Ninjas and zombies are both great on their own. Combined, they're even greater.

Ninjas and zombies are both great on their own. Combined, they're even greater.

Ninja Blade has all the makings of greatness, including a sword-wielding master ninja, infected zombie foes and a futuristic Tokyo setting.

Your squad of government-sponsored super-ninjas is sent to Tokyo in 2015 during an outbreak of mutant zombies. Trained to muster all the bravado of stereotypical '80s action movies, these masters of the night are unlikely saviors of humanity.

Players assume the role of Ken, one of these super-ninjas and wielder of the Ninja Blade, a giant sword that allows him to harness the powers of the elements and eviscerate his foes at range.

The hero wades through hordes of zombies and faces a number of impressive giant monster bosses, often chasing them through a level in a game of cat-and-mouse until finally confronting and defeating them.

Ninja Blade is best taken at face value. This is no great dramatic work, no groundbreaking advance in action gaming. It is a serviceable fighting game that makes liberal use of the quick-time button events made popular years ago in God of War and the sweep-and-slash gameplay common to the Ninja Gaiden series.

In fact, comparisons with Ninja Gaiden should be expected, as Ninja Blade draws from the same cultural well for its main character and setting. The game feels a bit low-rent when compared to its peers; the visuals are crisp, but the characters and elements have a generic feel to them.

Also, this is very obviously a Japanese game translated for release in America - supporting characters come off as crude caricatures, and a strange script jumps back and forth between English and Japanese.

Gamers have the option to play in a subtitled format with the original Japanese voice acting, and after spending some time with the game I recommend that option for your sanity.

The game is fairly forgiving in one respect - you get an opportunity to try again if you fail during the quick-time battle sequences, which require pushing a button or moving the controller in a set pattern quickly. This kindness means even the least-reactive players have a shot at making it through the many choreographed action scenes.

Ninja Blade is fun while it lasts and offers a challenge for even the most experienced action gamers, but it's certainly not "must-buy" material.