The Hidden Leaf Hokage-hopeful is back in all of his ninja glory and this time he’s here to end the 4th Great Ninja War. Believe it!
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 will supposedly be the last in the series for CyberConnect2, which makes this a bitter sweet release. This team has set the bar incredibly high for themselves with previous installments, so the pressure to cover the final story arc with all the usual flair was immense. But, could the formula be perfected even more than it already has been? Well, lucky for Naruto fans, the developer somehow has found a way to outdo themselves once again by taking the 3D-anime fighter to the next level with grand visuals and tight gameplay.
As I mentioned above, this game’s story mode covers the epic conclusion of the Fourth Great Ninja War, and thus, the end of the Naruto Shippuden narrative. The campaign breaks down into a 10-hour, 5-chapter gauntlet that weaves together the two story branches of both Naruto Uzumaki and Sasuke Uchiha during this extremely dire time in the Shinobi world. You’ll be able to go down each branch in whatever order you’d like–until they converge, that is. As the battle between Madura Uchiha (a recurring villain) and the rest of the ninja world wages on, the ninja duo (who are forever-bound together) are tasked with deciding the outcome of the war.
However, there’s no need to worry if this is your first Naruto game; the narrative is told in such a way that even newcomers will get the gist of what’s happening, while still retaining all of the important moments long time fans have been waiting to experience for themselves (like Sage of Six Paths Naruto). It’s the Cliffsnotes version of the war, rather than the in-depth encyclopedia.
Similar to previous titles in this franchise, UNS4 puts players right into the thick of the action. You’ll be bouncing back and forth between iconic battles from the series and pre-rendered scenes full of quick-time events. I’ve never been a fan of QTE, but CyberConnect2 does it in a manner that feels both rewarding and engaging during the lengthy clips. Hit all of your cues with precision and you’ll be granted an extra scene at the end of select matches.
As for the combat, prepare your eyeballs for high-octane pyrotechnics. Not even the Sharingan will help you digest the grand scope of the attacks being gorgeously displayed on your television. Massive, screen-filling special attacks are only two button clicks away, so even the most novice of fighting game players will be able to launch earth-shattering moves with ease. Tailed Beast Planetary Rasen Shuriken, anyone? However, mastering the intricacies of countering, dodging, using the substitution jutsu, and learning how to stagger combos in a way that won’t leave you vulnerable will be key to your success.
Battle fatigue doesn’t really become an issue either in the Story mode because the game does an excellent job of varying the combat scenarios. One moment you’ll be facing never-ending waves of combatants, the next you’ll be taking on huge bosses in the form of a tailed beast. You’ll even come face-to-face with the Jyuubi Jinchuriki. CyberConnect2’s pedigree for presentation is very much still there. Your television screen will look like the most insane firework show; the developer pulls no punches this time around.
If that’s still not enough depth for you, you can also attempt to complete each fight with an S-rank for ultimate bragging rights and a few secrets.
Outside of the campaign, there’s also an Adventure mode that unfortunately doesn’t amount to more than a nostalgic distraction. Here you’ll take on the role of Naruto directly after the events of the Ninja War, as you run around from village to village, completing different fetch-quests with battles from the past sprinkled in for precaution. Fans will get a kick out of certain moments, but it’s not as robust as the rest of the game.
Finally, there are online and local components where you’ll be able to challenge friends, duke it out with the online community, and even compete in tournaments. With a character list that boasts 100+ ninjas, experimenting with which 3 team combo works the best for you and which moves are most effective with your play style becomes a lot of fun once the credits have rolled. This is where you’ll really be able to appreciate the minor details–like dynamic arenas, wall-running, and character transformations– that make this an extremely polished package.
With this being CyberConnect2’s last game in the series, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 really does feel like the ultimate farewell to one hell of a journey. This team has simply mastered the anime fighter-genre by mixing interactive cut-scenes from the anime with and an excellent combat system that allows even novice fighters to complete jaw-dropping specials. While the story mode is definitely the cream of the crop, there’s a ton of content here to keep you busy way past the ending of Naruto’s saga.
- Epic battle-scenes look like they’re right out of the anime/manga. The biggest moments from the source material makes a gorgeous transition into video game form.
- Combat is deep, fun to master, and is easy enough for anyone to pick up and play.
- Over 100 playable characters allows for plenty of experimentation.
- The story is simplified to understand, even if you’re not caught up on the manga, but still has all of the content that long-time fans want to experience.
- The Adventure mode could have been deeper. Running around familiar locales is a nice stroll down memory lane, but all you’ll be doing is walking from one fight to the next.
4 out of 5 Ninjutsu Burritos
This game was reviewed using a PS4 copy of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. The game hit stores Tuesday, February 09 on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.