Platform: X-BOX 360, Playstation 3
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Rating: T for Teen
Anime-based video games…it’s the one type – if you could call it a type – of video games that usually doesn’t leave a good taste in people’s mouths. Reason why: while the series provides crazy, over-the-top action, the game puts heavy limits on how over-the-top the mayhem can get. However, there have been a few games that have gotten fans attention recently. The main one being the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series, Ultimate Ninja Storm being its highly-acclaimed hit. Can the sequel raise the bar on what its predecessor brought to the table?
First off, if you know the story of Naruto, either because you follow the manga/anime series, then you know what’s going on and you want to skip this part. With that being said…
Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 picks up where its predecessor – and the entire season of Naruto – left off. The story revolves around an older and slightly more matured Uzumaki Naruto and his quest to save his friend Uchiha Sasuke from the grips of the snake-like Shinobi, Orochimaru. After 2 and a half years Naruto finally returns to his village of Konoha, and sets about putting his ambitions to work, though it will not be easy, as He has amassed a few (more dangerous) enemies, in the likes of the shinobi organization; Akatsuki.
To start this off, I’ll say this: if you have a game that can draw in fans, even when they aren’t fans of the series or Japanese animation in general, then you have a solid pro. The combat in this game is where the game shines at. Combat has a high risk of getting insane, which is exactly how it is in the series. Every move can still be evaded with the Kawarimi no Jutsu (Substitution Jutsu – a well-timed block will get you behind the opponent when he attacks), which is still one of the best defensive mechanic in fighting games. Reason why: it makes sure that there's no chances for infinite combos.
An improved feature that they’ve added to the game is the Team Assists, which is a pro. With the addition of the Support Drive meter and the option to choose what type of support your character does (attack, defense, and balance), it adds a new depth to the combat. It gives the option of letting a character continue a combo, stopping an opponent from charging in, and even pushing the character out of the way when an Ougi (Ultimate Jutsu) lands. And, there’s also the Triple-Team Ultimate, where all three characters attack, ending with the main character performing his finishing technique on the opponent.
A personal pro of mine is how well the story was done in the game. Simply put, when you do story mode, you’re literally playing the series. All the events in the game are the same thing that happened in the series, which is another plus for the game. Also, the crazy boss battles that the predecessor had are back and better than ever. And with 44 characters in the game, including Lars Alexandersson from Tekken 6 (his alternate costume in Tekken 6 was designed by Masashi Kishimoto, creator of Naruto)…well, it’s self-explanatory from there.
Sadly, there are some objectionable downsides of the game and they have to do with what was taken out of the game. A main con is the loss of the Jutsu Clashes, where if two techniques collide, the two players will battle it out in a button-mashing contest to see who wins. It’s no longer in there so if two Jutsus hit, they’ll cancel each other out unless the technique’s not a projectile.
Another con is the loss of the Ougi Battles. When a player did an Ougi (Ultimate Jutsu), they would have to input a displayed button command to see if the move would connect. With that no longer in the game, it’s just a case of “if it hits, then it’s over”. Not that it takes anything away from the game overall, but it’s a bit of a downer in my eyes.
For fans of the series (video games, anime or both), Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is a must to buy. If you’ve played the first one, then you’re going to enjoy this new installment. Everything that was great in Ultimate Ninja Storm is back along with new stuff and an Online mode, so you’ll be getting your $60 worth. And if this is your first introduction to the Ultimate Ninja Storm series, well…you’ll have your mind blown away by this game. Crisp graphics, an excellent story mode with good replay value, epic boss battles and combat that rivals the action in the series…you can’t ask for more.
Final Rating: 4 out of 5