Review by IDKSI
First Storm game I have played, and I'm glad I picked it up
Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, in my humble opinion, is a really fun game with a few flaws keeping it from greatness. As an avid fan of the series both manga and anime, I decided to pick this game up after doing some research on it, and have been very pleased.
Disclaimer: This is my first ever Gamefaqs review; you have been warned
I think that the game is just beautiful! The character models are all rendered and match their anime counterparts nicely. While the graphics don't look exactly like the anime, I think thats a good thing. because it looks like a video game instead.
As you fight through the story, you will face a wide variety of characters, fight huge bosses, and you will get to visit a multitude of iconic locations from the series. Not one time in my playthrough did I say "well that doesn't look very good." The color, scenery, and vividness of the game really do an excellent job of capturing the Naruto Universe that we all know and love. Even the opening menus have a great amount of detail put into them.
Another big part of this game is the large, large, LARGE amount of cutscenes and action sequences, and I believe that they all look fantastic! There are massive explosions, high paced action, and gripping story moments that are all captured very well within the games engine.
However, there is at least one major fault, and its mainly because the game can get a little big for its britches sometimes. I don't think I experienced this at all throughout the story, but when playing in tournaments or online, if multiple jutsus and teammates start getting called, the game does have framerate issues. This is the sole reason this portion doesn't get a 10 from me.
Now, if we are just talking Naruto as the manga, I would personally give this a 10; but we're not, we are talking about Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 the game, and it does have some setbacks.
The game follows the story immediatley after Naruto's confrontation with Pain, and continues up almost to where the manga is currently. The main form of story progression is through cutscenes, which there are a ton of! Not that that is bad though. One cutscene in particular lasts at least 30 minutes, but it does a wonderful job of getting you immmersed in the story and if you are invested in the series (like me) you may even find yoursef shedding a tear or two! How many times can you say a video game has done that to you before?
My biggest qualm with the story has to do with the so called "Ultimate Decisions" you make throughout the game, as they really don't do anything to effect the way that the plot unfolds. I think that in theory it was a good idea, but basically all it does is ramp up the difficulty (slightly) on certain missions. UNS3 is not a difficult game to begin with, and I would have rather seen two different endings than come to the same road at the end for some additional replay value.
The story also expects you to already know what is going on, so if you are on the fence about getting this and don't know your Naruto lore study it up or you will not have a clue about what's going on.
Not much to say here. I thought that the music fit the mood for the game very nicely. Sad moments had soft piano keys playing in the background, and intense moments revved it up the way you would expect a Naruto game to. Everything in between was pleasant to listen to, it's just... it wasn't the original soundtrack. As much attention to detail as was put into everything else, I really wish they had gone ahead and gotten it, because you just can't replace it. I guess there were some copyright issues preventing its use.
A cast of over 80 characters unite for some seriously over the top action that you can take on in the story mode, locally with friends, or online against the rest of the world! This game is so much fun to play! So why does it get an eight instead of 10, I will explain.
One downside is the very limited free roam that is offered. I almost thought why even include it, but it does open up from otherwise linear paths after you have completed the story. Basically sometimes you will watch a cutscene, then get sent to free roam. After running a short ways you will then enter another cutscene or battle. There is really not much to it other than that. You can talk to NPC's and there are a few sidequest offered, but they really didn't seem worth it to me unless you are going for all of the trophies. It is mainly just a means to an end to get you to the next battle. And that is where the meat of the game is anyway, the battles.
The game has both single and team battles. Single being just you as your character of choice (or who is currently the story character), while team battle allows you to pick one or two support characters to help you. The combat is fast paced, but never too difficult to follow, with exceptions being online sometimes.
You primarily attack with the circle button, or B button if you are on Xbox, and have three varying combos you can perform by just pressing circle and using the analog stick. Triangle is your chakra load button, X is jump, and square is the shuriken button. You have basic, and chakra loaded moves that you can execute by pressing the chakra button followed by a different command. This is how you execute your jutsu and ultimate jutsu attacks. You can also block by holding R2, though it can be broken, and you can use a substitution jutsu by pressing L2 while being attacked.
There are a variety of cancels that you can perform when executing attacks that will allow you to create your own, flashier combos, and add some depth to the gameplay. The most common of these is the Chakra Dash Cancel (CDC). Basically, while comboing or doing another action, you can press triangle and then X immediatly after to cancel whatever you were currently doing. These cancels are what really add the tactical aspects to battles, as well as providing ways to score big damage if you know what your doing.
All that being said, you will have a blast playing through the story mode, but you may experience frustration if you try to take the game online.
For me, it has mainly been connection issues. Lag is very, very abusable in this game. I cannot tell you how many times I have eaten a jutsu because the game read one extra circle press. Basically, when you are fighting someone online you need to conserve your chakra and your substitution jutsus more than anything. Play well, make the other guy run out of substitutes, and then punish them with big damage, thats how its supposed to go. However, get into a room with a little bit of input lag, and your read on when your opponent is going to substitue turns into a Rasengan Barrage because instead of being able to block or chakra cancel, the game said you hit attack again. It is playable though, and playing in rooms with little lag is a lot of fun. Winning against a good opponent is a very rewarding experience, not to mention you get to do all with your favorite Naruto characters! Both ranked and player matches are offered, as well as a tournament mode that I haven't gotten to try yet, but has a variety of different rules.
I would also have liked for this game to have been made with a more competitive aspect to it rather than almost strictly fanservice and casual. There is a skill aspect to it, some players are simply going to be better than you should you pick up the game, but there are some mechanics, like awakenings, that I do not like.
Awakenings are very powerful "super modes" that characters can enter. Don't get me wrong, they look AWESOME and make you feel like a boss when you use them, but they need to go IMO. You could be playing the match of your life, and have your opponent down to half a bar left, but if they manage to get their awakening off they could easily turn the tide back in their favor, and I do not like mechanics that reward players for getting beaten. Instant awakenings are a little different, and can be accessed at the start of the round. I am actually more OK with this approach if it were a more balanced tool. IA's are a very low risk/ high reward mechanic because they can be turned on and off at anytime, even mid-combo, and provide you with unlimited chakra while on. I feel like if there was a severe downside to using them if you didn't use them properly they would be a pretty interesting gameplay aspect.
All of that aside, I will again say that the game is FUN TO PLAY, and that is what games are supposed to be. Just understand as I have come to, that this is not meant to be a competitive fighter, it is meant to be a game where you pick your favorite Naruto characters and see them bring their incredible talents to life. On that aspect, this game delivers on all fronts.
At the end of the day, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is a game made with Naruto fans in mind. I personally enjoy it a ton, and with just a few minor changes to my personal taste this game easily scores a 10 from me. It is a game filled with high paced action, excellent artwork, over the top battles, and most likely your favorite Naruto characters in an original and beautiful universe. If you are an avid Naruto fan and have not picked this up, I say it is worth it. If you are on the fence, download the demo and give it a shot, that is what sold me, just make sure you know the story timeline up through the Pain arc before jumping in.
Final Score: 8/10
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (US, 03/05/13)
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