Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 – Game Analysis and Review
By Christopher Jester
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Series: Naruto – Ultimate Ninja
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Modes: Single-Player, Multiplayer
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 appeals to its core fan base by giving them exciting combat ripped right out the manga and the television show, where it ultimately follows its source material to near-perfection, albeit it to its own detriment in certain instances.
Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 picks up right where it left in Ninja Storm 2 – Pain is defeated and Naruto is heralded as a hero but the evil Akatsuki, masterminded by the mysterious Masked Man, continues to pull strings and manipulate what will become the start of the Fourth Great Ninja War. Fans of the source material will rejoice that the game covers many major arcs, such as the Kyuubi’s (Nine-Tails) attack on Konoha 16 years ago, the Five Kage Summit, the Kushina Uzumaki arc, and the outbreak of the Fourth Great Ninja war.
One of the major problems that UNS3 faces is not the inclusion of these many arcs but how they presented them in the actual game. The main mode is Ultimate Adventure mode and it is similar to its predecessors, allowing the players to control several of the main characters throughout the narrative. There is so much storytelling in this particular entry that it dulls down the experience. This would not be such a bad thing if the game actually allowed you to play out more moments or better yet, cut down on the length of certain scenes.
For instance, during the Kushina Uzumaki arc there is literally an episode’s worth of cutscenes that went on entirely too long. Fans who know this story inside and out would rather likely re-read the issues or watch the show itself. 30 or more minutes of unbridled cutscenes is simply too much. Yes, the player can skip the scenes, but the story is such a major focus on this mode that it begs to question if this could have just been handled differently. Through most of the game, the player is left sitting on their couch watching it rather than playing it. Sprinkled throughout the adventure mode is a few battles here and there that barely differs at all; this cuts down on that hair-raising excitement that the rest of the game attempts to offer.
The only justification of playing this mode is for its boss battles. Simply put: they are epic. It features some of the best visuals in a video game and the way CyberConnect allows their players to interact in the battles are impressive. Each boss battle is unique and requires an extra play-through just to take in the grand delight that players are surely to experience from it. Whether it is the Naruto/Sasuke fight in the Team 7 reunion, or the Nine-Tails attack, these cinematic quick-time events are intermingled with free-flowing battles that contribute to the action that the manga and show is known for.
The regular fights are what most people will play this game for, and it is rather easy to pick up and learn. There are a few simple actions: throw a shuriken, jump, attack, and charging chakra. This is the main few buttons. The guard and substitute buttons will be become more technically used, but the most important new one is the Instant Awakening. This technique allows the player to gain a supercharged version of their character without having to be near death. It could be Guy-Sensei opening up his Gates or Konan transforming into her Origami Angel form.
For the most part, each character plays the same. But taking some time to master the controls and each player’s jutsu may make players say otherwise. This simple control scheme can become deadly to someone who has dedicated hours to learning the ins and outs of the game.
More in-depth players will find ways to make this easy-to-use system more strategic and that was evident after a few attempts online. Players have the choice of taking their customized teams of unlocked characters online to duke it out. The online mode is amassed of unranked player modes and ranked player modes. Combined with a tournament mode, there are only a few ways to play the game online but it does match the same over-the-top action from the story and free battle modes.
The last few notable changes come from Legend and Hero choices and palettes. These choices make very little difference but offers points to customizing the ninja tool palettes. Throughout the game the player will come across ninja tools that they can use in battle. Except this time around, the ninja tools are assigned only to a specific palette; Legend or Hero. These tools (paper bombs, food pills, etc.) can be unlocked through special requirements during battles or bought in stores; then assigned onto a palette before a battle. The other change comes from the large battles of computer controlled AI in the Ultimate Adventure Mode. These characters (White Zetsus and samurai) are littered in a room and easy to take out, giving the player the feeling of superiority.
On a side note: this game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 version and there were some framerate issues; particularly when participating in aforementioned large battles. So far, no report on if the PlayStation 3 version has these issues.
Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is an accessible game to fans of Naruto, with simple controls and a storyline that will provide the player ample enough narrative. In the end, it spends too much time rehashing the source material and not enough time polishing the fighting system. It is a worthy pickup for any fan of the series, with over 80 characters and great visuals. Exciting action may be enough for some but expect to find the story mode too long and somewhat repetitive; especially players who follow the manga or show religiously.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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