There are two types of Quick Time Events. There are the kind with proper consequences, where if you fail to hit A at the right time you fail to cut your opponents arm off or stab out his eyes. There are also the kind with what could barely be called consequences, where your failure to hit A at the right time plunges you to your death causing the game to revert to seconds before your sausage fingers
slammed X instead of A and giving you a chance to try again - with no effect on the game outside of this.
The first kind I don't like, but that's just because I'm not the most rhythmic guy in the world. They are usually put to good use, Shadow of the Colossus and God of War both used them very effectively, and were enhanced by the player's influence on the death of the enemy.
The second kind are completely useless and need to be stopped. Why do developers insist on bothering with them? So I've failed to hit A at the right time or I've hit the wrong button, and now I have to go back and watch 10 seconds of cutscene again. What did that achieve exactly, aside from annoying me? Are gamer's attention spans now so low they don't watch cutscenes if they don't have to press a button half way through?
Quick Time Events are an important point in Ninja Blade, because the rest of the game is incredibly average. It's not bad - excepting the Quick Time Events it is not a bad game at all. But it isn't a great game. Ninja Blade is just another in a long line of Ninja Gaiden clones. The style is similar, the designs are similar, even the controls are similar. Similar, but with the exception of the controls (which mirror Ninja Gaiden almost exactly) not as good. Ninja Blade lacks the polish behind the Ninja Gaiden games. For example, most beat-em-ups of this sort are linear, but they provide open environments, which give the illusion of a larger world.
Ninja Blade doesn't bother with this, and you walk down 3 metre wide corridors for the majority of the game, surrounded by invisible walls. You can almost see a direct path to your destination whenever you use your Ninja Vision - a special technique all ninjas have that shows them which wall panels in japanese buildings their ninja shoes can run up, and which parts of the giant mutant parasite spider you've never seen before are vunerable. Maybe that's why you also spend some time on helicopter turrets, there is nothing like an on-rail shooter to make you appreciate running around corridors.
Another place the great pink ninja fails to compare to its rival Gaiden is in the story. Ninja Gaiden was no tour-de-force, but Ninja Blade is moronic. And unlike the other great beat-em-up Devil May Cry, it seems to take itself seriously. You play Ken Ogawa, a ninja called in by the Japanese government to help control and take out a parasitic menace that threatens to wipe out Tokyo, Japan and the world in that order. Joining you in your fight against the parasites are your dad, a white guy ninja who is clearly 10 times better than you and a black guy ninja who flies a helicopter and talks in jive.
If you can't stop these microscopic organisms with your swords and wind magic, America is going to ICBM Tokyo - and probably call it a nuclear weapon failure to stop widespread panic. And, 20 minutes into the game, your dad and the white guy get infected, kill the rest of the away team, chop the street pimp ninja in half and stab you in the heart with a magic sword. This somehow leaves Ken as the only person who can stand against them. I told you it was ridiculous.
And that's almost it. The graphics are decent enough at a distance but the textures are grainy at times, and the music is the kind of techno traditional japanese music that my brain just ignores. Aside from Action Jackson, the voice acting is reasonable, and in the default bilingual voice setting Ken switches between speaking English and
Japanese depending on who he is talking to, which is a really nice touch. That's a bit of a problem with the game - it wastes a lot of nice touches. There are a whole heap of different settings you can edit, down to being able to increase the difficulty of the game but leave the QTE difficulty at normal (If only you could remove the QTEs altogether.) One crazy and useless thing you can do is change the colours of your outfit, meaning every guy who has played Ninja Blade has made a pink ninja and chuckled to himself at least once.
If it weren't for the QTEs during cut-scenes I'd say it was nothing special but nothing brutally terrible and probably worth it if you desperately wanted something like Ninja Gaiden to play. But with the abundance of cut-scene QTEs, and the terrible story, it's not worth the bother when you could be playing something better. Get Devil May Cry 4 instead, if you've already played Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden 2.