While Ninja Gaiden 3 has three different game modes, I only tried the team-based mode, which pits two bands of four ninjas against each other in this build. Tecmo-Koei marketing manager Sean Corcoran assured me there would be a free-for-all mode in the final product, and one other mode he couldn't talk about.
Corcoran also promised a variety of unlockable weaponry in Ninja Gaiden 3. As players level up online, they'll unlock different weapons, armor sets and different ninpo magic. The starting equipment includes a katana, a bow, some shuriken and a basic projectile Ninpo attack.
At times, things got chaotic and cluttered with a bunch of ninjas in a confined space, but eventually tactics began to manifest. I'd hit the rooftops and spot some of my ninja buddies in a fight, let loose my bow and turn the tables on those other, inferior ninjas. And when a pair of enemies ganged up on a teammate of mine, I dove down (again from the rooftops) and interrupted their attack, allowing us to turn the tables and snag a couple kills. Now that I think about it, rooftops are like the Lassie to Little (Ninja) Timmy.
Ninja Gaiden 3's multiplayer was very rough, just the one gametype and level -- and the map available was pretty small. But there's real promise here, because the core mechanics of Ninja Gaiden are, simply put, fun. It feels good to slice up dudes, and with a little more variety and polish, multiplayer is sure to shine.