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Ninja Gaiden 3: A Hollywood-worshipping slasher

Check-in with the ultra-violent action game

After blitzing the Ninja Gaiden 3 demo we were disappointed to realise we hadn't died once. Not once.

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Even on normal difficulty, the last pair of Gaidens would have punished our rusty sword skills with several trips to the restart screen. Not so here.

The loss of that ruthless, hardcore edge is a symptom of Team Ninja's biggest change: it wants Ninja Gaiden to be accessible. It so badly wants you to love it it's grown a cheesy storyline (some old nonsense about shady government agencies and terrorism) and smudged the precision control on which the series built its reputation.

Yes, past games were unforgiving, but that's because you were in total command of each slash and swipe.

Where NG3 lacks precision and subtlety it tries to paint over with blood. So much blood. Even the most basic combos produce fountains of gore, and once you throw in charged attacks and frequent Quick Time finishers (press r to yank your blade through their guts) the action gets both messy and fragmented.

Charged moves see you zip between enemies in a dazzling computer-controlled animation, shoving your sword through each one and slicing with lightning speed as the camera struggles to keep up.

Once the bloodbath is over you're often disoriented, leaving you to wrestle the slow-panning camera and work out where the next attack's coming from.

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It wows, but at a cost: you feel the game would rather you didn't play at all. Depth may arrive in the full game (we only played a two-level preview) but for now it feels like Team Ninja have cut the heart out of this series.

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