Thursday, 9 May 2013

Review: Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (360)

My undying love of the Naruto franchise has been extolled multiple times, so there's no point in gushing over it again. Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 lets you play out some of the major battles of the 5 Kage Summit Arc, or if you'd rather, just wander around beating the crap of other ninjas in versus mode.

The Single Player campaign is the main draw for the game; getting to compete in some of the bigger set piece battles is the steak for this meal. You get to start off with the battle against Kyuubi in Konoha in all its apocalyptic city destruction glory. By showing the destruction of Konoha and showing the necessary co-operation of every ninja you really appreciate the talents required to bring down this force of nature. After such an impressive battle, each following one tries in vain to live up to this high point. That's not to say the rest of the game is a write-off, it just highlights how impressive the first big one is.

A neat twist to the single player campaign is the selectable story moments. At certain points the player will be tasked with a character choice. The two choices are the Hero Path or the Legend Path, and each will be scored difficulty: one is a deviation of the anime story while the second follows the story correctly. These "side-quests", if you will, allows for some additional story telling for the characters but will eventually bring you back to the main story (but still encourages some replay of the campaigns to see everything).

The combat system, while not revamped per se, has definitely been streamlined from previous versions. Successfully pulling off the more complicated attacks is actually possible, whereas earlier versions you couldn't pull them off with any level of frequency. As a result, combat has become much faster and more fluid than we've seen before with more attack/counter-attack rather than missed-move/missed-counter/shuriken-spamming/block-grinding snore fest. That's not to say, there aren't moments where you will just put the controller down for a minute because you just got caught in a
combo that just refuses to end until all 30+ hits connect.

The single player campaign really won't provide a serious challenge for most fighting game fans; the campaign is there to just get your unlockable characters. Although it is definitely worth a few playthroughs, the longevity for this game will come from playing online against other competitors (where I like to go to remove that invincible opinion of myself).

Visually the game continues to use the cel-shading system that we've become familiar with from Bandai games, and this iteration shows the continued improvement that the studio achieves; the hard lines that you used to see on character edges are becoming less and less visible; within a generation, we may start to see games that are no visual different from their animated sources. The sound effects and voice acting are right where they need to be. Everything sounds canon, no odd sound effects or character voices that I could detect. The music can get a little much on longer playing sessions, which is why I can't do 3-4 hour Naruto anime benders anymore like I do for my reviews. Inclusion of the Japanese voice acting wins huge for me! I hate it when you only get the English voice talent.

All in all, Naruto is worth a pick up for Naruto fans or those who enjoy a simple combat game.

- Tazman

The Good:
- You like character choices? How about 80+ selectable characters once they are all unlocked.
- Much more forgiving combo system than previous versions
- Some really impressive set-piece battles – the battle to stop Kyuubi for example
- Bonus points for Japanese voice acting option!

The Bad:
- Single player game is hard as pudding

Score: 7.0 / 10