humanoid's Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 (Xbox 360) review

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Naruto Storm Review

Right, I think it’s safe to say that the gaming community is a big fan of Naruto as he’s a twelve year old ninja, loud, immature and he has no friends. I know, because I received about twenty Xbox messages questioning my sexuality but I pulled through as always and now you have the opportunity to read this review. What a treat. I know that there are a very select few that might be interested in the single-player part of the game and you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. The game also features an online mode for those that always want more bang for their buck. Read on and I’ll get on to both of those modes in detail.

Well, let’s start off with the presentation. The menu screen is beyond classy; it’s a work of art on its own. The graphics are some of the best I’ve seen in my experience with video games and the sound is just as good. One thing that really got on my nerves was how cheesy the English voice-cast sounded, which drove me to change the language to Japanese. Even though the game characters sounded a lot more unique and realistic, I wouldn’t understand what the hell they were saying if I didn’t have the subtitles on.

To defeat your opponent you can use close-combat, ninjutsu or shuriken. As easy as that sounds, it can be surprisingly difficult to defeat somebody who has full mastery of the chakra system. If you charge your chakra enough you can increase the strength of your shuriken, sprint towards your opponent and use various forms of ninjutsu. You also have the ability to use the awakening mode, a last resort that you can use if you’ve lost most of your health. Every character has a different version, with some being more significant than others such as Itachi’s susano or Naruto’s various beast modes. When I say significant, I really do mean significant as I was trounced 10-1 by a mere child, that one win happening at 9-0 when I told him no awakening modes. You also have the option to have a simple one-on-one fight or choose the team option which allows you to pop side-characters in and out mid-battle. They really add a bit of depth to the gameplay and I can see why CG2 have given you the option to play both modes separately. I can’t see myself attempting an ultimate jutsu without the aid of my assist characters any time soon. If they weren’t there to be my shield, I’d be left wide open to the enemies ultimate jutsu or god knows what. The 23 maps are all pretty varied, ranging from all corners of your single-player adventure and all look like a ninja would fight in them, which is good because this game is all ninjas. Although there are a total of 42 characters with different special moves and sorts, my favourite character has to be Rock Lee. He has no special powers whatsoever; he can’t use ninjutsu or genjutsu and must rely solely on physical strength.

The team at CyberConnect 2 have also implemented a title and emblem feature similar to that of Street Fighter IV and Call of Duty. You unlock the titles by doing various deeds on and offline such as spending a million RYO total or playing as a certain character 30 times and you unlock most of the emblems in the trading card shop. The titles are mostly serious but there are a few golden ones such as bushy brows, the idiot, the no.1 knuckle head etc. The emblems are split into two categories, the majority of them being regular and the other being limited edition. There's also a ranking system that proves you're only as good as your last game. For every win you receive, you earn 200-400 battle points and if you lose, then you’ll lose 100-200 and all the battle points go towards your total rank. You have the ability to search players by connection and all sorts which is also a nice touch. A nice but useless feature is that after every match, the game records the enemies’ player card showing their stats, title and emblem.

The story revolves around Naruto – the twelve year old loner and Sasuke, his first friend. The story also includes the ever-changing Team 7, a ninja squad that you got familiar with during the course of the first game. Although the third member Sakura has been in the team longer than Sasuke, this is a male dominant world and she doesn’t really do anything after the first two chapters. Not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing, she’s like a weak Rock Lee and lacks the charisma and charm that he has.

The single player campaign is composed of nine chapters, each having their own unique and interesting boss. I have to mention Chapter 5, the brother’s arc which is visually impressive and has an excellent ending. The main antagonists are an elite group of rogue ninjas called Akatsuki, or red cloud to some who are interesting and very powerful. Their objective is to capture nine ninja who have tailed beasts within them, so that they can create the ultimate beast and destroy the world. Yes, that does sound very stupid, but it all comes together in the end in one sweet finale. If you’re a fan of the Naruto universe – which I’m sadly not – then the game offers plenty of treats such as clips from the show, screenshots and music. I was slightly surprised at the length of this title, but I had just come off playing Halo Reach’s five hour campaign so that’s to be expected. I finished the game, at I believe the 15 hour mark but I’m currently on 26 hours so my memory is hazy. You’ll need to do the campaign and some side-missions to unlock every character in the game, which may be tiresome to some but will mean no difference to those looking to finish it anyway.

Unlike the last game, the open world environment has been toned down and the game is more linear. The main village has been changed into beautiful painted landscapes but the city is so boring that you’ll be begging to get on to the fighting. A nice touch, however is that you can now travel to the sand village, the mist village and also the land of toads. You should comment below if you laughed at those locations. The dialogue is pretty awful as well, so be sure to spam the A button to skip those pesky incontinences. There are also various items that you can investigate which give you items that you’ll never need to use. I suppose you can go back to your main village and create new and interesting weapons to defeat your opponents, but I never really bothered with them. At the end of every encounter you will be rewarded with storm points, based on how well you played and the rank you received. Although I like the system and how they determine how many points you receive, you have to reach 999,999 storm points before you can unlock some of the characters as support players.

As horrific as I may have made this game sound, you have my word that this game is anything but a joke. The gameplay is fantastic, the graphics are unbelievable, the cinematics are breathtaking and if this wasn’t based on Naruto then I’m sure this game would have sold like lemonade on a scorching hot day. Sadly however, it is and it’s put a lot of people off. If however you are looking for something new and interesting then look no further, it’s here, it’s queer and it’s going to be around for a long time.

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