creators of Ninja Gaiden 3 weren’t paying any attention in history class. For Ninja Gaiden 3, the latest in this enduring series of ninja action games that date back to the 80s, has little time for sneaking ‘em up.
Instead it’s a thrilling hack ‘em up defined by glorious yet very bloody swordplay, over-the-top boss battles and the insane acrobatics of the hero, Ryu Hayabusa.
The game starts with Ryu leaping off Big Ben (yep, that Big Ben) and straight into a battle with dozens of armed terrorists, and it rarely pauses for breath after that. In fact, it only gets more and more explosive, deadly and wild.
The action is a whirlwind of sword strikes, flips, jumps, slides and angry, fiery ninja magic. It looks and feels fantastic throughout, not just during the scripted God of War-style button pressing moments. The fast cutting camera, the blistering pace and the swarms of enemies make this a game that will pummel anyone without lightning reflexes.
As with previous Ninja Gaidens, the standard modes are rarely kind to the player and that’s part of appeal – the pressure forcing players to hone their virtual ninja skills to perfection.
But there’s an olive branch to the less skilled this time round in the form of the Hero mode, where blocking happens automatically leaving you to concentrate on slicing and dicing the enemy like you’re making sushi on MasterChef.
Beyond the nimble comic book spectacular of the story there are two online multiplayer modes. The first is Clan Battle, a team deathmatch for up to eight players enlivened by some backstabbing, while the other is Ninja Trials, a co-op challenge mode.
Variety isn’t Ninja Gaiden 3’s strongest point, though, but when the action is this furious and heart pumping it’s easy to be thankful that the developers were too busy daydreaming to listen in class.