|System: X360, 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: Oct. 19, 2010||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 most of the tweaks to the battle system are positive, there are some little issues that I noticed. One of the first is the heavier reliance on quick-time events to end story battles. The original did feature some quick-time events at the end of important stages, but the reliance on this mechanic seems to have been amped up to the max in this title, with between eight and twelve button combinations ending stages routinely.
The game also uses a new star rating to measure your performance on the quick-time events that can, in turn, unlock special cutscenes. The focus on nailing the quick-time events really detracts from the game's combat, as you have to always be ready to hit some random buttons instead of nailing a combo or landing a finishing Rasengan. The dueling Chakra system is absent from this game. When two characters activate Chakra attacks in Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, they take turns instead of battling it out with a competitive button smash. Changes like these give the feel that the developers were fixing something that was never broken.
The visuals have been drastically improved. Although I gave high praise to the original Ultimate Ninja Storm for its highly detailed cel-shaded visuals, the follow-up has done the unthinkable and made the visuals even more breathtaking. The cel-shading in this title is incredibly well-done, and absolutely nails the visual style of the Naruto anime. The world of Konoha is also lovingly rendered, and though there isn't much to explore, the vistas are certainly picturesque. Both cutscenes and in-game visuals hit all the right notes, and this is certainly the best-looking Naruto game yet.
In addition to the game's adventure mode, there is also an online component to the game which has some fairly interesting points. The interface uses a "Ninja Card" system to track both your stats as well as the battle standings of both friends and rivals. The mode isn't deep, but if you love taking the fight online, the offering here is satisfactory and you'll get plenty of hours out of the online battle mode.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 exceeds its predecessor in many ways. A tighter story, better visuals, and easier-to-manage Chakra system top the list of improvements made since the last iteration. However, I can't help feeling like there are some major detractors here, including the loss of the free-roaming mission format and the stronger focus on quick-time events. There is a lot to love about Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, and if you are a Naruto fan you should certainly pick it up as it is the best Naruto game I've seen based on the Shippuden saga and the best Naruto title you'll see on the Xbox 360 (the original was a PlayStation 3-exclusive). Just don't expect this follow-up to top its predecessor in every way imaginable. I suppose that is the risk you take when the bar is set so high.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC News Director