In the mood for some epic ninja battles? Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst throws you right into the midst of the story’s most explosive point yet.
Just to give you some idea about the kind of wild ride you’re in for, the game’s main storyline opens with Minato, a.k.a. the Fourth Hokage, a.k.a. Naruto’s father, in his famous battle to protect the Hidden Leaf from the Nine-Tails’ rampage. (CyberConnect2 once again delivers its signature macrocosmic scale!)
The story then flashes forward to the aftermath of Pain’s attack on Hidden Leaf. Danzo’s seized power as the Sixth Hokage and, after declaring Sasuke Uchiha a public enemy, has left to join the Five Kage Summit. Held in the Land of Iron, the five greatest Ninja have called this meeting to decide how best to deal with the threat that the Akatsuki pose. Yet even as Naruto, Kakashi and Yamato follow him to plead for Sasuke’s pardon, Sasuke himself is on his way to take revenge on Danzo for the Uchiha massacre! Then things REALLY heat up when the masked man from Akatsuki appears to declare war on the entire Ninja world! Tie up those headbands, boys and girls: it’s going to be a looooong night!
The game’s greatest strength is in how it really draws you into Naruto’s wild and gritty world. Masashi Kishimoto’s saga is already amazing in print and on the screen, but the gaming experience makes it far more immersive. Several segments of the game permit you to just wander around and observe the lush world, be it the village, country or hidden bases. You can play as the various heroes and anti-heroes in the game’s main storyline or participate in a free battle to unleash all your favorite characters’ signature attacks against one another. (Saaayyy, Ino vs. the Raikage? …anyone?)
Ninja Storm 3 is also fun even if you’re not normally a fighting game fan. (Seriously, I find most fighting games about as intuitive as trying to crack a safe at the demolition derby.) But here, the combos aren’t ridiculous. The challenge is more in choosing the right attack for the right moment than punching ten buttons in the exact right order. I also really love how you can choose to charge up your Chakra instead of just waiting for it to refill itself—it really gives the player a sense of control. (Time it right and you can pull off deadly jutsu after deadly jutsu!)
Stylistically, this game is really beautiful. This is cell-shading at its finest, hitting the sweet spot between cartoonish and realistic as the characters interact with their bright-yet-gritty 3D world. The sound editing and music are also top-notch, and, with the anime’s cast returning to voice their characters, you will feel like you’ve stepped into a Naruto Shippuden anime marathon!
One thing I really love is that sometimes the character must make a difficult decision and you get to be the tiebreaker. For example, Minato must choose to either protect Hidden Leaf from the Nine Tails’ attack or chase down his masked assailant. Doing the former increases the player’s “Hero” meter, while the latter increases the player’s “Legend” meter. (Both level up automatically as you fight, but choices end up giving each a large boost.) Even more importantly, it gives you control over the storyline, which is especially satisfying if you already know what normally happens next.
Full Burst adds tons of new content, including a new chapter at the end featuring a new boss character. Add in 100 new missions, sprinkle with a whole mess of new costumes, and glaze with a significant jump in the quality of the cinematics, and you’ve got yourself a really slick experience.
And for you PC fans, the game is finally available on Steam!
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN™: Ultimate Ninja® STORM 3
game software © 2004-2013 NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. NARUTO artwork and elements
© 2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO / 2007 SHIPPUDEN All Rights Reserved.
Hint: If you've already purchased Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, you can upgrade to Full Burst through XBLA and PSN. The only difference is, you won’t get any of the DLC costumes.
by Christopher Turner