Ninjas, supernatural jutsu and raw, fast combat. This is the recipe used by CyberConnect2’s latest depiction of the ever-popular series. A series that has long revolved around large, long and epic battles, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is a game that not only captures the spirit of the series, but executes it in high-quality, ninja-speed gameplay.
The soundtrack – The music for Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is, quite simply, amazing; made in a very high quality, there’s a tune for every situation encountered and is very suitable and reminiscent of the anime. Coupled with the narrator’s detailing of the story, the mix of music between slow, sad tunes to fast, fiery mixes really highlight the gravity of the situations in game.
Fully voice-acted – The voice-overs for the game are the same actors who did the voice acting for the show, and as such, the characters are distinct and instantly memorable if you’ve ever watched the cartoon. In addition to the base English voiceovers, there is a simple option to switch over to the original Japanese voiceovers, providing the game with an extra bit of fun and enjoyment.
The graphics – The graphics of the game are quite simply beautiful. The high resolution of the characters and in-game moves perfectly capture the spirit and essence of the anime. All the characters in-game are also quite distinct and instantly recognisable from their anime counterparts; Kakashi is Kakashi, Sasuke is Sasuke and you can recognise combat arenas from their place in the anime.
The special moves have their own quality about them – combos and attacks are unique to each character, and are really quite nice to look at and admire how CyberConnect2 have ported them from anime into the game.
The cut-scenes – Peppered throughout the main story of the game are high-definition, animated cut-scenes, taken from the anime and provided by the original animation studio, Studio Pierrot. They are amazing to watch in-between important fights in the story, and really add a certain flare; you come to appreciate why you’re fighting who you are, in the form of a pretty, nicely-rendered scene. In addition to parts of the anime taken and placed into the game, Studio Pierrot also provided and created 60 minutes of brand-new animation to accompany the new storylines in the game.
It’s fun – The game is, quite simply, a lot of fun to play. Combos are easy to execute, running around the arena like a ninja jumping from place to place invokes a lot more child memories than I care to admit, and battles are quick and fast-paced, just like the anime. Each character has their own unique fighting style and pitting those against each other makes for enjoyable fights every time. The game has a “card” system which allows you to unlock and use certain modifiers online; adding a new level of fun and depth to the game and ensuring there’s no real stale matchups and that ultimately, it comes down to how you pimp out your chosen character and how well you can fight with him.
The loading times – The loading times are horrendous. While it is understandable that rendering a new arena, move-sets and a variety of other elements per battle takes a lot of time, it was taking upwards of 3 minutes per fight. When you have roughly 10 fights a storyline, and several storylines to complete, it’s taking a lot of unnecessary time just waiting around. Sometimes the fights wouldn’t even load – such as later in the Sasuke Uchiha storyline – and it required a reboot of the Xbox to fix, only for it to do the same thing next fight.
The combat lacks depth – While the game is a lot of fun to play, compared to most fighting-games it lacks a certain level of depth. Combat revolves around waiting for an enemy to attack, dodging their attack and then pummelling them to bits. Each character is limited to a small amount of combos and special attacks, and, coupled with the relatively simplistic AI of the enemies, fighting comes down to figuring out how the computer will attack, and exploiting that for an easy win.
While it’s an option to not exploit the combat prowess of the computer-controlled enemies, that’s easier said than done – combined with the 15-odd attacks an enemy has, it limits the pool of combos and attacks they can strike you with. No real tutorial: When the game booted up, I struggled to find any sort of tutorial on how to play the game. It took two or three battles to figure out the buttons and another few on how to combo effectively. While it’s a relatively small blight on an otherwise great game, it was enough to leave a sour taste in my mouth. No-one wants to be thrown into a combat arena with no instruction on how to fight.
Not optimized – This is, hands-down, the worst part of the game. During a lot of battles, my FPS in-game dropped severely enough to notice and the game became quite clunky to play. Generally, it was just for a few seconds at a time, but it happened so often enough that it was impossible not to notice. There’s a particular battle on the Sasuke Uchiha storyline that runs at a really low rate, making what already is a hard battle even harder than it should be. Granted, this slow-down only occurred in fights where there were a lot of particle effects on screen, so smaller-scale battles were fine, but considering how “big” fights in Naruto were, it was a pretty big problem.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is a rather enjoyable game and a must-have for any fan of the series. The huge array of characters mixed with enjoyable combat and quality graphics and sound mix for a pleasurable experience that anyone could pick up and enjoy. If you want a deep, in-depth fighter with hundreds of combinations and tactics, you should probably look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for a good time every time you pick up it up, this game is for you.