Series fans will be surprised at how talky Ryu and friends are. It's not to the point where I think he'd ninja off to the mall foodcourt to gossip with his girlfriends, but the chatter ever-present, and markedly different than what fans are used to. In his journey in this early code through London and later Dubai, he flaps his yap in cutscenes, in between battles, and even as he moves through these locales. Sometimes he's talking to himself, others he's chatting with a remote agent via headset, and in one scene he blows off his blue-haired student, Ayane. But, for as talky as he is, know that Ryu hasn't lost that dark killer vibe. Some of the talk is directive, helping Ryu set a path through these levels, but most of it is story development, as Team Ninja is focused on telling you a real story this time around. It's a bit too early to know where the story is going, but take comfort in knowing that scenario writer Masato Kato has been brought on board to help with that. You've seen Kato's work in the original Ninja Gaiden, as well as in Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VII. I don't mind that Ryu thinks about his killing a bit more now, and that there's a deeper narrative this time around, but I hope they don't make him soft. We love Ninja Gaiden because Ryu is a badass killer. I hope he stays that way. When Ryu isn't running his mouth, he's cutting **** and it's...it's glorious! Coming off working on reviews of multiple Japanese role-playing games, playing Ninja Gaiden 3 is like a well-deserved, bloody vacation. Thrashing buttons to jam swords into flesh has never felt so good, and it also looks pretty fantastic with the dark red sprays of blood fountaining up from piles of still-standing victims that should have been dead a long time ago. It only took about three minutes of play for me to find myself laughing maniacally at my ridiculously long-lasting chains of kills. The game's new cinematic kills only served to increase the volume of my laughing as they zoom in on the action and prompt you with what button you should be mashing to make your kills even more gory. The game eased me into the killing with fewer enemies that were just asking to be cut up and juggled, but quickly moved me into situations where I was surrounded on all sides by soldiers, gunmen, guys with swords, other ninja, and even **** with rocket launchers. In those times I couldn't cut fast enough, which let me know that the developers have not forgot their roots. As always, combat centers being able to quickly attack and watch your back to evade or block at the same time, mixing up the two to make it through bouts of relentless attacks. Feels good, man. Of course, it's not all cutting. Later in the game, escalating the challenge, Ryu gets a crossbow that has the player trying to pick off distant attackers while watching his back. Another new weapon, Ryu's cursed arm, builds up attack power from consecutive kills. When it glows red it can be charged up for an ultimate attack that kills all surrounding enemies in one hit. Finally, ninja magic is a bit different this time around. In the only example the demo provided, kills fill up a Ninpo meter that will let you unleash a flaming dragon into the sky to burn all enemies and fill your lifebar back up at the same time. It's still early, but Ninja Gaiden 3 is on the right track. The game is looking great, with a liquid smooth frame rate and some slick lighting. The camera needs more polish in tight areas, but it shows promise in the open ones. It is still too early to make a call on where the story is headed, but there's hints of something interesting brewing with Ryu's cursed arm and his occasional hesitance to kill. Yes, Ryu talks more and now seems to at least give pause before killing some people, but the action fans love is still in there
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