Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3
For those who know me, i’m the kind of nerd that religiously follow the work of Masashi Kishimoto, and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is no disappointment at all. Even with the few problems in the Generations episode, CyberConnect2 ensure that this opus would be this time a masterpiece.
With more than thirteen years of continuous publication in the Weekly Shonen Jump, the infamous Japanese manga magazine, the story of Naruto has reached its highest peak, with more intensity than any other comic has ever reached. The game itself, tries hard to track as closely as possible the entire fourth ninja war, even going beyond the events narrated in the last few volumes published in the west, with many cutscenes between fights and the adventures… And by many, I should say a hell lot of them.
Sure, the most eagered fighters might be a little confused by the length of the cutscenes. which often require us to let go of the controller, grab a bucket of pop corn to enjoy the story, but it is still difficult to follow the course of the manga if you’re not accustomed to it. But the quality of the cinematics, served with impeccable Japanese dubbing (although you should stick to the original voice with subtitles), honored the story arc with some of the feistiest discussions at the Five Kage Council, Tobi’s ambitions as he seeks more power but the creme-de-la-creme would be the endless inner fights between Naruto and his Nine Tailed Beast.
With the Fourth Ninja War set as the core story theme of the game, this environment is ideal for constant changes, fights, and take control of different key players in the clash as well as discovering never-been seen characters. Even if Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations boasted to have the largest roster of the series, this opus broke the record with a staggering total of 80 combatants, all available in free battle mode or online.
Even with all the various flashbacks that relives the nostalgic moments of Naruto’s childhood, the Ultimate Adventure itself is a mode that requires no less than 15 hours (by skipping a rough 20 hours full of cutscenes) to finish, marking only the beginning of another journey in which we become free to accomplish all kinds of sidequests to unlock even more content. It is also the time to build your own ninja team and build friendship bonds between your allies, as if the ninja war wasn’t enough for that. In short, the game content is very consistent and guarantees many hours of fun.
From gameplay point of view, the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm franchise is clearly one of the most successful adaptations of manga and anime games, so it is not surprising for the developers to not alter an already well baked recipe.
Nevertheless, CyberConnect2 added a small alteration, which comes in the form of ultimate decisions: At certain key moments of the game, we are given the opportunity to choose a path and change the course of how the story is told, as a hero or a legend. For example, at the beginning of the adventure, you can choose to prioritize the Hidden Leaf’s village defense against the Nine Tails attack, or try to find out who is pulling the strings from the shadows.
This affects everything, from how the battles will take place, their level of difficulty and the of course the rewards obtained. It also affect at the same time, the amount of points to be added to your Hero or Legend rank, in the way that we have chosen. These points open up the range of items and tools to be used during fights, such as kunai, bombs and ninja pills.
Add to that the never dying quick time events that occur in most of the battles, forcing you to time button sequences in perfection, will help you discover hidden sequences, which are a smart way to discover more of the story’s branches and flashbacks. For the rest, the gameplay is still very much the same, with a single button attack (  on the PlayStation 3 and [B] on the Xbox 360) and a combined use of combos, kunais, ninjutsu, and substitution jutsu to fire counter-attacks.
As always, good management of chakra – ninja’s vital energy that allows them to perform special abbilities – is key to defeat your rival, or even go further and unlock powerful character transformations, such as tailed beast modes! In the presence of allies, the player may use three types of support, and build up team support levels to execute powerful tag attacks when the gauge is at its maximum.
• Extreme loyalty to the anime series
• The choices you make alter the plot
• Visually intense
• A very accessible and simple game but a deep fighting system
• 80 playable characters
• Great music
• Attention to detail. Everywhere.
• Boss fights that are insane…
• … But some are quite boring without the QTE sequences
• An online mode that is rather too simple even with the card system
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 in all cases has largely succeeded their bet to seduce both fans of the series and fighting experts alike, in what is for my own opinion, one of the best adaptations of manga culture in a video game.