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Ninja Blade is pretty sharp

Brad Gallaway's picture

Ninja Blade Screenshot

Dangerously close to RPG overload, I'm proud to say that I put it in high gear and pushed through to the end of Divinity II the other day. I didn't complete the game with 100% (which would actually be an enormously huge amount of content to get through) but I did earn the last few levels I needed to put myself past the insta-death threshold during the final battle and credits rolled. (Look for the full review soon.)

In the meantime, I decided to go in a completely different direction for the last few days prior to Mass Effect 2's release (WOO!) and start getting caught up on my action titles. The first one in the queue was FromSoft's Ninja Blade, and it's a hell of a thing.

Although I've heard some people call it a "poor man's Ninja Gaiden", that's an awfully dismissive and lazy way of describing it. (Especially since Ninja Gaiden SUCKS.) From where I'm standing, Blade is a much more approachable and exciting experience than anything Itagaki's ever turned out, and I will take Ken Ogawa over Ryu Hayabusa any day.

The game takes place in a parasite-infested Japan where evil worms have violated the citizenry and turned them all into various sorts of growling, drippy mutants. Following a bizarre sort of logic, the only force capable of cleansing the country are a group of super-ninjas who take on the biggest and baddest creatures roaming loose. Suffice it to say, this game is not trying to shed light on the human condition or bring any serious issues to the table… it's all about completely insane, extreme balls-out action and unbelievably over-the-top set pieces that explode with adrenaline.

The graphics are fantastic, the action controls well, there's lots of variety and the game also sports lots of little touches that help push it over the top for me… things like being able to completely customize the colors of the main character's costume, the slo-mo flip as he leaps out of a wall-run, and the way From has implemented Quick-Time Events (QTEs) in order to deliver some of the most absurdly awesome action sequences I've ever seen.

Although some may be put off by the number of QTEs, any game that lets me ride a motorcycle in freefall, jump it off of airborne cars and crash it into a flying school bus in order to incinerate the inside of a worm the size of a skyscraper can include as many QTEs as it wants to. I'm not done with Ninja Blade yet, but so far it's a massive, smoking, shuriken-throwing thumbs-up.

Just a couple other quick notes before I sign out for the evening... I got the chance to spend a few minutes with Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes on DS, and from what little I saw, I definitely wanted to see more. I would have, in fact, except that the wife also liked it and immediately laid claim… also, Dark Void was released this week. It's definitely been one of the titles I've been most looking forward to, so the amount of negative reviews it's gotten has been pretty disheartening.

As one of the people I follow on Twitter quipped this morning, hopefully this will be another Bionic Commando situation: most reviewers seem to hate it, but the ones who really know what's up recognize that it's a quality title, and well worth the attention. We hope, anyway…

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360  
Developer(s): From Software  

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Just Curious

Just curious, but are you playing through the 360 or PC version?

Ninja Blade?

Ninja Blade is one of the worst games I played in this console generation.

abfackeln wrote: Ninja

abfackeln wrote:

Ninja Blade is one of the worst games I played in this console generation.

Hence Brad's comparison to Bionic Commando!

Just kidding. ;) I haven't played either game, but something in me really empathizes with people who are willing to stake a claim in what they consider is an underrated game. God knows we all get that feeling about a game from time to time. I remember playing games like One and Project Overkill on the Playstation, seeing them get slammed by critics (although One mysteriously has a 75% rating on GameRankings... odd), and thinking, "Jeez. I thought this was actually a pretty good game."

If nothing else, Brad's take on Ninja Blade will probably force me to give the game a try when it gets to true budget status (under $10).

Abfack> One of the *worst*??

Abfack> One of the *worst*?? Seriously? What's not to love about this game? Great graphics, cool moves, fun, over-the-top premise, completely INSANE large-scale fatalities and action setpieces... this is a win-win-win. As long as you're down with the 'playable action movie' structure, this thing is bad-ass all-around, except maybe for the main character's gimpy facemask.

THAT could go.

the rest is just solid, unadulterated F-U-N.

I thought reviewers were not

I thought reviewers were not allowed to write f-u-n- here. :) From your impressions, it sounds a lot like Bayonetta, and abfack hated the demo, for instance. It's all about mood and taste.

I thought reviewers were not

I thought reviewers were not allowed to write f-u-n here. :) From your impressions, it sounds a lot like Bayonetta, and Abfack hated the demo. So, I get why he didn't like it. It's a matter of mood and taste. Or being a From Software fanboy. Muahahaha! Just kidding, Brad, really. Eurogammer liked the game a lot http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/ninja-blade-review

I didn't enjoy this game at

I didn't enjoy this game at all, but I've been a Ninja Gaiden fan since Tecmo took over. Thank you for insulting my tastes.

I'll give it another

I'll give it another shot.

The QTE were just idiotic in this game.

It didn't play nearly as well as Ninja Gaiden, but I know were you stand on that. :P

Oh, I know that there are worse games out there. I was speaking for games that I have played.

I was kind of looking forward to this game, so I my expectations were a bit high.

CKZ> heh, we're not allowed

CKZ> heh, we're not allowed to use 'fun' as justification for an actual review, but this was a crosspost from my personal blog and just an impressions piece anyway, so I figured i'd let it slide this once. ;)

Abfack> so do you have an issue with QTEs in general, or was it Ninja Blade's specifically that you didn't like?

QTE

More so with Ninja Blade. I don't mind them in God of War or Shenmue.

I watched the video review of Ninja Blade on GameTraliers.com* again and all of the pain of playing Ninja Blade came back to me.

*gave it a 5.9/10

Good effort, poor results

So I haven't checked by this site in a while, and this certainly caught my eye because "Poor Man's Ninja Gaiden" is precisely how I described it. I already went into detail myself as to why I feel that way, but I'll summarize here since I myself recently pushed through this game.

The main sword is practically worthless in comparison to the twin falcon knives. Even then, you have to wait until any weapon is an upgrade or two up for the real fun to unlock. It takes until roughly half the game until you are the combo-factory that you ought to be from the start, which also means it takes half of the game to get to the fun.

A lot of the acrobatics aren't nearly as enjoyable as a game like Ninja Gaiden due to the constant requirement to hold a specific button, not to mention it doesn't always seem to flow well. Granted some of this is going do be because I'm used to how it works in Ninja Gaiden and want it to work the same, but sometimes it felt as if the system just simply didn't want to respond. I'd tell it to jump to the left while wall running and he'd simply drop where he was standing. I've never had such issues with Ninja Gaiden.

However, any time I DID find myself enjoying the game, those damned QTE's ruined it for me. I've never bought into the cinematic garbage, and while Ninja Blade desperately tries to "fix" them, it does a poor job nailing it down. To use an example from the article I linked, imagine having to watch a scene from Star Wars with quick time events. This time let's use Return of the Jedi and the moment Luke has to escape the Sarlaac pit. Whoops! Missed the X button where you're supposed to catch the plank and leap back up. Now you gotta do it again. Whoops! Missed the Y button where you gotta catch the lightsaber. Ok, catch plank, catch lightsaber, and...dammit, got killed by some random asshole. Why can't I just play the game again?

Leave cinematics to film. If you can't think of a way to make it gameplay, then your imagination is way too limited. Cut-scenes are not gameplay, they are an atrocious mechanic.

Now, I'm not saying Ninja Blade is a bad game. It's not. But it's certainly not worth spending money on either. It's a decently entertaining GameFly is all.

QTE clarification

I just wanted to clarify my stance on QTEs.

I don't like QTEs, but my experience with God of War wasn't killed by them because I saw them coming. In a way QTEs fit in GoW okay. At least for me.

I can think of plenty of ways to make the gameplay in GoW better without QTEs and still keep the game as entertaining as it is.

When Shenmue came out QTE was something new and I give that game props for trying a lot of new concepts. The experience wasn't killed by QTEs in Shenmue either.

In Ninja Blade the QTEs were more of a nuisance.

I played the demo to Dark

I played the demo to Dark Void, and while enjoyable, I found the controls to be lacking in playability. I found myself crashing a hell of a lot. Most gamers (especially at gamecritics) note that some games are not meant to be instantly playable, I find it hard to fall into the role of a character you are given if I can barely work the controls. It also reminds me of Bionic Commando, mainly for that same reason. Maybe its because I played the PS3 version of both games, I don't know. I like the concept of both the games however, which is why I played them.

I have not played Ninja Blade yet, so I'm awaiting my chance to play it on someones Xbox 360.

Bionic Commando I don't

Bionic Commando I don't think had bad controls. I found them very tight and workable, once I got the hang of them. There was just something majorly counter-intuitive about letting go of the grab button, falling for a sec, then hitting it again.. my brain and fingers just didn't 'get it' until I did it successfully a few times, and then the gameplay became very absorbing, and satisfying.

RandomRob wrote: Bionic

RandomRob wrote:

Bionic Commando I don't think had bad controls. I found them very tight and workable, once I got the hang of them. There was just something majorly counter-intuitive about letting go of the grab button, falling for a sec, then hitting it again.. my brain and fingers just didn't 'get it' until I did it successfully a few times, and then the gameplay became very absorbing, and satisfying.

I kinda agree with the point you made about 'getting it', it's just for me I never quite 'got it', despite successfully pulling off swings. It could just have been the PS3 Controller, where at one point I had to rearrange the configuration.

I just finished Bionic

I just finished Bionic Commando and it ends with a sequence of QTEs. They're fine, though.

I think the grappling mechanic works ok, I just found the game to be unbalanced. For 30 minutes of spectacular action sequences the player has to put up with 3 or more hours of tedious repetition. I played it on hard and those last checkpoints are a pain. I can't imagine it on Commando mode.

Bionic Commando tangent

If you're considering commando mode, don't. I loved the game so much that I got all the trophies, and commando mode transformed the game into a gimpy, horrendously difficult Gears of War wannabe.

I honestly felt that the game performed the best on Normal mode. It seems like it was very tightly calibrated to that specific difficulty, which would explain why it falls apart to varying degrees on the harder modes.

Funny you say that, Trent,

Funny you say that, Trent, because I remember being like 5 hours into the game and thinking that I should go back and start it on normal mode. I got this habit of starting everything on hard because I find recent games to be too easy. I guess some titles fall apart on harder modes, while others show their best at maximum difficulties, Dead Space on impossible mode being a good example.

Didn't someone not like Bayonetta??..... :P

Before I start....wheres my next gen shadow tower and Kings filed damnit>?!?!?!?!?!!?

Ok so you like this over the top game but not the one with female lead?

Whatever...... it dose look better than Ninja Gaiden tho....NG was ok but it took itself to seriously story wise and not enough game wise....

Mmmmmm Soylent commando was not necessarily bad, the story was and some of the level layout was... the gimmick old school weapons didnt work so well either... I'd rather it be a more polished FPS set in 3rd P than a wonky action shooter with limited exploration.... like most games today(even dragon age) its a half a game a decent concept that is not worked out enough.

ZippyDSMlee wrote: Before I

ZippyDSMlee wrote:

Before I start....wheres my next gen shadow tower and Kings filed damnit>?!?!?!?!?!!?

Your next-gen Shadow Tower/King's Field is called Demon's Souls and it's awesome. = )

ZippyDSMlee wrote:

Ok so you like this over the top game but not the one with female lead?

Not sure who you're asking, but I haven't played Bayonetta yet. No official opinion on that one at this time. ; )

ZippyDSMlee wrote:

Mmmmmm Soylent commando was not necessarily bad, the story was and some of the level layout was... the gimmick old school weapons didnt work so well either... I'd rather it be a more polished FPS set in 3rd P than a wonky action shooter with limited exploration.... like most games today(even dragon age) its a half a game a decent concept that is not worked out enough.

That was the problem with Bionic Commando -- misplaced expectations. It was a faithful translation of the NES formula, it never really attempted to be a 3rd Person Shooter, and guns were never really its focus. tons of games go that route, but BC was all about the arm. ^_^

Brad Gallaway

Brad Gallaway wrote:
ZippyDSMlee wrote:

Before I start....wheres my next gen shadow tower and Kings filed damnit>?!?!?!?!?!!?

Your next-gen Shadow Tower/King's Field is called Demon's Souls and it's awesome. = )

You mean ass cam bastard child....... >> I want my classic wonky FP adventure games damnnit....western stuff has de-evolved to shoulder'n'azz cam crap...... *sigh*

Quote:

Not sure who you're asking, but I haven't played Bayonetta yet. No official opinion on that one at this time. ; )

Oh I thought you said you hated the demo,might have been someone else :P

Well its a DMC clone but its not that bad.

Quote:

That was the problem with Bionic Commando -- misplaced expectations. It was a faithful translation of the NES formula, it never really attempted to be a 3rd Person Shooter, and guns were never really its focus. tons of games go that route, but BC was all about the arm. ^_^

I dunno....the first game is better polished for it was than soylent comando was, I was expecting better (not so small levels,better exploring,control,weapons,ect) but all in all it was not that bad just a bit of a throw back ...kinda like newer FF games but not as mind numbing frustrating from a "what were they thinking" standpoint..... LOL

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