Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm User Review
First of all: Please be lenient with my grammar/structure/spelling etc. I'm not a native speaker (German) but I love the English language (esp. American, sorry my British friends :P) and am constantly striving to improve my language skills.
Should you therefore discover any weird or unusual constructions feel free to correct them in the comments section. I appreciate any help I can get =)
Down to business then:
I didn't really know what to expect when I picked up my copy of UNS, I simply bought it as it's the only Naruto game on the PS3.
I enjoy reading the manga and prior to Shippuuden I liked watching the anime as well (except eps. 136-220, as they were fillers).
Unfortunately the pace dropped drastically with Shippuuden and after the death of my favorite Naruto character I stuck solely to the manga.
I've read that UNS storm follows the manga story line until the Sasuke retrieval arc, so basically everything in UNS is canon, no fillers included.
After a lengthy installation process (approx. 4.3 GB) I was greated by the English VO of Naruto himself.
As I enjoy Japanese entertainment media (mainly manga/anime/games) I hardly listen to English VO and prefer the Japanese option if available, thus I switched to Japanese VO.
This is solely my personal preference and not an opinion about the English voice cast's quality, as I did not listen to them.
In short: The game offers a Japanese VO option which adds greatly to the Ultimate Ninja Illusion (no pun intended ^^).
The game itself is a hybrid between a mission/assignment-based action adventure and a simple beat 'em up.
In story mode you control Naruto as he roams freely through Konoha Gakure (a perfect 3D replica of Naruto's home town) looking for assignments (i.e. side quests), hidden extras or Ninja scrolls which unlock new skills for the ever expanding Ninja roster.
Assignments are optional but recommended for easier progression through story mode.
In general story mode missions are 1-3 man fights with special winning conditions. Once a story mission has been cleared it can be tackled anew with two more winning conditions yielding greater rewards.
All three winning conditions replicate the manga's encounters, whereas the initial condition is merely winning the fight.
Thus story mode plays as if taken straight from the manga if all 3 winning conditions are met.
Story mode is structured in arcs and those story missions are given by prominent Naruto characters in Konoha Gakure.
There are also some fun interlude missions like chasing Pakkun/Akamaru or climbing trees with your feet only.
Sometimes they become repetitive but never border on annoyance.
There are also lots of unlockable extras to be bought with your earned in game money (mission rewards).
The most impressive ones are moving and talking statues of all featured characters speaking a one-liner, dioramas of famous manga scenes ('one thousand years of pain' ftw ^^) and Ultimate Ninjutsu videos where stage, bgm, opponent and costumes can be customized.
Speaking of the fighting system it's very simple. You attack using circle mixed with various direction inputs on the left stick.
Chakra attacks can be performed by pressing triangle once followed by circle for ninjutsu (customizable at the char selection screen, 2-4 ninjutsu per character available, some must be bought through scrolls though), square for ninjutsu-shuriken, X for ninjutsu rush (kinda like the Vanguard in ME2) and triangle circle for an Ultimate Jutsu (UJ) provided you have enough chakra (can be filled up by holding triangle down). UJ are the true highlight of the game. They are uber attacks that look amazing but require a button-mashing minigame to succeed.
Prior to each fight you choose two support characters with a nin- or taijutsu each, or one charcter twice with different jutsu, that can be activated by pressing L/R and have a brief recharge time.
There's also some random banter amongst the teams or special dialogue if certain combinations of teams are chosen (Itachi/Sasuke, Itachi/Kisame etc.)
There are also various ninja tools and items that can be mapped to the d-pad and are usable during every fight. Those are mostly gimmicks as seen in the manga and some unique character items.
The graphics are amazing. The cell shaded look produces 3D look-alikes of all characters and the animation work is top notch.
Each character moves exactly as seen in the anime.
The original Japanese voice cast as heard in the anime complements the Ultimate Illusion.
The characters are absolutely identical to their anime/manga counterparts.
Each model is highly detailed and a perfect copy of the respective character.
Arenas are also taken straight from the manga and ambient sounds/bgm straight from the anime.
I was extremely impressed with the flawless implementation of 5.1 (no dts unfortunately, only DD), you hear each bird, each water splat and each shuriken flying past your ear, it's amazing.
Overall it is the best Naruto game I've played so far and it features an insane amount of detail.
Unfortunately there are a few flaws which make it only recommendable to fans of the series.
After each event (fights, or story mode missions/assignments) there's a brief loading time (approx 10 sec). It may be fun the first, or fith time, as the loading screen is highly stylized and knda funny, but imagine staring at it over 200 times (100 story missions, which must be completed at least twice i.o. to gain 100% completion) - it gets annoying. Especially as there's a mendatory 4.3 GB install.
There's no Trophy-implementation and no online multi-player either.
The battle system is also very simple (just one button and a few gimmicks/tools). But you can dodge and use Ninjutsu or Kawarimi (body exchange technique) as long as you have chakra, which can be replenished by holding down triangle.
Each character has three life bars but UJ can take out 1.5 life bars at once ^^.
There's also some free DLC available which adds extremely challenging missions as well as one additional support character per Storm Pack. Included are Anko, the first and second Hokage, the sound nin etc.
Those characters are not playable (only support) but there's a statue of each one in the extras screen, without a one-liner though.
Bottom line is, once you finish everything there's hardly any reason to come back for more, unless you wanna behold those amazing UJ-moves again.
Therefore I have high hopes for the sequel currently in development which will feature online-multi and most likely trophies. Not to mention some bad-ass characters and costumes.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.