Naruto is back and better than ever! Believe it!
The Ultimate Ninja Storm series has been a big part of my gaming life for the last few years and the Naruto franchise has been an even bigger part for a good chunk of life. I have always been a fan and regardless of nay-sayers, it has been one of my favorite series. As the manga has already reached its end, with the anime soon to follow, this is supposed to be the last entry in the series and I think it is the best one that has been made.
The game features two single player modes, both available from the start. The first of these modes is the Story Mode, which takes place during the Fourth Great Ninja War. The storyline spans the events and the amazing battles that took place during the war, including Might Guy versus Madara Uchiha, which happens to be a personal favorite. The second single-player mode is the Adventure mode, which picks up after the events of the Story mode and allows players to explore portions of the Naruto world, pick up missions, interact with various characters.
The story mode is broken up into chapters, each chapter following a different portion of the war. At times, the path will branch out, following either Naruto or Sasuke, depending on which path you follow. Ultimately, it boils down to who you want to follow first since you will have to complete both paths to move on. Technicality aside, even these branch paths have little side stories as well that flesh out characters and give us glimpses of other important characters like Hashirama and Obito.
One thing that can be said for story mode is that there certainly is not a lack of story. Between battles, players are treated to cutscenes that are partially animated that serve to move along the plot not shown via battles. They tend to run a bit long, however, and I found myself skipping a bit because of how much time it was taking. While it is not an inherently bad thing because they are thorough and entertaining, it is not good that I felt the need to skip bits and pieces of story to get back to the action.
Fast-paced and high octane combat has always been a staple of the Ninja Storm series and UNS4 is no exception; combat is intense, strategic and just downright fun. The basics of the game are the same as previous entries in the series though there are a few new features to look forward to, starting even before the fight begins. Players are able to select from a huge roster featuring almost every character in the Naruto Universe, minus a few and some in various forms such as Anbu Itachi and Double Sharingan Kakashi. After selecting your character, you can customize their jutsu, though this does not apply to all characters. Another neat customization is that players have the ability to change the clip that plays during Ultimate Jutsu if it is used to finish off an opponent.
Speaking of Ultimate Jutsu, probably the most explosive and definitely my favorite feature is the Combination Ultimate Jutsu. While it is not necessarily new to the series, it is still one of the most visually satisfying aspects of the game. There are a ton of combinations involving a variety of different characters and it is fun trying to figure out all the different combinations.
The newest feature to come to the game is the ability to swap characters on the fly. Players have the ability to cycle through their squad of two or three during battles, adding a new element to the mix. Some characters excel in fast, quick combos whereas others have slower attacks but hit harder. Finding a way to balance this and adapt to any situation puts the game on a different level competitively from previous entries.
The series has always been known for its wonderful art style and this entry is no different. Character models and battlegrounds are incredibly detailed and simply stunning to look at. While there is no problems with the graphical quality itself, there are a few times where the game would inexplicably slow down which can be quite bothersome. The game’s soundtrack is simply amazing with pieces that match the tone, much like the rest of the series and even the anime as well. Players are able to choose to different audio tracks, allowing for English and Japanese voiceover.
Overall, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is a fitting send off for a long-running series of fighting games based on a truly fantastic series. While there is a little bad, it is so out-weighed by the good, it is almost as if it does not exist at all. As a long time Naruto fan, I am supremely pleased with the final entry of the Ultimate Ninja Storm series.