Previews

Ninja Blade

Ryu Hayabusa had better watch his back, there's a new ninja in town...

Our introduction to Ninja Blade's main character, the underwhelmingly named Ken, comes in a level part-way through the game. A helicopter flies over a beautifully detailed Tokyo by night, and hanging underneath like a man-sized bat is Ken, looking as nonchalant as someone waiting for the bus.

The relative peace is disturbed when a giant, disgusting Dune-inspired mutant worm suddenly smashes into view.

It's tough not to be instantly impressed by the sheer scale of Ninja Blade. Much of the action takes place high above the city's streets, and it provides a vast backdrop for the positively enormous monsters you'll end up facing.

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The loose storyline is that the population of Tokyo has been infected by a mutant parasite that is turning them into severely icky monsters. You and your elite team of Ninjas are sent in to clean up the mess with a variety of weapons and magic spells.

Ninja Blade is very much cut from the same cloth as Ninja Gaiden, with stylish, technical combat augmented by magic and big multi-part boss fights. Where Ninja Blade differentiates itself, though, is in its quicktime event sequences.

Finishing moves and many of the stylish combat cutscenes require you to hit buttons with precise timing and failure to do so results in you having to replay the sequence. To further add to the challenge, the buttons aren't always the same each time, meaning you can't just lazily memorise the combination.

We're not great fans of QTEs at the best of times, and Ninja Blade is looking positively saturated with them. Whether the sheer number means you'll quickly learn to snooze your way through them remains to be seen.

Otherwise it appears to be a likeable and slick Ninja Gaiden clone. The smaller scale battles are nicely flowing, and getting the knack for quick weapon changes mid-battle is a satisfying learning experience.

Chasing a giant, slobbering mutant spider between skyscrapers on a grappling hook is exhilarating stuff, and there are even some Prince of Persia-inspired platforming elements to break up the action.

This is clearly a game for the hardcore, but its Hollywood-scale monsters and imaginative battles may win a fair few hearts.

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