Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Review

Player(s): 1-2
Extra Features: Local multiplayer (1-2), Online multiplayer (2-8), Leaderboards
HD Video Output: 720p, 480p (PS3)

I'll be completely honest with you - this is my first time playing a Naruto game. I have heard quite a bit of good things about the Naruto games ever since they started appearing on Gamecube. I know very little about the manga series itself, but I learned quite a bit from this game and I really enjoyed the story to it. It has several flashebacks during the story mode that helped me to catch up on the overall story to the game. I actually found myself quite addicted to the story at times and the gameplay has a decent amount of variety as well.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is the third fighting game in the series of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja video games that are based off the Naruto manga series. At its core, Naruto mainly focuses on fighting. The game has a story mode, free battle mode and an online mode. The story mode carries the main variety of the overall game for a single player. The main story is told with several animated cutscenes that resemble the storyline from the manga and animated series. The story mode opens up with an action-packed boss battle against a giant Nine-Tailed Fox that is attacking the Hidden Leaf Village. The game has several epic moments such as this throughout its story.

The majority of the time, the game plays cutscenes that lead up to a fighting sequence, but it also has a few large-scale battles, field view exploration (much like an rpg) and some 3D beat'em stages. The fighting sequences are the main meat of the game and I'll get to those later in the review. The field view areas are set up much like an rpg. You control a character and run around an area to talk to people, collect items and perform other minor little tasks to progress in the story. The 3D beat'em stages play much like a hack and slash mode where you will have several waves of enemies coming at you and your character must fight off the enemies and reach the goal at the end of a long stage.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 screenshot 25

The fighting sequences are what all modes focus on however. Fights take place on an open 3D plain and it's got a unique feel when compared to other fighters that I have played. You are free to run around the arena and toss shurikens at your opponent from long range. From close range, the characters can perform a combo when the attack button is tapped. Super moves can be performed by building up each character's chakra. Once a certain amount of chakra is built up through battling or charging with the chakra button, a super move known as "Ultimate Jutsu" can be performed or a state known as "Awakening Mode" that allows a player to perform more powerful normal attacks can be used.

The fighting in the game is simple yet fluid and it takes some practice to master. I'm far from an expert with the fighting engine, but it was quite fun to play around with. There is a button that can be used to disappear during the middle of an attack while receiving damage in order to counter the opponent. The roster for this game includes over 80 playable characters. The majority of the characters are unlocked by progressing through story mode. Quite a few are unlocked after the end of each fight. Each character has a different feel to them and some characters have a few extra abilities that are exclusive to them.

Ryo is the currency used in Naruto to buy a variety of items in the main story mode and all other modes. Ryo is won through battles based on how well you do. A player receives a rank at the end of each battle and will get a certain amount of ryo and items based on how well they did and there is often a bonus objective for each story mode task that can be performed to receive some extra items as well. Ryo can be exchanged for items in the story mode and it can be used to unlock special features from the menus.

Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 has a ninja info card that is much like a title card in other fighting games. Extra cards can be bought and extra titles can be purchased with extra ryo. The ninja info card is displayed along with your profile while playing online. The online battles that I played ran smooth with very little slowdown. The only slowdown that I encountered was when the action got extremely intense. Naruto offers player matches and ranked matches like your usual fighter.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 screenshot 30

The graphics for Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 are quite incredible. This is by far the best-looking anime game that I have played. The character models are solid and look just like the actual animated characters from the anime. The surroundings are often detailed and full of life as well. I did run into a few boring areas such as repetitive corridors in a castle in one of the beat'em stages, but the majority of the game is quite pleasing to the eyes. Ultimate Jutsu moves are quite epic and there were a few moments during the story where cutscenes would break out during the middle of a fight for quick Quick Time Events (QTE) that involved button tapping. These were all handled very well for the most part. It's easy to tell that the developers that worked on Ashura's Wrath worked on this title as well, since the QTEs fit well with the action that takes place most of the time.

The sound to the overall game features a selection of epic tracks and a few quiet tracks. The main title music is absolutely beautiful. The game features English dialogue along with the original dialogue. Voice actors from both sets of dialogue fit their roles well but there are a few times where the English dialogue does not match the lip movement. This is very common in Japanese animated series, but with this game I saw many areas were the characters would move their mouth and not say anything. It was distracting at times. The majority of the time, the character voices fit the lip movement however and the overall voice acting is done quite well.

The controls for the game are very easy to get adjusted to. You have a button for attacking, jumping, chakra and tossing out shurikens. Some button combinations lead to other moves that can be performed. Once I got the hang of the controls, the game was easy to play, but it still takes dedication to learn. The controls are responsive and easy to work with.

If you're a fan of Naruto, I'd highly recommend Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. This is easily the best game based off a manga that I have played, which says a lot, since I have played many other manga games and have constantly been let down by how mediocre they are. I'm not even a Naruto fan and was totally lost from the start of this game, but I was willing to play it and stick with it and enjoyed it quite a bit in the end. The game has very few flaws and it will last you quite a while with all the extras that it has to unlock. The roster of 80+ characters alone is quite impressive and leads to hours of gameplay to see how they all control.

The Good:
+ Graphics are colorful and full of life
+ Over 80 characters in the roster
+ Unique, simple and fluid overall fighting

The Bad:
- The cutscenes in story mode can really drag
- Some stage designs are boring or repetitive

Final Rating: 87%. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is a worthy fighter to check out whether or not you're a fan of the Naruto manga.


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