Ninja Blade - Xbox 360 review

As far the downright coolest professions go, taking the streets as a ninja must be in the top few. Probably alongside footballer, Formula 1 driver, and Scarlett Johansson’s personal trainer. Essentially being a ninja is considered an incredibly interesting past time. Hence it crops up in the gaming world time and time again.

While Ninja Blade may look similar in style to the tricky Ninja Gaiden series, there’s little in the manner of similarities between the pair. While the latter concentrates on creating a superbly crafted battle system, the former aims for sheer excess.

The closest title currently on the market to Ninja Blade is undoubtedly the God of War titles, which Ninja Blade borrows from quite heavily indeed. Most notably with the constant utilisation of Quick Time Events.

Barely a minute goes by without some form of QTE breaking up the action. Whether it be taking down a multi-storey behemoth - and there are plenty of those to contend with - or simply running down the side of a skyscraper, wasting enemies as you head downwards, huge button shaped icons can appear on screen at any second.

As frustrating as their constant appearances can be, somehow they simply seem to fit in perfectly. As Ninja Blade is far from realistic, making well timed button presses as your ninja arcs through the air, hacking and slashing an enemy a thousand times bigger than himself is certainly an enjoyable experience.

Not all your enemies are hefty things mind. You’ll still have ample use of the two face buttons controlling close and long range attacks as you contend with groups of enemies that try to halt your progress. It’s certainly a long way from the depth offered in combat in the Ninja Gaiden games, but it’s still easily considered a lot of fun.

What aren’t quite as top notch are the Prince of Persia esque platforming sections. The main one you’ll use is the basic wall run to avoid huge chasms. The only problem is that these are incredibly easy to miss thanks to a camera system which sits far too close to the ground, leaving you plummeting thousands of feet over and over again.

Equally, the visuals are, on average, sub par. While the cityscapes can look quite attractive, particularly during a fast paced QTE, the rest of the game suffers from some quite poor visuals. Worst of all has to be the fire effects which look like they are from a title released well over a decade ago.

What does act much to Ninja Blade’s benefit is the sheer pace of the game. There’s barely a second's respite due to the game's insistence that you rush on to the next area, usually involving yet another QTE and a batch of enemies to slaughter. If it’s real pure action you’re after, this one is for you.

Verdict

Ninja Blade might not have all the facets of a top class title, and its reliance on QTE’s might irritate some. But there’s no denying that this is a fast-paced action packed romp that simply can't fail but excite.

It might not last long enough to be a real must buy, and the visuals are a step below what we’d expect. But this is certainly one to try.