Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, developed by Cyber Connect 2 and published by Bandai-Namco Entertainment, is the latest and possibly last entry into the Ultimate Ninja Storm series of games. With the experience that Cyber Connect 2 has with the franchise, does Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 continue a trend of good adaptations of the source Manga and Anime material, or does Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 feel like yet another entry in a series that really needs to end?
Title:Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Platform:Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows Publisher:Bandai-Namco Entertainment Developer:Cyber Connect 2 Genre: Fighting/Action Release Date: Available Now Price: $49.99 (Source: Amazon.com) Disclosure:Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 provided by Bandai-Namco Australia for review purposes.
The story of Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 takes place right after the events of Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst, during the ‘Fourth Shinobi World War’ arc of the Manga/Anime. The events contained within the main story mode pretty much mirror the Manga/Anime note for note. All the major battles of the series are parts of the story, so expect the usual things of form changes, “you haven’t seen all my power”, and other Shonen Jump story tropes throughout this mode.
Basically, the events of the ‘Fourth Shinobi World War’ involves yet another Uchiha family member being evil (A common thing in Naruto series) and Naruto & Sasuke have to team up to defeat him. This leads into more power bad guys, demons and other things being introduced and defeated throughout the game. There’s also the typical Sasuke turns evil storyline (yet again) and Naruto uses the power of friendship to make Sasuke see the light just in time to beat down the ultimate multi-form evil guy and save the village, the world, and all that usual jazz. This is as Shonen Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 gets. I’d break more down for you, but there are a million Wiki articles out there which can do that for me.
However, where things change are the side missions that get unlocked during the playthrough of Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4’s main story mode. These side stories are mostly either backstory flashbacks or filler pieces from the Anime; such as the history of Kakashi and Obito, further exploring Obito’s descent into evil. Another side story follows Sasuke and his group as they resurrect the former Hokage and Sasuke questions them as to the meaning of the village and shinobi. These side stories are great for people like me that haven’t been following the Naruto Shippuden storylines in either Manga or Anime format for a long time.
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is told via a branching tree style system. You get 2 paths to look at over the same story and you get to choose which part you get to do first. At the end of each branch, things come back together to end each section, or episode if you prefer. This is a big change for me as I’m used to a more linear style story structure, but it’s something I’m sure a lot of people would like.
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4’s gameplay is meant to be simple. You have a button to throw shurikens, a button to punch people in the face, a button to charge up your power, a button to jump, one more to dodge/guard, and 2 buttons to swap out or call out support characters. This seems simple, but it’s the biggest pain in the ass I’ve ever had to deal with. Your introduction to all this is wrapped up in a very busy 2-minute introduction scene in the story mode and then you get thrown right into the thick of things. This makes for a terrible impression of the game’s controls, if not Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 in general. A number of times I found myself fumbling for the right button to press while getting my ass stomped got controller throwing frustrating. Several times I put Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 down because I lost a fight because I missed one single guard moment.
The other gameplay frustration is the Interactive Actions (Pretty much Quite Time Events renamed since QTE’s have a very bad stigma attached to them) that pop up during the cinematic battle sequences. You can’t tell what any of the things mean till it’s too late. So many times I’d lose a scene because I couldn’t tell if the IA was a press, hold, or button mash action. Also, the rate at which these things appear is so instantaneous that it borders on unfair. I’m in the middle of a fight and suddenly I’ve failed an IA because I was in the middle of a combo.
Finally, Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is completely unbalanced. From the second you begin the game you are fighting opponents who will dodge and substitute technique (Basically replacing themselves with a piece of wood or another object while they teleport behind you) 100% of the time while you are limited to 4 times of using the same techniques, then wait while these times reload. Again, I’m failing battles because I’m too limited while my opponent is too overpowered. Speaking of overpowered, there is a new mechanic in Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 that is both a help and a hindrance: The Armour Break. Through the fight, or due to specific conditions being met, your opponents or your armour or clothing can break, giving someone more chance to inflict more damage.
Luckily, Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 gives you a small bit of an advantage once you have failed a story mission. Upon death, you are presented with 2 paths to take upon continuing: You either get a defensive or attack based buff while you regain 100% health and your opponent is left with the amount of health you bashed out of them. while this is a good thing and one of the only things Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 has in its favor, it’s something that you shouldn’t need to have nor have to rely on to get through the game.
Finally, you do have support characters that you can call upon to inflict more damage or team up with to do a high damage attack. Now given that the opponents will dodge EVERYTHING, the chances of hitting one of these moves is slim to none. In team fights, it does get a slight bit easier if you call them at the right time, but again, since the opponents in Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 are super powered Shinobi that can and will dodge and block EVERY GOD DAMN MOVE; what’s the point?
Can you tell I’m pissed off with the gameplay yet? I sure hope so.
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4’s graphics are second to none. Everything is so bright, animated and over the top that it looks like an interactive version of the anime. Everything shines and sparkles with power that makes you feel like you’re really blowing things up without doing any real damage to the surroundings… So Anime! Facial expressions are amazing in Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, and it’s not just the cut scenes. During battle you can notice the determination on the character’s faces as they fight, throw verbal jabs at each other, and go overboard when they unleash their ultimate attacks. Explosions look pretty and fiery!
Even the scale of characters is amazing. The large scale demons move around in such a lumbering manner through a forest that makes you feel the power of their size in every fight. Even with the inclusion of QTE events doesn’t break the illusion of the animation at all. Everything looks exactly like it should without having to resort to weird cell shading tricks like other games have in the past (I’m looking at you every Dragon Ball Z game ever). Plus due to the graphical processing power of modern consoles, Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 suffers no lag or anything when it comes to changing characters in the game, nor when it changes from battles into cut scenes and back again. The only issue I have with Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4’s storytelling through the post-fight scenes is that they are slightly animated stills from the anime, which pulls the otherwise great style into annoying territory.
The character’s themselves in Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 move without any clipping issues while maintaining all the woosh and swoosh of their clothing. Speaking of clothing, there are a few small additions when it comes to the armor breaking mechanics. Fire burns clothing off in such a way that it looks amazing. Honestly, I’ve lost a few fights in Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 due to being distracted by the graphical details in the characters, clothing, and backgrounds. Truely Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is the best-animated video game of this generation.
Sound wise, there’s not much to talk about in Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. Everything is as it should be. The music and ambient sound is taken right from the anime soundtrack and is mixed extremely well with every situation. Each slice, punch, grunt and effect noise is spot on and makes sure that you feel the impact in your ears with every attack.
The spoken audio comes in the usual 2 favours: English and Japanese. You can choose either one or the other to sit through. Personally, I’m still one of those anime snobs that will always switch the audio to Japanese and read my way through the game with subtitles, but the English audio isn’t as ear destroying horrible as the early English Naruto anime sub was.
If there is one thing I will recommend you do from the very beginning on the Playstation 4 version; it goes into the options and turns the controller volume to nothing. Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is one of the few games that actually uses the controller’s speaker to relay the same audio you’ll be hearing on your TV. This creates an annoying echo effect that really distracts from the enjoyment of the game.
At the end of the day, it’s a shame to see a game get things so right in the presentation but fail so badly in content and gameplay. If Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 was an anime, then I’d be praising the crap out of it from beginning to end. The presentation of the animation and sound is 100% spot on and amazing. However where Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 fails the most is being an actual enjoyable GAME. The terrible controls and unbalanced gameplay are huge let downs for Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. I really came into this excited to see the adaptation of the source material that I’ve missed through not watching the Naruto Shippuden anime or reading the manga, but in the end, I left disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy this as a game. If this is the last Ultimate Ninja Storm game, then Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is a really bad way to end it all.
All said and done, Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is just an adaptation of the source material and nothing more. While there is Free mode and a lot of story content, it feels like there isn’t much there at all. Once you’ve finished the story mode and side missions, why bother continuing? Sure there’s DLC content to look forward to, but it’s just one of those things that I wouldn’t feel all that good about buying. The terrible controls make this a slog to get through, but the animation and sound is spot on in such a manner in which Naruto fans will feel happy with their purchase.
The anime come to life in amazing detail.
A nice long detailed story.
Branching paths giving the player a choice.
The worst controls ever made.
Large roster makes things hard to keep balanced.
Feels a bit stale content wise.
The most faithful adaptation of any Manga/Anime ever!