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Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst

Review Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst (Europe)

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Review Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst (17 Reviews)

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25 May 2018
Review by HexCD (read 5 reviews)

So a few years ago- before I bought the game on Steam- I was bored one day and decided to play this game. Originally it was a joke, I was a fan of Naruto and Ultimate Ninja as a kid but as an adult my interest in the show was pretty much nil and the games pretty much met the same fate after a disaster of a romp through the demo back when UNS first came out (to say nothing of what I think of the latter now). So I booted up the game, watched the opening cutscene, and immediately remembered what it was that I loved about CyberConnect 2.

Ultimate Ninja STORM 3 is an Arena-style Fighting game that, for the most part, is pretty simplistic. The main draw of this game, as odd as it might sound for a Fighting game, is its story. Now, probably the biggest problem with Bandai porting UNS 3 specifically is that UNS3, despite originally starting before the events of the series, the game is mostly still a sequel to UNS2, and while the events are referenced and mentioned, it doesn't actually give any real form of a recap. This in mind, the Ninja Timeline lets you replay fights that took place in the past with descriptions, so if you do find yourself wanting to brush up on the story a bit, the option's there.

One thing that's worth noting about the game's Story Mode is that it represents what, to me, is the biggest selling point for the Ultimate Ninja Storm series: the presentation. I mentioned above that, before I played this game, I was basically pretty Naruto neutral. The anime's quality varied too often and had too many episodes for me to want to get back into and I just couldn't motivate myself to read the manga. I'd say my stance on the series had basically become that of the masses and it was just kind of...there. Along comes Ninja Storm 3 to practically sweep me off my feet thanks to CyberConnect 2's amazing cinematic direction. There aren't too many games I can think of that can present their anime titles in such a way that they really feel like their own, that they don't simply feel like a cash-in of a product that was more popular as an anime/manga/LN/VN/take your pick.

The Story Mode has a bit of exploration in between its cutscenes and fights, but for the most part, it's told in the latter two formats- after beating the story you can explore as you wish, so there's no real loss here. Though, when compared to something like Ubisoft's Rise of a Ninja series, the exploration here definitely feels rather lackluster. This is something of an unfair comparison, though, as that series was partially advertised for its exploration, but even when compared to the original Ultimate Ninja games (2 and 3 in particular), the exploration feels superficial during the campaign and unintuitive after all's said and done. However, it rarely lasts for a long enough time that it's particularly boring.

When a fight does take place, you will be taken to a menu that will allow you to ready your ninja tools. For the most part this is pretty arbitrary and it's unlikely that you'll actually use them, but it's an option. From here the fight will begin, assuming you aren't given an Ultimate Decision. Ultimate Decisions are points in the game where you need to make a choice and that choice will affect the fight. In a very brass tacks sense, this is just choosing the difficulty of a fight and if you know how hard you want it to be, you'll know which one you want to pick, usually. But this difficulty switch generally feels pretty tangible, and while the choice has no real affect on the story, it does affect the gameplay.

For example, at the beginning of the game you're presented with a choice between saving going to protect the currently-under-fire Leaf Village or investigating the strange masked man that was at the scene. Should you choose the former, which is a Hero's Path option, you'll skip the first fight with the Masked Man and go straight to controlling the Third Hokage. In the Legend Path, though, you do both.This decision isn't always as simple as just skipping parts of fights, however. In later parts of the game, the decision can change the nature of a fight altogether or change it in smaller, more interesting ways. It's a system that could've been a lot more superficial than it turned out to be but actually adds a bit of replay value to the story.

As for the fights themselves, these are, as stated above, pretty simple. Combos are generally as simple as either attacking with the one attack button or attacking with the one attack button and also inputting a direction, and you also have a ranged attack and a justsu at your disposal, as well as a Secret Technique. If you're expecting a complex fighting experience here, there's not really much to see. Along with the combos being particularly simple, the jutsu (which basically just means technique), is merely a two button process, that's really all there is to the game. And while this might not sound particularly exciting, the various parts of the gameplay blend together rather nicely.

For the most part, it's a game about maneuverability. The various arenas in the game can be pretty large, but since you're ninjas you'll be jumping and dashing all over the place, and for the most part this feels pretty good. Being able to close the distance between someone and create a similar distance between the two of you all while trying to predict who will strike when so as not to use up your substitutions is harrowing. What are substitutions? Basically the most important mechanic in the game. Essentially, substitutions are a regenerating resource that lets you avoid damage by replacing yourself with an object (a log, usually). Relying on substitutions too much, however, will generally leave you with a depleted resource and no way to defend yourself from your enemy's onslaught. This isn't to say that substitutions make it impossible to maneuver effectively, as it's generally that type of thinking that leads to prophecies being self-fulfilled, but they certainly do play a major part in one's overall mobility.

Also QTEs. In Story Mode, after certain events, the game will go into QTE mode and you'll have to enter actions in time as they appear. Now, most people would generally groan at this, but those who have played the game will probably agree that QTEs rarely see better usage than how they work here. Once the cutscenes start, it's all gratification the whole way through, and you know you're going to be in for some eye candy if you do everything right.

For the unconvinced, here's a prime example of all of the above put to work.

Now, the problem with this fighting system, and the reason I recommend this game for its Story more than anything else, is that the simplicity of the combat can make it a bit tedious. Sure, online play (which works well but can be a bit wonky, especially when playing internationally) and local multiplayer is there to entertain you and there are a few small modes outside of the story to keep things fresh, as well as a bunch of unlockables, but all-in-all this is likely the type of game that (after completion) you'll be playing a lot in short bursts rather than for long periods of time. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but it definitely does leave more to be desired. I can't help but feel that more in the way of customization or just a little more depth to the battle system could really make the game a far more engaging experience, but after completing the game there really isn't all that much to do and it's basically best to just jump into Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (because you really don't need to play Revolution. Really.)

Naruto fan or otherwise, this game is a great showcase of CC2's brand of cinematic excellence and writing and is a great alternative to the anime/manga proper.

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