|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: CyberConnect2||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Although there are plenty of new battle elements to experiment with in this title, the control here remains remarkably the same. You will still use the circle button for your main attack and the triangle button as your chakra trigger. Veteran Ultimate Ninja players will definitely feel right at home with the same basic control scheme, and newcomers will find the simplistic combo system very inviting. However, if you really don't like the control system as it is, you can fully customize it to suit your unique style.
Even though the new structure of the game and new battle elements certainly are nice, the most intriguing feature of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm has to be its striking visual style. When this title was announced earlier this year, the enhanced visuals were certainly the most touted new feature, and the game definitely delivers in this department. The character animations are smooth and crisp, and the series' trademark cel-shading has really been toned down in favor of a sharper, cleaner look. All the characters and backgrounds are highly detailed, and the different 3D environments look incredible.
The most impressive thing about this game's visual style is the seamless transition between 2D elements from the anime into 3D. The game achieves a near-perfect anime look, which is definitely no small feat considering the highly-stylized and detailed look of the show. Certain memorable environments from the anime, most notably the Konohagakure rock sculpture, retain an almost pitch-perfect anime look, but have certain 3D elements that accentuate the 2D design nicely. Although the game's resolution only reaches 720p, the game's overall look does not seem to need the extra lines of resolution to look absolutely amazing. It's fairly easy to say that Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm is the best-looking anime game produced to date, and it could even be argued that the game looks even better than the anime that inspired it!
In addition to the main story mode, there is also a free-play mode that allows you to play one-on-one with your friends. If I had one complaint about Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm, it would have to revolve around the barebones structure of this mode. While the story mode is highly customizable and deep, the free play mode only allows you to pick your character, customize your special moves, and set a handicap. The free-play mode would have greatly benefitted from some extra two-player options, and I would have been very excited to see some sort of online versus mode included here as well. But, unfortunately, it seems that the Ultimate Ninja series is just not ready to take the online jump, which is truly a shame.
The sound in this title is very good and features original voiceovers from both the English and Japanese voice cast. Both sets of voiceovers are of excellent quality, which is definitely a good thing since more of the game's dialogue is voiced in this iteration than in previous titles. The music is also very good in Ultimate Ninja Storm, and I was happy to hear some original tunes included in the game instead of just recycled and remixed tunes from the anime.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm has definitely been on a lot of fans' radar for quite some time. Although it initially garnered buzz because of its amazing visuals, there is a lot more to this game than just looks. This title is the freshest Naruto title to hit the US, and the new mission format is a welcome break from the usual Naruto brawler formula that has permeated the previous entries in the series. There is plenty of content here to discover, and no matter whether you are a diehard fan or a franchise newbie, you will definitely enjoy Ultimate Ninja Storm's single-player modes for quite awhile. Though, hopefully the series will have more to offer fans in the future in terms of multiplayer capability. Then we truly will have an Ultimate Ninja!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor