Guest Author - James Shea
A fairly standard game from the "God of War" / "Ninja Gaiden" school of action games, Ninja Blade is dull in almost every manner. It doesn't feel "incomplete", per se, but it seems conceptually flawed. While it's not terrible, it brings absolutely nothing new to gaming.
The game is set in modern Tokyo, where an outbreak of zombies and other supernatural creatures has resulted in the government sending in a team of modern-day ninjas. That's as deep as the plot seemed to go - the game starts with you jumping out of a helicopter and slashing some flying enemies on the way down to a skyscraper. There are some identifiable characters - the protagonist ninja, the cocky ninja, the old ninja, and the black helicopter pilot ninja (yes, he's in ninja clothes too) who basically acts as your mission control.
The main gameplay is similar to every other beat-em-up game. You swing a sword around, you string up combos, etc. There's really nothing to differentiate it from games like God of War or Ninja Gaiden. There are three weapons: a basic sword, a light twin-sword set that can be used as grappling hooks, and a slow heavy sword. There are also three magic shurikens: wind, fire, and lightning. While some weapons and shurikens have utility outside combat, it's usually pretty limited. Wind shurikens put out fires, the heavy sword can break through certain walls, and so on. It's less of a logic puzzle and more of "oh, this thing. I should use that thing".
Most of the game seems to be spent in quick-time events, though. The use of QTEs is kind of weird in Ninja Blade. In most games, failure gets you a little "you died" scene, showing how you screwed up or got knocked around. In Ninja Blade, failing a QTE just makes time go backwards a little bit and then you retry it. That's basically it. Essentially, it's a cutscene, but you have to do quick-time events to advance it. The cutscenes themselves aren't bad, it's just kind of silly that they're not connected to the gameplay at all.
The enemies in the game range from annoying (all the normal enemies) to kind of interesting (some of the bosses). There's not enough variety in the normal enemies, and they're not really fun to fight. The one part of the game that I liked was movement - things like sprinting, wall-running, and wall-jumping handle fairly well (better than Ninja Gaiden, at least). It's small consolation compared to the rest of the game, though. The graphics and sound are acceptable, but not great. Ultimately, it's just a game that doesn't have anything to offer. If you're a diehard action fan and you've blown through every other game you have, then Ninja Blade might be enough "more of the same" to be enjoyable. For everyone else, it's not worth it at all.
This game was purchased with our own money from a game store.