Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is by far one of the most enjoyable fighting games I’ve played in a long time.I finally got to play my first Naruto Shippuden game and I was so glad it was from the Ninja Storm series. I’ve been a huge fan of Naruto since I first started reading it in Shonen Jump magazine and was instantly hooked.
Spoilers ahead, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 begins at the very beginning, literally, you start the game fighting the Nine-Tailed Fox in Konoha, Naruto’s hometown but the fight is set during the birth of Naruto himself. We’ve never really been given a real glimpse of that fight but now we can experience the attack of the dreaded fox ourselves as well as the person who staged it simply dubbed “the masked man”. It’s a great way to start a game that has so much to deal with the Fourth Hokage and the Nine tails and how it is all so connected to that very beginning and explains how Naruto isn’t just a war orphan whose parents died during the attack of the fox.
Enough story; you came to hear about the game itself and that’s what you’re getting. The fight between Hokage and Masked Man is in full swing and after defeating him once you suddenly take on the role of Third Hokage fighting the Fox itself while jumping from roof-top to roof-top and using all sorts of Jutsu (Ninja Skills) to fend him off. Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 really shows its visual beauty in fights like this and gives you a taste of future things to come in your journey through it. When do you finish off the Fox as the third you are thrust back into the fight against the Masked Man once again. The game does this in a very smooth way so it seems like you are just watching another episode of the anime itself, one that you get to be in control of and choose your own path.
The transitions are different from the usual and at some point I’m sure the developers were thinking to themselves that maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea to just thrust players from one fight to another without any sort of intro or warning but since every fight is story based and needed to advance the plot it never felt like a filler event just to extend the game time.
As this is my first Ninja Storm game I don’t have anything to compare it too but combat felt really fast and quite responsive, exactly what I expected from a fighting ninja game, I mean seriously who wants a slow ninja? I have done a bit of research and learned of a few tweaked mechanics such as you can enter certain characters “Awakened” state on command instead of during low health situations where it might have been your only way to make any sort of comeback, personally I’m not sure how I feel about that as I would have liked to experience the feeling of hope and know I might still have a chance versus being able to start at your most powerful state right from the beginning and not having a last ditch attack to use. Doesn’t matter much in story mode as I all I wanted was to be able to use sage mode on command, which you can’t! What was the point of spending all the time training for the skill only for it to be used once during a cutscene and very shortly during one other fight?
Speaking of story mode and tweaks, a new addition is the path system. During certain fights you will be able to choose between the “Legend” or “Hero” path, both give you points and advance the story but I went legend the whole way through and it opened up tons of scenes and fights that aren’t part of the anime, the best one for me was the final battle where you fight all six reanimated Jinchuriki or tailed beast hosts at once with no help when you choose “Legend”, the “Hero” path split the fight into a one versus three in two sections, one for Naruto and one for Killer Bee, the other host that has not been captured, but I felt that wouldn’t give me that sense of being a bad ass, just for future reference I regretted that decision as it took me close to an hour to get past that part alone.
These decisions make it so the game differentiates from the plot of the show so it doesn’t feel like you are watching the exact same thing you might have finished on the last episode, no matter the choice you always end up going back to the correct time line and can’t do anything crazy like become a rogue ninja and attempt to destroy your allies, not that anyone would do that…right ? I certainly wouldn’t be against it. The ending of Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is a totally non-canon and it was probably the biggest disappointment in the entire game for me. It’s true that the game is supposed to only show what’s currently been aired but it went much further than that, quite far into the manga to a point where I was getting really hyped up by how much story was actually being given to us and I almost expected to at least find out why there were suddenly two Madara Uchiha kicking everyone’s butt in the battlefields. *Spoiler! You find out the real Madara died and he is the reanimated one that gets brought back during the final chapters so the “Masked Man” goes back to being named “Tobi”, though he says names have no meaning.
Regardless the game ends exactly how the manga and show would with Naruto defeating “Tobi” and his mask falling off so we can see his face…wrong. we never see his face and are left with the biggest cliffhanger ever which is where the game diverts from being canon to non-canon and the war ends at that with Naruto going back to Konoha and the game entering a free roam state where you get to do event after event to unlock a few more characters that get added to the versus roster. A major letdown for some fans but one that gives us time to hone our skills till the next Ninja Storm.
After the story you can free roam as previously stated but I would like to add that you could do so during the game and nothing ever happened, events don’t start to happen until you beat the story, it was just a way of going from one load screen to the other, one that really annoyed me when I had to spend 10 minutes walking through a town just to hit a load screen with cutscenes that took me miles away and about to enter a fight, really unnecessary. Load screens were also used too often in my opinion and until I installed the game to the hard-drive were really annoying me to the point where I walked away a few times knowing there would be a few lines of dialogue, another load and then finally get to fight.
As much as I would have liked to go online and get my butt kicked by the pro Storm players I was never able to make a connection or join one in the online battle mode, I blame my crappy apartment internet but I hope to get that fixed soon. I hear it’s a blast with people seriously dedicated solely to mastering each and every technique the game has at its disposal.
In conclusion Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 improves upon the previous games with faster combat, great visuals and incredible responsive controls. The game manages to keep me connected to each character even during the ridiculous fights I had to go through thanks to such a great story, even if it does have a few parts that aren’t quite how I expected them to turn out, Ninja Storm 3 keeps the player fully engrossed into the action and leaves them hanging for the next installment of our future Hokage’s story and hopefully see the final climactic battle between friends.