Review – Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2
Developer: CyberConnect2
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Beat ’em Up
Release Date: Out Now (EU), October 19th (US)

Another year, another obligatory anime tie-in game. The Naruto franchise has been going on for years, complete with a roster of video games ranging from average to good. If you’ve read our demo impression then you’ll have a small understanding of how the game performs. Oh but that doesn’t matter because the full game is oh so much better. Hit the jump for the full review!

As to be expected with anime games, the story doesn’t exactly stay truthful to the source material. Various bits of key information and important scenes are discarded, but fans of the series will understand it none the less. The Shippuden story of the series follows the main character, Naruto, who has returned from a long 3 years of training. Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 covers the Rescue Gaara arc and goes all the way up to the Konoha Destruction arc, putting the game very close to where the currently airing anime is. Although I’d imagine that most people who are actually interested in this game knew that already. Oh well.

At its core, Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is a beat em up, but it also features a fully interactive story mode. In this mode, you take control of several characters as you explore Konoha and other locations from the series as you take on missions, hunt for items and advance through the storyline. In the first Ultimate Ninja Storm game, you could explore all of Konoha in a sandbox style gameplay mode. This time you’re restricted to small paths and fixed camera angles. Kind of like a JRPG, although the camera reminds me of Resident Evil. It’s quite linear but easier to get from A to B than the first game. Still works better than Final Fantasy XIII.

There are two different types of battles you can play, one exclusive to the story mode. The most common form of battle is the basic 1v1 fight, in which you can move around freely while hitting with items or throwing out combos. Each character has two specials they can perform, both dealing out a considerable amount of damage if they connect. When you’ve taken enough damage, you can unlock your awakening form which enhances your characters skills and damage output. For some characters, it’s just a stat boost. For others, it drastically alters their appearance and moveset. The most obvious example being Naruto and the 4 tails transformation.

Giant battles have been removed and event battles have taken their place. These special battles involve you fighting your opponent in different styles, complete with plenty of Quick Time Events. The fights can feel very cinematic and pulling off a QTE feels very satisfying when you see a fist being planted into your opponents face. Unfortunately, these have only been left for certain fights, which is quite the missed opportunity. More of these battles would have been fantastic, definitely one of the best aspects of the game. It’s just one of those things that can’t be helped I suppose.

I don’t exactly need to say it but the visuals are nothing short of beautiful. The glorious cel-shaded style really makes the animation of the anime look poor … although it does a pretty good job of that itself. The HD shine to it all really shows the effort put into the visual style. As well as the in-game graphics, the cutscenes look even better. The fluid animation combined with the voice acting and soundtrack gives it that authentic anime feel.

Once again, they’ve decided not to use the soundtrack from the anime for a Naruto game, but the game presents an equally good selection of tracks. It’s not the same but close enough I suppose. Since they want to please both sides of the fanbase, you have the option between Japanese or English voices for the game. Most people will go with the jap voices but for dub watchers, it’s a nice way to get a preview of the voice actors for future characters. No complaints on audio here.

Fixing the mistake the first game made, an online mode is now present. Online consists of player matches and ranked matches, which includes a BP system. You can edit your own online “ninja card” with titles and pictures earned in-game to personalise your profile. One thing I like is that it shows the disconnection frequency of a player, so you can tell if they’re likely to rage quit on you or not. Online play is very fun, but I found it to be quite laggy at times. Not Smash Brothers Brawl lag, but still pretty bad. That’s online gaming for you.

Even with the story mode and online modes, there are still plenty of things for you to do, even after finishing the main game. There are tons of missions and exploration quests to finish, lots of items to find and buy, and a character roster for you to fill up. Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 features a roster of 44  characters, two being alternate costumes. They’ve carefully chosen the characters and the final roster is indeed impressive. Although it still confuses me as to why they decided to put in a character from Tekken. Couldn’t they have picked a better cameo?

When you look at this game as someone who knows nothing about the Naruto franchise, it seems a bit confusing. However, it’s a game that even non-fans can enjoy. A solid combat system and lovely visuals make for an awesome beat em up. Quite possibly one of the best we’ve had all year. But if you’re a Naruto fan then you’ll have a field trip with this. My only complaints are that there weren’t enough event battles and the storyline missed a few important scenes. Regardless, I can safely say that this is the greatest Naruto game available. It’s gonna take something really big to top this game. Let’s see if Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 can deliver.

Final Verdict – 8/10

Heavily aimed at fans, but still enjoyable for those without prior knowledge of the series. The combat can be both fun and challenging, providing an excellent experience. Storyline needs work though, too much left out.

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2 Responses to “Review – Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2”

  1. Kishimoto designed character, so they thought it would be fair to put him in kishimotos game as well

  2. […] to get your hands on them! Also attending are Namco Bandai, who have many games to show, including Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, Enslaved, Despicable Me, and many unreleased games such as Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, […]

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