Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Ninja Blade: Game Design Review

Ninja Blade is an action game where you play as a modern day ninja, Ken Ogawa who is sent along with a team of ninjas to defeat 'worms'. Worms are strange new biological organisms able to infect living things and turn them into zombie like monsters. Set in Tokyo, you follow Ken as he tries to stop the infection and find out more about why his father and friend have betrayed the ninjas. I played on the Xbox 360 Controller on PC which I highly recommend.

Overall gameplay impressions:
The gameplay can be roughly divided into two parts: The first is where you control Ken from a third person perspective like any other normal action game and the second contains the much touted quick-time events. As in other reviews, the quick-time events are extreme cinematic attacks that has Ken flying everywhere doing  impossible things like slowing down a jumbo jet airplane with his blades and leaping off extremely tall buildings. Almost every single quick-time event is unique so you'll almost never see the same cinematic twice except near the end where you have to fight the bosses again.

I find that the platforming handles well and you can run along walls and up walls seamlessly. The combat is also solid and the three weapons do feel differently and all have their uses. You can also use your magical disc which has a wind, fire and lightning forms to attack enemies with different results.

While the normal enemies aren't particularly exciting, the bosses look quite fantastical and suitable ugly and crazy.

What I didn't like:
Here are some issues I had with the game.

Graphics and artstyle- The entire game is draped in grey and black taking place at night in an urban environment. We've seen enough grey concrete buildings in other games so why create such a boring looking environment? The enemies are similarly given white, grey or brown colours as well.

Considering this is the same team that created Otogi: Myth of Demons which was apparently really colourful and interesting it seems rather disappointing. This is probably my biggest complaints about the game. It just doesn't look visually appealing.

Ninja vision blurs after usage- Ninja vision in the game acts like a cross of bullet-time and super-vision. When activated it slows down the world, highlights barrels, highlights climbable surfaces and shows boss weak spots. Unfortunately, whenever Ninja vision is turned off it the screen goes blurry and you can't see anything for about 1 or 2 seconds. It's very annoying especially in crucial moments like trying dodge boss attacks.

Normal enemy units are boring- While the enemy bosses are quite large and epic, the normal units are quite boring. There were only a handful of normal enemies and most of differences come from the main zombies having different equipment.

Lack of stun in normal weapons- Only the most powerful heavy weapon has the ability to actually stun enemies, the standard sword and twin blades don't. Its a bit annoying because you have to continually dodge attacks while attacking rather than focusing your attacks on one enemy.

Lack of weapon and magic variety- You can only get three weapons and three magic spells with a secret fourth magic spell. While I thought the game was fairly balanced with each one doing different things, it would have been nice to have a few more options.

I quite enjoyed Ninja Blade actually especially the over the top quick time events and solid action gameplay. It's not as good as a Devil May Cry game because of its lack of variety but its a solid game. There really isn't much replayability once you finish it except to try and beat your previous times and unlock a couple of extras but its enjoyable from start to finish as is.

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