Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco
I've generally enjoyed CyberConnect2’s Ultimate Ninja Storm series of Naruto games. And this release, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, is no exception. It’s packed with characters from the anime/manga series, and wall-to-wall action sequences that are so ridiculous and over-the-top that they demand to be seen. Seriously, while I’ve fallen off the Naruto wagon a while ago, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 makes me want to see if the current manga at least lives up to the level of hype that UNS 4 generates. The story mode is absolutely off the rails for the most part, and I loved just about every second of it.
Gameplay isn’t remarkably different from the past games in the series. Most of the punching and kicking is done via one button, making it easy enough to string together combos regardless of skill level. You can create variants in your attacks simply by holding an analog stick in a specific direction, and it’s very easy to use substitution jutsu to warp out of harm’s way when being pummeled. Naruto isn’t what I’d call a defensive fighter, but there’s a certain level of push and pull to any given fight that adds a neat layer of psychological combat to the affair.
The big draw here is the amazing spectacle of specials and finishers. Every character has unique moves that can be performed by loading chakra, done by tapping the assigned face button and then pressing the attack button. Loading chakra once will unleash some sort of special attack, prefaced by a quick animation sequence that generally levels an unsuspecting opponent. More devastating, finisher style attacks are performed by loading chakra twice and then tapping attack, unleashing a larger, more powerful special ability that can be incredibly devastating. This is all kept in check by your chakra meter, which runs out with each special performed, and can generally only be recharged by holding down the chakra button and making yourself temporarily vulnerable.
Additional moves are performed with partners, two of which you can take into battle from the large roster of characters. You can either opt to switch and control a partner completely, or call them in for limited use attacks. You can also partner up for finishers, expanding the number of wild moves at your disposal. Again, the controls for all of this mayhem are incredibly simple and easy to learn, making UNS 4 a great fighter for just about anyone.
In addition to the story mode, which takes some limited branching paths between Naruto and Sasuke’s storylines, there’s a hefty Adventure mode, and online VS. Both of these are pretty standard for the series at this point. Adventure guides you through a new storyline but allows a bit more freedom, you can move between different areas, explore in a third-person view, and complete side quests for various NPC’s. Versus mode is exactly what you’d expect, and still suffers from the balancing issues that’ve plagued previous Ultimate Ninja Storm entries, but still remains a pretty fun experience with friends.
Whether you’ve been playing the series since it began, or this is your first entry in the series. I think Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is certainly worth your time. Even if you don’t have much affinity for the manga or anime, I think you’ll still be in awe by how crazy certain elements of the story get. The spectacle is certainly the selling point here, but it doesn’t hurt that the actual fighting is fast and fun too. So yeah, certainly check out Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 when you get a chance, and I’ll eagerly look forward to whatever CyberConnect2 manages to cook up next.