Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 PlayStation 3
Published by: Namco Bandai
Developed by: Cyber Connect 2
The appeal of Naruto is seemingly endless. It’s been an immensely successful manga and anime and the series has millions of fans the world over. The Naruto games have all been solid affairs too, on the current generation of consoles and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja 2 is no exception but that’s not to say it’s as good as it could have been. Several aspects of the game are disappointing and mar the experience and prevent the game from being something really special. However, it’s a game that Naruto fans will definitely appreciate.
Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 offers three modes: Ultimate Adventure, Free Battle and Online Battle. The Ultimate Adventure mode can be considered the heart of the game. The storyline doesn’t just focus on Naruto. You’ll be switching between various characters during the course of the game and this helps to keep things interesting. Even those who might not fancy the idea of playing through the Ultimate Adventure mode first, might reconsider when they learn how enjoyable the boss battles can be.
The combat system, whilst fairly enjoyable, lacks depth and in most fights the need for strategy in these battles is pretty much none existent. It has some nice touches such as the ability to power-up your attacks with chakra and string together various combos in addition to performing special attacks. You even have the addition of support attacks in some battles. But none of this can hide the fact that the battle system is simplistic and comes nowhere near the depth of what you’d expect to find in a dedicated fighting game.
Of course the shallow battles don’t hurt the experience as much in the Ultimate Adventure mode as much as they do in the Free Battle and Online Battle modes where the focus is solely on battles and as a result the appeal of those modes is seriously diminished. The boss battles in Ultimate Adventure mode are much more involving and as a result much more interesting. The boss battles do call for strategy however and as a result they are much more compelling. You’ll notice over the top action sequences and some quick time events here too. Some of the boss battles can be annoying but for the most part they are enjoyable and far more satisfactory than the standard battles you’ll encounter in the game.
The number of mind-numbing quests that you’ll carry out in order to get the really enjoyable parts of the game in the Ultimate Adventure mode is disappointing. There’s a lot of travelling back and forth carrying out trivial objectives and this really does break up the flow of the game. These menial tasks are here for no other purpose than to pad out the experience. It could be argued that whilst you’re exploring the beautiful environments completing these seemingly pointless tasks that you get to search for hidden items that can then be sold and enable you to purchase new items. The problem is that none of this does anything to enhance the experience or hide the fact that you’re visiting the same locations over and over again and that’s a real shame.
Everything from the look of the characters to the over the top combat sequences looks like it’s straight from the anime and for that the developers deserve high praise. It’s not just the various environments in the game that looks great. The boss fights in particular look spectacular and are arguable some of the most visually dramatic in a console game to date. The frame rate holds up nicely too and the battles flow just as they should as a result. What will annoy you are the load times in the game. The length of the load times isn’t bad but you’ll see load screens far too often and it’s something that needlessly breaks up the rhythm of the game which is a pity.
On loading the game you’ll notice that the opening cut scene isn’t subtitled. Thankfully you’ll see this cut scene when you begin the Ultimate Adventure mode and it is subtitled there. The game’s cut scene subtitles don’t display any speaker names or portraits but are shown against a black background for maximum clarity. In-game dialogue shows the speaker’s name, is placed in either a speech balloon or dialogue box and can be read at your own pace as you need to press the X button to move the conversation forward. Tutorial messages are given in text and can be recalled at any time from the start menu. The game uses a variety of icons to convey information and you can find a full explanation of what these icons mean in the game’s tutorials. All mission details are given in text so you’ll know exactly what a mission entails and the rewards on offer for the successful completion of it before deciding whether to take it or not.
Whilst it’s probably stating the obvious that Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is a game that will appeal to fans of Naruto, it’s a little surprising that the game also has appeal for those who may not consider themselves to be fans of the manga or anime but it is Naruto fans who will get the most from the experience. Taken on its own merits, Ultimate Ninja 2 is a fine game that’s very enjoyable and doesn’t rely too much on prior knowledge of Naruto. Those looking at the game purely for the fighting aspect will be disappointed however. The combat system is shallow and certainly doesn’t offer the level of quality you would expect to find in a dedicated fighting game. Not only are most fights easy, they are very repetitive. Thankfully there’s much more to the game than the combat however and it has to be said that Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is a surprisingly enjoyable experience.