Ninja Blade – Reviewed – XBox 360

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Nick recently commented on how Ninja Blade’s gameplay looked all to familiar… I now believe that his re-enactment of the brainstorming session behind Ninja Blade was quite correct. So off the bat, let me just say, that even though this looks like a God of War clone merged with a dash of Ninja Gaiden, that there are so much more to it… wait… that’s a blatant lie. Ninja Blade seriously is a God of War clone, but instead of being a steroid pumping Spartan you are a full-on Ninja… with a clan and everything. But even though the developers took a lot of direction from both the previous mentioned games, the game is still a lot of fun. Hopefully I’ve got you intrigued, read more to find out why it’s fun.

Ichi, ni, san

Ninja Blade is an action adventure game set within a modern day Tokyo. Parasites known as alpha-worms have mysteriously appeared, mutating any being and unleashing a wave of destruction as they rapidly spread east, reaching the shores of Tokyo. With the future of humankind hanging in the balance, an exclusive and elite team possessing highly specialized skills is formed to eliminate the enemy onslaught, and ultimately save mankind from complete obliteration.

In walks our hero, Ken Ogawa, a modern day ninja and as is the norm in action adventure games, it’s up to this lone-ninjaman to save the day. The story begins with you jumping out of an airplane and freefalling into Tokyo. It would seem that a few years ago a mysterious parasite was discovered that upon infection would mutate it’s host into something quite horrific. And it seems the only real way to fight them (apart from a nuclear warhead), is by using a crack team of elite ninjas.

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Ken was the cause of splitting headaches

Each mission is played out is a similar manner. You usually have to track down some high level carrier (the level of infection of a being is rated.  Level 1 being your run-of-the-mill grunt to a level 5, which could be anything… like a huge-ass slug, as big as a 70 storey building) and destroy it. Along the way you fight various different types of mutated beings and every level has some sort of mini-boss (or two). Each boss battle, be it a mini-boss or the final-boss of the mission, usually pans out using the same strategy. You have to figure out how what the weak points are of the specific boss. Figure out which weapon (more of that later) works the best on it, beat it down to a pulp and then do a Todomé on it. The Todomé is the quick time event that is used to kill the monster.

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B-rated Ninja Movie

The whole game plays out like a B-rated movie… which I’m sure was From Software’s whole point. Some of the Todomé’s just shouts tongue-in-cheek fun. Another good example of this is the unlocks. As you move through the missions, hidden away are other costumes & emblems. The costume’s themselves are a good indication why I’m toting a B-movie thing. Of all the ones I unlock, there was among others a “Clown Costume”, a “Heart Costume”, a “Evil Costume” (which wasn’t really evil at all)… all of which were quite bright and peppy costumes.

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Most of his moves were taught to him by a break-dance master

You also have an a array of weapons, each of which can be upgraded using Blood Stones collected when killing a monster. Each weapon can be upgraded to level 4 and with each new upgrade you unlock new moves, a new look and increase the power of the weapon. There are 3 types of swords to upgrade and a ninjutsu (basically a shuriken… or ninja star) with 4 different elemental types.

At the start of the game there are 2 different difficulty settings, Normal & Hard. And just like Ninja Gaiden, even the Normal isn’t quite… well… normal. If, like me, your Jujustsu isn’t up to scratch an Easy difficulty is unlocked after dying a certain amount of times. The only big issue I have with this is that even though the Normal difficulty is quite challenging, the Easy is just to damn easy. The jump between the two are quite big and From Software should have added another difficulty setting between the two.

I want to talk about the quick time events (QTE) in a separate area. The one thing that is predominant in the game are the QTE’s. First off, I have no real issues with them… I know a lot of people hate them like the plague. The problem that I have with them in this game is two-fold. Firstly, they happen way to often. Boss battles aren’t the only place that they are initiated… falling of a building? Need to recover? Press A to use your weapon to recover… and wait… then press left on the analog stick to dodge the pillar… then press X to break through the wall… then press A to land. Secondly, the way it shows which button to press wasn’t helpful. I know this will probably only bother a handful of people but the button is shown at an angle. As such you can’t really see easily which button it is to press… and with me being colour-blind, the colour is of no help. I had to re-do some of these events quite a few times (and doesn’t help that some of the button presses changes with each try).

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B-movie rocket surfing… the only way real men surfs

Conclusion

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With all of that being said, even though the QTE’s frustrated me from time to time and even though the difficulty settings were a bit whack, I’ll admit I thoroughly enjoyed this game. If you liked either God of War or Ninja Gaiden and want something less serious, then I would recommend getting this game.

Scoring

Gameplay: 7.5
The battles in this game is epic, but the over-use quick time events brings this down a bit… it’s just used to much

Presentation: 8.5
The graphics are quite excellent, monsters and huge creatures are modeled well. No slowdown experienced while playing.

Sound: 8.0
The sound is top notch and the voice acting is quite good

Value: 7.5
9 missions, averaging about an hour each. Works out to about 10 hours worth of gameplay. But no real re-play value except if you want to try a higher difficulty.

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Overall: 7.8

Even though this is a clone of 2 very popular games, the game itself is still a lot of fun.

Last Updated: March 24, 2009

  • Gonna give our staff copy a go later today, I am interested to see what it plays like. I liked God of War and I like Ninja Gaiden, so even if it is some sort of horrible clone, it could be ok.

  • I wouldn’t mind a go when you’re done 😛

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