It seems like only a few years ago we were just getting a Naruto game every six months that was mediocre at best. Unless of course it was part of the Ultimate Ninja series created by CyberConnect2 back in the PS2. Now the latest entry is here with Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 and after a pseudo sequel last year with generations, fans are hungry for a true sequel. Storm 3 not only brings the series back to its previous standards, but now wants to take things a step farther with even more additions than ever before.
The story starts off where Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 stopped with, Naruto beating Pain. It ends with the fifth great ninja war going into full force. This catches the series up to where the anime will be in a few weeks in Japan. For any fans of the English dub, this is a big plus since it greatly pushes the story forward compared to where they are. However, by playing Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, you'll be getting the need to know parts of Naruto Shippuden's story. There are no fillers to keep you from the main story.
The story mode is extremely similar to Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 this time, but with a more streamlined approach. You will not be running around as much as you did before, but there is enough to make you feel like you are an active participant in the game's narrative no matter what ninja you are playing.
While there are still side quests to complete, you only get to start accepting the majority of them once you beat the game's main story. You will no longer be able to get distracted by villagers' request, but this actually helps the game tell its story. The story this time is going to be one you will either love or be bored to death and may be divisive depending on why you like Naruto.
Unlike any of the other Ultimate Ninja Storm titles this one has quite a lot of dialogue-heavy moments early on in the story. And while the game is full of the over the top battles the series is known for, it is hard to deny that these early parts drag things down to a crawl at times. As a fan of the Naruto world and lore these part will surely interest you, but to others, the ninja politics moments will just seem like a way to put you to sleep.
The quick time event battles are now back after skipping a generation and they have not shown their age in the least. These QTE boss fights are what put the Storm series on the map for memorable moments and they help to bring the anime to life.
A big addition to the story this time around is that at certain points you will need to choose how you want to approach a battle. This is a cool idea, but never actually takes the story in a different direction at all. Most cases are "do I want to take this battle on alone?" or "do I want my friends to help me out?". While you can tell there is a difficulty change in your actions, they never seem enough to warrant going the easy route.
Another new way to tackle story mode is in Hack and Slash mode, where you will take down multiple enemies at once. This is done exactly like Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Impact on the PSP and seems to have been a testbed for this mode. They offer a nice change of pace and actually should have been in the game more than just a few times. These fast paced battles are even mixed in with normal boss fights and lead to some of the most challenging sections in the game.
The last two thirds of the game is when the story really kicks things into gear. This if when you'll experience the most as a fan of the series as it takes place during the fifth great ninja war. This world war really lives up to its name and without giving anything away, the story goes into some pretty interesting subjects as well as bringing back quite a lot of familiar faces.It is actually a shame that the story couldn't keep going since the manga is still fighting the war, but the stopping point makes sense and is more than enough to keep you excited for what seems to be the end of Naruto story. However, the lengthy story mode is only part of what makes Ninja Storm 3 such a complete package - the rest comes from the gameplay.
While Generations didn't do much for the story, it had some big refinements in terms of gameplay. Storm 3 however adds even more to make this fighter more fun and fair to play than ever before. Picking up and playing is still as simple as before, with combos being performed by hitting an attack button over and over. Now you can make this showy fighter even more of a spectacle with the streamlined additions.
Some of the biggest changes included are instant awakenings and ring outs. Other smaller additions like certain awakenings have brand new attacks and ultimate jutsu finishes keep matches from ever feeling samey. However, some of these newer features, such as instant awakenings, are sadly never explained and have to be discovered. Ring outs also seem to be way too hard to achieve and are something you will actually have to go out of your way to see happen.
Now with the largest roster in series history, Storm 3 clocks in with over 80 fighters. There are also fewer support-only characters and repeat characters. Still don't be too surprised when you see the four different variations of Naruto and Sasuke. The roster is achieved with mainly keeping a lot of previous characters from before and only offering a handful of new fighters.
A lot of characters from previous entries still have many of the same moves and ultimate attacks, but this never made things feel samey. The brand new awakening attacks also put a bit of freshness into some of the placeholder characters. This way, no matter who you may like to play as, there is something new to keep you interested. A few questionable characters are missing from the roster though. Some of the Kage you get to fight in the game were absent from the playable roster, but may make their ways as downloadable characters over time.
Whether you are playing with friends locally or online, the hectic battles continue their trend of being over the top and with a solid number of stages from almost every other Storm game before, it means there's a lot of scope for change.
Graphically, the game's engine does such a solid job at recreating the look of the anime. This is also helped by the incredible job done by the original voice actors both Japanese and even the English dub steps up their game.
All that is missing from the original show is its score, but the soundtrack in Storm 3 is a good replacement. It's always able to really sweep you away and if anything, some of these tracks are up there with ones the series is best known for.
Aside from the core experience, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 also has some new features to its online component, such as tournaments. These will be sure to keep you entertained with an online community that seems to thrive with each game release.
It is no easy task to keep producing strong titles in the Naruto Storm series, but CyberConnect2 keeps finding a way to do it. While not every addition was something that will blow your mind, the ones that did will make a lasting impression. The massive roster is also sure to impress any fan of this long running series. Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is yet another game that fans will cherish and it might just be good enough to tempt those outside the following to wonder what all the fuss is about.
|Very strong story mode.|
|80+ character roster.|
|Killer Bee's mad rhymes.|
|Poor explanation of new features.|
|Ring outs rarely happen.|
|Waiting to see how the war ends.|