Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Review
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment– Developer: CyberConnect2
Consoles: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC– Release Date: February 5th.
*Disclaimer* The reviewer was granted a review code from Bandai Namco
When it comes to the Naruto franchise, I can’t say that I’ve been a loyal fan. Truth be told, I consider myself more as the occasional visitor than loyal fan. Which makes the Ultimate Ninja Storm series so impressive by drawing in someone like me, who dropped the anime/manga around the beginning of Shippuden.
The only reason I know as much as I do about the plot is because of what the video games have told me. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 concludes The Fourth Great Ninja War and brings an end to the this Ultimate Ninja Storm arc.
Unfortunately, I never had the chance to play the original UNS since it came out before I brought a PS3. The good news though is that I did managed to play every other title to release afterwards; allowing me to justify my experience for this particular title. As such, I can say not much has changed between UNS: Revolution and the series’ final entry.
UNS 4 does come with a few adjustments and brings back a feature not seen since the original game but in the end, it is overly similar to previous installments. Should this be a negative consideration? Yes and no because these Naruto games are among the best anime fighting games out there right now but also suffers from stagnation.
Developer CyberConnect 2, the company that has been working on this series since the beginning, gave the fans practically everything they wanted with this installment. By keeping the core aspects of the title intact, CyberConnect 2 went ahead and crafted, what I consider, the best of the series. By doing this, UNS 4 ends on a great note and even though future Naruto games are inevitable, this particular entry serves as a good conclusion.
Within this title, players can expect to find about roughly 80% of the game mirrors previous entries. The visuals still have the same crisp, smooth flowing animations that allows this game to look just like the anime. Combat still functions the same way as before. Players will make use of various ninja tools and extensive combos to drop their opponents health.
Combos are just as flashy and stylish as ever and that goes double for the ultimate jutsu specials. These moves are on par with DBZ‘s level and finishing off any human opponent with these is sure to add salt into the wound. Awakenings still make an appearance to give near-KO players a chance at a comeback. Seeing Naruto go full Tail Beast mode somehow never gets old.
The game also received little adjustments to give combat more of an attractive flair.
What kind of adjustments you say? Well, fans have been asking for the wall-running feature since it was taken out of the original game. With this entry, the wall-run mechanic as been re-introduced and adds a deeper dynamic to the combat system. Which is sorely needed because this series has never been one for strategic depth.
In the greatest sense, UNS acts as a double-edged sword thanks to the exact reason I enjoy the game. After five similarly constructed titles, I feel as if I’ve been playing the same game over the course of many years. While on one hand I appreciate the familiar combat and set up, I ultimately can’t shake the feeling that UNS4 suffers from stagnation. I had no desire left in me to keep playing after completing the game and really, only the boss battles sparked interest in me.
There was also an option to choose between three different fighting styles in Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, which no longer exists in UNS4, but instead returns to the previous formula for activating Awakenings and Ultimate Jutsu moves. Armor and weapons can now be destroyed during combat, weakening whichever fighter has their equipment damaged.
Playing into the Armor Break as it’s called, elemental damage can now be used to affect a character’s well-being. For example, using a fire type jutsu could result in the burning away of clothing toward whoever received the brunt of the attack. Not every character is affected the same way, so don’t expect fire moves to work on everyone.
Support characters can be swapped in and out of combat a là Marvel Vs. Capcom style but share only one health gauge. While I initially thought having three separate characters share one health gauge to be silly, in actuality, said health gauge contains two bars and this would make for a total of six health gauges on one side. Imagine how long fights would be if players had to knockdown six bars before a winner was decided. Last I checked, intense boss battles are reserved for the story mode only.
UNS 4 is at its best when playing through the story section. Though some plot moments could have been explained a lot better, the QTE fights make story mode shine above all other options. Simply put, the boss fights are a delight to watch, especially for the anime fans out there.
My major gripe with story mode are the still anime cutscenes where the plot is told through pictures rather than animation. I say this because there were quite a few moments where I had become confused as to what just happened as a result of the pictures not capturing the full scene properly. Not to mention, swapping between picture and animation cutscenes made progression of the plot cumbersome. Though in the end, I suppose most Naruto fans already know how this story goes.
If I were to compare this game to the Naruto anime, story mode would be the episodes where awesome moments took place, be it mind-boggling combat or a cunning plot twists. Adventure mode on the other hand, is like all those pointless fillers that accomplish nothing except wasting time.
Throughout the course of adventure mode, players are tasked with completing benign requests given by nameless NPCs or series mainstays like Tsunade. These requests do nothing to further Naruto’s tale and the little bits of story they do tell comes across as pointless banter.
To be fair, I’ve never liked the exploration portions of any UNS title. I wanted the game to flow from cutscene to cutscene with only fights placed in between to break up cinematic moments. With UNS 4, I finally got my wish in the campaign this time. That all being said, I did wind up completing adventure mode as well, simply because I wanted the drag to end.
Besides the two main modes, players can take to training with the AI in Free Mode or hop online to do battle with players across the world. Of the few matches I did play, I encountered no lag or drop off with the frame rate. Connecting to other players went by smoothly without a hitch as well. I only wish I could say the same about the fights I had. I did wind up losing more often than I’d like to admit, hence why I only played a handful of matches. By now, anyone left playing online still is probably a god among men.
+ Story mode provides the best fights
+ The new combat additions
+ Over 100 playable characters
+ The visuals do the Naruto name justice
– Adventure mode feels like filler fluff
– Alternating between picture & animation cutscenes is awkward
– Suffers from series stagnation
As with many anime games, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 was made specifically with fans of the series in mind. CyberConnect2 didn’t drastically change anything for the concluding chapter and so with that I can safely say: if players experienced one UNS title, they’ve experienced them all.
For fans yes. Others? Questionable
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