Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Review (360)
The Leaf Village’s spunky, blonde-haired ninja is back, and he is looking better than ever. Believe it. Last time we saw Naruto, the game was…. let’s just say, not up to much. I felt like I might not even return to the series. Generations was so off-putting. But here I am playing NSUNS3 and loving it. I am totally in awe of this game.
Once again we find Cyber Connect 2 behind the wheel, and they seem to have taken on a lot of criticisms from the previous iteration. With the Ultimate Ninja series spanning the best part of a decade (if not more) you would think it would feel a little stale, but the way in which Cyber Connect 2 treats every title with such care and attention, with a new story and expansive cast every time, you can’t help but beg for more.
As with all Naruto games in what can be considered the cannon titles (not including the Ubisoft games or the Generations spin-off) you pick up from where you left Naruto at the end of Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. This means that you pick-up from around the start of the “Five Kage Summit” and continue on from there. The wonderful thing about Naruto is the expansive timeline also extends back, with a truly fantastic prologue. The only downside is that due to the age rating and size of the game, certain parts are omitted or toned down, but Cyber Connect 2 still manage to keep the same level of impact… as long as you don’t expect to see Kisame ripped apart by sharks.
If you are a lover of the anime series there is some unbelievably beautiful fights and cutscenes that will make your spine tingle. The first time I completed the Minato versus The Masked Man secret action and viewed the cutscene that followed I was blown away. The level of detail and smooth cell shading means you can’t help but get excited. From massive battles that span many different ninja moves, to the tense 1v1 battles, they all look fantastic.
The combat is very much like the other games in the franchise, with specific moves from different series being available for you to chose from in the versus mode. The combat flows a little bit better and just feels slightly more balanced, if not a bit broken at times. But the major edition for NSUNS3 is the free battle mode, which draws parallels with Tekken Force mode found in Tekken (obviously). The new free battle mode enables you to take on hordes of enemies as you progress in the game. In free battle you are able to perform all your regular moves and lock onto enemies while negotiating and evading the rest, but there are a few more additions that add that extra umph. For instance, the special gauge you can fill up to perform a dashing attack that allows the character to glide between enemies, cutting them down in his stride with the use of QTEs. There is also a different type of finishing move for weakened opponents that has lots of custom animation and specific visual effects depending on your character.
Another great addition to the game is the new cast members that you can use to play with your friends or online. The total number of available cast members is now pushing dangerously close to 90. The ever expanding wardobe also includes multiple outfits and varying ninja moves for several of the cast, and even goes as far as including the younger versions of certain characters from previous games. There is an unlimited number of teams you can form, and more than enough jutsus to wave a substitution log at.
The last two key components (one of which I have already touched upon) that make NSUNS3 endlessly fun are the Ultimate Decisions and the Secret Actions. Both of these add a new depth to the game along with a variety of different ways you can play. First of all, the Ultimate Decisions allow you to take the “hero” or “legend” route through the game. When choosing the “hero” route you will find that the game is slightly easier and that the level of skill required to get an S rank is just that bit lower. Meanwhile, the “legend” route is the inverse of that, with more enemies and slightly higher levels of difficulty and grading. This means that to fully experience the Naruto game you need to complete it at least two times to get all that it has to offer. The secret actions are also a great reason to complete the campaign (or at least those battles) again.
In fulfilling hidden requirements within battles, such as using your ninjutsu at the same time as your opponent, you will unlock extra cutscenes and some momentous clashes of the world’s greatest ninjas. They are unbelievably flashy and look amazing. Upon completing my first secret action I was overwhelmed by just how good they can look. Both of these additions really are an amazing step up in quality and visual flair from Cyber Connect 2, and I hope to see them return in future titles, or maybe even expanded on.
Like all Naruto games there is also a plethora of unlockables and extras to buy. These range from different substitution items to images that customize your player cards. With each game the collection has grown, and so naturally you might feel a little overwhelmed when you start to rifle through your collection of titles and images. There is even a few rewards from playing previous games, such as early character unlocks and a few more tidbits, which is something I’ve always loved in games. That sense of dedication you have to a series pays off and it feels great. So save your Ryo and make sure you don’t delete your old games saves!
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is a great game. Sure it has its little flaws, but it is most definitely my favourite Ninja Storm game by far. You can see that a lot of effort has been put in for the fans, although you might be missing one or two battles and the violence in the manga has been toned down. Still, Cyber Connect 2 have managed to create a game simple enough for the younger generation to fall in love with. It has enough variety and characters to provide endless amounts of fun. Where else would you see a young Kakashi fight the older Naruto? Where else you could select one of the many village leaders to face off against the predecessors? Nowhere, and that’s exactly why you should buy this game if you love Naruto.
9 ultimate jutsu finishes out of 10