Review - Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm for PlayStation 3
Earliery today Namco Bandai announced DLC for Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm.
Now, IGN has made available a video review of it as follows:
Ultimate Ninja Storm is a, as I like to call it, "casual" fighting game that follows the first plot arcs of the anime series and gives players the chance to fight classic Naruto battles, play mini-games and roam the quaint streets of the Hidden Leaf Village.
The most obvious thing you'll notice about Ultimate Ninja Storm is the game's phenomenal visuals. While the environments are on the simpler side, the character animations are unreal.
The fluidity, attention to detail and even camera angles are executed with such expertise and palpable, Naruto-passion that you can't help but fall in love with how the characters move and fight. I would almost go so far as to say that the characters' Ultimate Jutsu techniques are worth the price of admission, but luckily the entire package is fun, too.
Ultimate Ninja Storm is generally broken up into two modes: Ultimate Mission Mode and Free Battle Mode. Unless you're just playing against a friend, you'll be spending most of your time in Ultimate Mission Mode. The great thing about Ultimate Ninja Storm is that CyberConnect2 recognized that fighting games need something other than straight fighting to keep the longevity of the experience strong. Because Ultimate Ninja Storm isn't a highly technical fighter and has a casual engine, that added content goes a long way.
That content is delivered in the form of a robust collection of missions that are accessed from a large hub world -- a fully explorable Hidden Leaf Village. You can run and jump through the village as Naruto, purchase items and collect unlockables and then access missions by talking to different characters. Those missions range from standard fights, a few mini-games or even massive boss/giant battles.
The mini-games - which involve a lot of tree jumping and dodging branches - are good fun but I would have liked to see a bit more variety in them, like what we saw in CyberConnect2's previous titles. But everything else works great and having 100 missions to work through with bonus conditions included (to encourage multiple play-throughs) definitely adds up your total play time.
I've referred to Ultimate Ninja Storm as a "casual" fighting game several times now, so an explanation is in order. The primary game mechanic here is obviously one-on-one fighting with support characters that can come in for a quick jab or two, but Ultimate Ninja Storm doesn't play like a traditional franchise like Street Fighter. Almost every awesome-looking move can be pulled off by pounding away at the Circle button, and that simplicity is both the game's greatest strength and weakness.
CyberConnect2 - as has been the case before - is interested in bringing the highly stylized, fast action of Naruto to players of all skill levels. Thus, all attacks are pulled off with the Circle button and only a few other button presses are needed in battle. You can power up your Chakra with Triangle, throw shurikens with Square and jump/dash with X. Also, you can block and dodge with L2/R2 and the aforementioned support characters can be called in with a quick tap of L1/R1.
Despite the fact that you can do so much with the Circle button, there's still a fair amount of strategy to be found in Ultimate Ninja Storm and you'll need a good bit of skill to push through more difficult battles. Skill comes into play mainly when you consider having to manage your Chakra meter, block and deflect incoming attacks and using the proper timing for Jutsu and Ultimate Jutsu.
This actually leads to a nice balance of approachable combat with the potential for mastery. The straight-forward combat might turn hardcore gamers off, but I think there's enough depth in the system to keep most people entertained.
Ultimate Ninja Storm does have a few issues to note. There's a mandatory install that takes about 11 minutes or so. That in itself isn't bad, but the game has way too much loading for an install of that size. It's not unbearable by any means, but jumping in and out of the Hidden Leaf Village hub world should be quicker.
Also, I would have liked to see a few more cutscenes and a more fleshed out narrative. The actual cutscenes (as opposed to just text readouts) are few and far between, but when they do pop up they're fun to watch so I wish CyberConnect2 would have capitalized on that a touch more.
My only serious complaint to level at gameplay, however, is that Substitution Jutsu seems quite finicky (this Jutsu involves hitting L2/R2 at the moment your opponent's strike connects, teleporting you behind him). No matter what timing I tried, my success with this Jutsu seemed very sporadic and that was frustrating -- especially when you're on the receiving end of a hyper-epic combo.
Ultimate Ninja Storm is fun and the fast-paced battles look and feel very tight. I have to once again reiterate just how incredible this game looks. Say what you will about the gameplay, but watching these characters perform Ultimate Jutsu is certainly a sight to behold. Despite my few qualms with this game, I definitely recommend it to Naruto fans and I'll even extend that recommendation to non-fans who are itching for some stylized, ninja-heavy action.