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Title:
  Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm

Platform:  Sony Playstation 3

Developed by:  CyberConnect 2

UK Distributor:  Bandai

ELSPA rating: 12+

Original Retail Price (SRP):  £39.99

Current Value:  £24.75

Reviewer:  Matt Dark 
 

Naruto bursts onto Sonyís next generation with his PS3 debut in Ultimate Ninja Storm!  But will the next-gen polish and a new battle system make this the ultimate Naruto game?

Ultimate Ninja Storm
returns to the original story of Naruto again, taking us from the very start of the series and all the way to its climactic battle between Naruto and Sasuke before the time-skip/Shippuden series.  With how popular the series was on the PS2, it was no real surprise that we would see it move forward onto the PS3,  while giving us one last look before they finally move onto the Shippuden series.
 

The first thing that fans of the Ultimate Ninja series will notice, is that the game no-longer using the 'side-on, 2D style' battle system, now you are free to run all over the battleground.  By doing this the game gives you a little more freedom to avoid your enemy, to create some distance to charge up for a special attack, and even adds in a new dodging system to accompany it.

This aside the controls have remained pretty

similar, players still mash on the Circle button to unleash a number of different combos, or press triangle a few times before attacking to go into a jutsu (Special attack). 

There are a few notable changes to the controls though.  At the start of a battle, each character is equipped with four items, these may heal you, power you up or even damage your opponent.  But instead of cycling through them and unleashing them with a tap of the Square button (which is used solely for throwing shuriken) each item has been mapped to a button on the D-Pad, giving you quick and easy access to them. 

The other addition is the support characters.  Before a fight, you can choose two characters that will aide you in battle.  By simply tapping L1/R1, you will be able to summon one of these characters, who will attack the enemy, working as a great way to deal more damage, or even break an enemy combo.

Aside from the options and the versus mode, the only other thing available to the player is the 'Ultimate Mission Mode'.  Here you can replay the entire Naruto story, taking part in some of the most notable moments in each arc.  Or at least thatís the idea.

For the most part, the main story seems to be left untouched.  Most of the time, we are treated to a simple mission briefing to try and give us an idea about what is currently going on.  Only a few moments are given added attention in the form of a small cutscene. 

For the duration of the story you will find yourself running around Konoha village, which has been created beautifully for you to explore.  Here you will be able to choose what missions to do, be it story or side-missions.  Each will offer you rewards, such as money and items, along with scrolls that can be picked up.  The structure works quite well, as you are free to go around and do what you like, as each new mission you finish unlocks points towards opening new missions relating to the story mode, so there is always something there to keep you busy.


The only problem with this mode is, that for something which takes us from the start to finish of the Naruto series, it does not do a good job of informing you on what is happening.  Yes, a Naruto fan will already know the story (such as why Naruto has chased after Garaa, why Hinata and Neji are fighting) but anyone who is playing this without any knowledge of the series will most probably be lost. If that werenít enough,while

fans may already know whatís going on, they will instead be wondering what happened to certain characters, or even whole sections of the story.

In the first story arc (Ninja training) the battles against Haku and Zabusa are missing entirely, even the characters themselves are strangely missing from the character line-up.  It is odd, considering this was probably Narutoís first real challenge and one of the first hints of his hidden power.  So to entirely remove this section seems rather odd.

While this doesn't break the story, it certainly does confuse.  Back in Ultimate Ninja 3, pretty much every major character from the series had been included, so it was surprising to see that some characters were left out and a large majority of others are support-only characters.

The story mode isn't the best, but it has plenty to keep you going.  Each mission has extra objectives added to it after being completed once, such as completing a match with so much health/chakra, or finishing the fight with a specific attack.  These all extend the games lifespan, giving you something to do if you want to say that you have fully completed what the game offers you.  The battle system on the other hand is different, and certainly takes a moment to get used to, but it's fast and fluid and should be plenty of fun to play against friends.

While its story mode is a little shaky and not for newcomers, the PS3 debut of Naruto is still a fine game and, dare I say, as good as Ultimate Ninja 3, which as you know from my previous reviews, is my favourite game from the series PS2 days.

Extras

As is standard with the Ultimate Ninja series, there are a number of extra items you can purchase in the game.  Character figures, music CD's and Jutsu videos are all still present, and it will take a long time to collect the money for them all.

A nice addition to these, is the Diorama pieces.  By completing certain story missions, you will receive a Diorama base.  By buying the items listed with the base, you will unlock a special figure which show off sections of some battles from throughout the series.

Ratings

Game: Extras:

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