Saturday, May 14, 2011

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 for the PS3 and 360




So yeah, I am reviewing a game based on an anime license that, in my opinion, is mostly overrated, but the games based on the anime have been getting pretty good reviews. Why is that?! I mean, the show itself ran on for far too long, the characters turned annoying, and just like Bleach and Inuyasha, it just ran on FOREVER. It basically had the Dragon Ball Z illness, where there would be too much filler and not enough fighting. So, how could you take this series and turn it into a somewhat successful series of fighting games? Well, even though it has its bad fighting games, this one is probably in the top 5 best fighting games based on an anime series. Today’s review is Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 for the PS3 and 360. Based on the overrated yet popular anime series of the same name, Ultimate Ninja Storm tries to iron out its faults from the last game, and ends up making a pretty solid game. It isn’t perfect, but if you are not a super fan of the series, then you will probably think of this as a solid and simple fighting game with a few faults that keep it from being anything super amazing. Let’s dive into the Ninja action of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. They need to make the name shorter for the next game.



The story basically follows the Shippuden series, but cuts out the filler that ruined the last series by showing the most important parts of the series. It has Naruto returning to the Hidden Leaf Village after two years of training. The story then revolves around a group of renegade ninjas known as the Akatsuki. These ninjas plan on stealing the sealed demons of certain ninjas like Naruto and Gaara, to use their powers to rule the world and mold it into their favor. It is up to Naruto and friends to stop them and save the village and the world. The story is about as clich├ęd as it gets with predictable outcomes, but the thing that it does better than most anime-based game story lines is that it has some interesting twists here and there, with some sad moments to make an enjoyable yet predictable story. Even if you don’t like the series, you can still admire the twists and turns that it shows. Before I continue, I want to say that I don’t care if I didn’t say every detail of the storyline that happened in the anime, I don’t really care. I am just saying the sum of the story in THIS game, and that’s it.
The gameplay is a mix between a fighting game and an adventure game, where you take on story-specific missions and minor missions on the side. You will reenact multiple fights from the anime storyline and travel across the land to get to those fights. The game is completely linear, with side quests adding as the only diversion from the main storyline. During the fights, you will be using a simple combat system with some tweaks from other fighting game. For one, you are not stuck on a single plane during the matches. You can move around the entire area with some fights, making an exception where you take control of gameplay styles, like a shooter and a God of War-style boss fight. You can also use support attacks ala Marvel Vs Capcom, but no super three-person combo. You can use two types of super moves, one is when you power up once, and the second is when you power up twice. During some fights, you will need to use the modern day gimmick of quick-time events to get through major parts of the fight. If you mess up on one of the commands, you will just restart during that one part of the quick-time event. You can also use items to give yourself an advantage in battle, like a faster chakra recharge pace or a stronger defense. You can use weapons, like bombs and throwing projectiles, to poison your opponent. There is a good amount of depth to the fighting system since you only use one button to activate the moves. When you are not fighting, you are basically either doing side quests or running from one location to another while watching cut scenes and watching the scenes in either Japanese or English dub with English subtitles. After you are done with the main storyline, there is an extra chapter you can play through, but I will make sure you find that out for yourself. The game will take about 10 to 15 hours in the single player campaign, with a pretty typical multiplayer mode after that, where you can play as all the characters you have unlocked. Overall, you have got a lot to play with.
The graphics are just extremely well done, matching the anime series it’s based on, and even surpassing it a little. It’s creepy how good the graphics are for this game. The music is also well done, but there are not a lot of the show’s original tracks. Some of the fights are just amazing to watch and take part in with a lot of amazing moves and in my opinion are much better to watch than the animated version. They are so dynamic and well executed, which makes me wish I could just get extras where I could watch the pro players or programmers play through the game, like the super guide in Donkey Kong Country Returns. The Japanese voice acting is actually more enjoyable than the English cast, even though you have some big names from the industry in the game. The Japanese dub just makes some of the bland and annoying characters stand out more with a little passion added into the acting.
However, there are some faults that really stick out and makes this game a flawed experience. A lot of the running around is just boring since you can’t travel by jumping from tree to tree and I would have felt more like a ninja doing that, than just running around. The boss fights are interesting, but a lot of them are downright frustrating and unbalanced. It made me keep hitting a wall when I fought these bosses due to the character not having a solid dodge ability and the AI being super aggressive. It made those specific boss fights not fun, since I couldn’t move and kept on getting attacked. It was just a drag to get through those areas of the game. During the fights, there are side affects added into the fight, like you can’t use your ultra move or you can’t go through this certain status. While it gives the game a good challenge, the boss fights don’t have to go through those same rules, and it made using certain characters just a pain in the butt to control. Just because you want to go through the same fight like in the anime, doesn’t mean you have to make a stupidly unbalanced boss that because of the limitations during the fight, I beat by pure luck after 5 times.
Again, Naruto Shippuden does have its flaws, but it is a pretty solid game and that’s surprising since it’s based on an anime that I said was overrated. I say check it out if you’re curious, since it’s worth a weekend rental, and buy it if you’re a fan. Hopefully, more licensed games can take note from games like Batman Arkham Asylum and now including Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. Let’s just hope they can make the next game even better. Thanks for reading!
This game gets a solid 8 out of 10

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