Before I begin, I would first like to say that if you are not up-to-date with the Manga or Anime, then this review will contain spoilers. If you are up-to-date read on! If not, just skip down to the Summary.
The game begins with a trip to the past, when the Nine-Tails attacks Konoha as Naruto is born, and follows right the way through the “Five Kage Summit” and through the “Fourth Great Ninja World War” to the resealing of the Tailed-Beasts. I’m currently fourteen hours into the game and I can honestly say that it’s beyond fantastic.
If you’ve played any of the previous “Ninja Storm” titles, then nothing has really changed battle-wise. All of the classical elements are still in: combos, long-distance attacks, ninjutsu. It’s all back, even the Chakra-Dash-Combo-Cancel. The biggest difference that I’ve noticed about the battles – especially the boss battles – is that they’re bigger, badder and better than ever.
The first battle in the game is actually a boss battle. Might as well throw you in at the deep end! The battle is Minato fighting the Masked Man, and as far as battles go it’s nothing special, but the second battle (which is also a boss) is Third Hokage fighting the Nine-Tails. And that’s a boss battle that is just out of this world. Your battle field is Konoha, and to fight Kurama, you have to leap from building to building dodging swipes, evading “Tailed-Beast-Bombs” and then essentially beating the crap out of the beast.
Many people despise Quick Time Events and they make a return appearance, but I personally love them, especially since the cinematics that they use for them are phenomenal and add an additional depth to the gameplay. I loved the first major QTE so much that I had to replay the battle just so I could see all of the Shinobi of Konoha use Fire or Wind-Release against the Nine-Tails. That single scene may be my favourite cinematic that I’ve ever seen.
In some boss battles there are “Secret Actions” which require you to do a certain move at the same time as the enemy, such as Chakra Dashing at the same time as your opponent, or using your ninjutsu at the same time. When this occurs, there will be another QTE, which earns you “stars.” When you max out the star gauge, you unlock a secret memory.
There is much more to this game than fights, though, unlike Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations, which I believe to be a game designed to encourage newcomers to the series, who don’t have the time to watch 600 episodes to catch up.
If you’ve played Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, then you’ll be somewhat familiar with the method of proceeding through the story. The game has a world map, which you need to traverse to the next area, to then initiate a battle to then continue with the story.
A new feature to this particular series is incorporating a “Mob Battle” where numerous enemies appear on the screen and you need to defeat all of them before progressing onto the next stage. These Mob Battles range from beating up White Zetsu and the Reanimated Kakazu, to fighting six of the “Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist” all at once, might I add.
Built into each fight is a bonus requirement, which should you complete provides you with an addition Ryo reward. These bonus requirements can range from using substitutions enough times, keeping your Chakra above a certain percentage, or in the case of the boss battle between Kakashi and Zabuza supported by Haku, keeping your health above 80%. It’s tricky, but not impossible.
My only disappointment with the game itself is the amount, and indeed, the length of the cut scenes. They’re frequent, and more often than not, quite long. The thing is, though, that without those necessary cut scenes the game would not make any sense.
The final shiny new installment to this game that I would like to mention is the “Ultimate Decisions” mode. They take place either during or just before a boss battle. Choosing either the more difficult “Legend” route, or the easier “Hero” route affects the battle in which you are about to participate in. “Ultimate Decisions” do not change the storyline in any way.
For instance, with Naruto being the Jinchūriki of the Nine-Tails, there is a point in the story where he attempts to gain control of the beast Chakra, and become a more powerful fighter. Before the battle starts, Killer Bee, the Jinchūriki of the Eight-Tails, offers to assist in the battle. At this point you are offered the option to fight alongside Killer Bee, or to fight by yourself. Then end result is the same and Naruto gains control of the Chakra, with some outstanding QTEs.
As a Naruto fan, I can honestly say that this is the best game of the series and I look forward to see what they do to further improve the series.