Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution Review (PlayStation 3)
As far as fighting games go, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution offers a lot of content packed into a surprising variety of game modes. Over 100 playable characters to use in three single-player modes give this game tremendous replay value, but is this a game worth revisiting that many times? That all depends on your level of devotion to the Naruto series, as well as your love of fighting games. The Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series of games focuses on recreating battles from the anime and creates a unique 3D fighting game experience as a result.
Naruto nails the anime look better than almost any other cel-shaded game, and at times, it even looks better than some of the episodes of the actual show. Speaking of which, there are lengthy animated cutscenes that are unique to this game peppered throughout the story mode. Fans of the series will appreciate these since they expand upon parts of the story that are only touched on or completely omitted from the anime. Newcomers may be confused as to who these characters are and what exactly is going on since not much context is given. Fortunately you can skip all of the cutscenes and get right to the action if you wish.
The gameplay in Naruto isn’t what you would normally expect from a fighting game. Players are given a large area to fight in as they please, and the camera is placed behind the player similar to a third-person action game. The arenas are large stages, which provide some strategic moments in battle where you have to figure out the best way to close the gap and get the jump on an opponent. The battles themselves also feel very varied since the game features a roster so massive you’ll hardly ever face the same characters more than once, even in the story mode. Every character also has three different attacking types to choose from: ultimate Jutsu type, awakening type, and drive type. Each one grants the player different abilities in battle. Ultimate Jutsu type gives the player immediate access to ultimate moves; awakening type gives the player a second form in battle once their health is low enough that boosts their abilities; drive type grants the player more assists from teammates than usual. Drive type is the most useful type, especially in online play, as it allows for teammates to step in and take damage or continue a combo for large amounts of damage.
The fighting mechanics themselves are fairly simplistic since every character only has about two melee combos, a special move, an ultimate move, a grab and projectiles in the form of shuriken and kunai. The real depth in this system comes from the gear you can equip to your character that boost his or her abilities, and items that can be used in battle that are assigned to a corresponding D-pad button. Not only that, but the 100 plus playable characters all play differently enough that you’ll find yourself discovering new play-styles all the time. The downside to such a small list of actual moves and combos is battles will sometimes devolve into finding the best way of spamming the same combo over and over and finding an opening for a special move or ultimate attack, rinse and repeat. The battles are never really long enough for this to get too problematic however, and the action is fast and frantic enough that sometimes you’ll find yourself dashing and dodging around the stage in order to get an edge on your opponent.
There are three different single player game modes (Ninja Escapades, Ninja World Tournament, and Free Battle) as well as an online multiplayer option with two game modes. Ninja Escapades is essentially the game’s story mode and is divided into three chapters that follow the anime but are unique to this game. Free Battle is just that, simple single player battles or local multiplayer. This mode is equivalent to any other fighting game’s Arcade mode.
Ninja World Tournament is where you’ll be spending the most time though, since it’s by far the biggest and most fleshed-out mode. Here, you pick a character and explore Festival Island where the Ninja World Tournament is being held, and you can recruit teammates, buy items, take part in missions and challenges, and explore the island to unlock items and earn money. The small story missions and side quests here all lead up to actual tournament event, which introduces a new way to play the game, four man ninja battles. These battles are a four player free-for-all, and rather than just trying to be the last ninja standing, the goal is to do as much damage as possible and collect the orbs dropped by the opponents. This mode is the most hectic, and probably the most fun, since you can target specific opponents, or freely roam the stage and fight whomever you please. The Ninja World tournament mode makes up for the fact that the game’s actually story mode is so short and is more story than gameplay. Additionally, controls while exploring the island feel very unpolished compared to the battles, and the island setting is a bit plain and uninteresting.
The online multiplayer in this game is very fun, but does suffer from some balancing issues due to the aforementioned drive type. Opponents can string together huge combos with this system and avoid damage by using assists to sponge hits. One big addition here is the network clone mode where a computer controlled character, or “clone,” will be sent online to battle for you, and whenever you check back the clone can earn money and unlock items and gear. This is a great way for people who don’t have much time to play to earn better gear more quickly.
Newcomers to the series will have fun playing and learning the ins and outs of combat, but this game is really meant to appeal to fans of the show. This game is a great way to get more story and lore from the series, and an even better way to just play as your favorite characters from the show. For people who aren’t fans or just want a new fighting game experience, the combat can get repetitive once you get the hang of how to nail the perfect combo, but overall, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution is a solid fighting game that replicates the anime battles very well while still being a unique and fun fighting game experience.
This review was completed using a purchased retail copy of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution for PlayStation 3.