Remember how in Ninja Gaiden 2 you had to kill certain enemies by utilizing the Obliteration Technique, where an enemy was rendered minus a limb and Ryu had to full out… obliterate them into a cloud of red mist and various body parts?
Ninja Gaiden 3 will be eschewing that particular feature to start adding a bit more meaning to the violence. How is that achieved? Through Team Ninja’s attempt to really replicate the sociopathic tendencies of Ryu Hayabusa.
Ninja Gaiden 3 director, Yosuke Hayashi, talked to Joystiq regarding the changes to the franchise philosophy in the game – namely to take Ryu from just a remorseless and messy killer into a much more emotionally evocative individual. Believe it or not, adding that kind of level of investment might have been what was lacking in Ninja Gaiden 2, which was heavily focused on dispatching enemies in the most brutal ways possible – with a large assortment of weapons.
Hayashi-san wants to take NG3 to a higher level of emotional cognizance. To let the player really know what it’s like to slice people up with a katana or club them to death with nunchaku or, if it returns, slice them in half with a giant scythe. So how will this be accomplished? Making the enemies (the human ones, at least) more… human. Make them into people who had lives and feelings before they put themselves up against the most deadly ninja alive. Hayashi-san says:
“[W]e wanted to focus on the act of cutting someone down, and what it’s like to actually kill someone with a sword. Once you start lopping off limbs, your enemy goes from being a living thing that you’re killing to just a thing.
“When you’re actually cutting into a person, and you feel them getting scared, and the blood is spraying right on you, you hear their dying breaths in your ear — that’s the kind of visceral violence we’re going for…”
Our hands-on at E3 2011 reflected this new philosophy somewhat, but it’s hard to describe without playing the game for yourself – and seeing what Hayashi-san is driving at. For a more visual sense of what Hayashi-san is talking about, the latest batch of screenshots illustrate his point pretty well. You can also become intrigued by the story from this GDC 2011 trailer.
The new direction Ninja Gaiden 3 is taking seems like a well calculated risk, emphasizing the actual psychological aspects of being that borderline anti-hero who is more or less committing wholesale slaughter for the greater good.
Ninja Gaiden 3 releases in Q1 2012 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U.
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