aruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm is a game that takes the visual blending of anime-to-game to a new level. Unfortunately the gameplay leaves much to be desired, particularly when compared to past games in the Ultimate Ninja series.
The story of Naruto Storm covers events from the very beginning of the anime to the Sasuke Leaving arc. However there is one major arc that is omitted, that being the Land Hidden in Mist arc. While not a terrible loss, Naruto purists will be sure to find offense at the omission. There are also some minor alterations to the main story arcs but on the most part they stay true to the source material.
Konoha village is beautiful.
And boring.Visuals in this game are astounding: the game looks almost exactly like the anime when it's in motion. It's only apparent that you're looking at a game when there's not much going on, on the screen. The audio design is also strong. Sound effects are taken from the anime, and the music is appropriate when it has to be; light and serene when you're exploring Konoha and fast-paced during fights.
Combat controls are relatively simple and can be quickly picked up. Each character has access to two special attacks, a basic ninjutsu attack and an ultimate ninjutsu attack. Basic ninjutsu attacks can be selected before multiplayer matches, while in the campaign you can only select what basic ninjutsu attacks you want during side quests. Unfortunately, the Ultimate ninjutsu attacks are set for each character; this is unfortunate, as past Ultimate Ninja games had multiple ultimate attacks for each character. As a result there is less variety in your attacks as there was before.
To offset this is a new feature to the series, which is the use of support characters. During certain missions you have one to two support characters there to assist you in battle. With a single press of a button you can call one in and they'll jump in, perform a ninjutsu attack and then take off. This is a useful new addition as it can save you, should get pinned down by an opponent. In versus matches you have free choice as to what support characters that you want to use.
These few strong points of the game are overshadowed by serious issues with gameplay. The single player campaign allows you to explore Konoha and in some respects it acts like a hub world. However, that only applies to the side quests; missions are otherwise selected through the pause menu, which doesn't make much sense since there is a hub area that is begging to utilized better. What Konoha village ends up being used for is an area to grab collectibles.
This becomes boring quickly, for a few reasons. For one the most collectibles rest after each mission, and secondly the collectibles need to be found in large amount to be useful and even then all they do is give you more support attacks. It becomes a mindlessly repetitive task, and it is not the end to the repetition. There are very few mission options, which are largely limited to battles, and two kinds of races. Both the main story and side quests make use of all of these options, to an annoying excess.
Strong points are overshadowed
by serious issues with gameplay.The biggest issue with this is that the player is forced to go through the side missions as all of the campaign missions require experience points which can only be earned by completing side missions. This is tedious behavior at its best.
To add insult to injury, all missions get bonus objectives once they're cleared and there are missions related to clearing bonus objectives. This wouldn't be such an issue if there were more options for mission type but there sadly aren't. The last major issue with the game is with the load times: encountered before and after missions, they can last for up to several minutes. This is very disappointing to see particularly since the game has a mandatory HD install.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm doesn't live up to the standards set by past games in the series but there is plenty of room for improvement if the repetition issues can get ironed out.