The third installment of the storm series hits the PlayStation 3 soon, the third act following the series Naruto and Naruto Shippuden, the anime follows the life of a 16 year old brightly coloured Ninja named Naruto, as he learns to overcome the hatred as he became a host for a Tailed beast at birth (Tailed Beasts are masses of chakra which are normally used as weapons of war), the third game covers the current running war arc from both the manga and the anime, though for anime fans there are quite a few spoilers as the story mode does go quite away past the current season of the show. The story mode continues straight after the story in the previous title Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, with the Ninja Timeline you can view and participate in previous battles throughout the series, but the main chunk of the game is not a repeat of previous titles, which is a fresh breath of air after the previous title Generations.
As usual with the storm series, there is a very long and detailed storyline, which starts off after the village had been destroyed from the Pain attack at the end of storm 2, the game covers a lot of key elements from the War arc including the 7 Swordsmen, Edo-Kages and Kin/Gin brothers, as you progress through the story, you will also unlock side missions and also new characters to play as for the Versus and Online modes, though there is a huge amount of characters in the roster, some characters are awkwardly missing including the edo-kages, these characters are quite confusing on why they are missed from both the support or playable roster, as they have a lot of moves and are a standard enough fight in the storyline, only a few things would need to be added for them to be a normal character, but this doesn’t mean the game is lacking playable fighters though. There are over 70 playable characters in this game, along with several that can only be selected for support in team modes.
Main storyline takes around 13 hour’s though this also depends on how good you are at fighting games, but with boss fights and the new dynasty warriors style fighting system for occasional battles breaks up the action so you don’t feel like it is one big grind the entire game, giving you the occasional breather also as you do certain boss fights you get the option to do it as a Hero or Legend, depending on the option you pick the difficulty of the boss will either increase or decrease which lowers the reward you get for winning the fight. Though once you have completed the main 10 chapters, there are loads of side missions and bond quests to help push the overall playability of the single player story mode. The bonus of beating the main storyline means you’re allowed to visit any of the cities in the game, making the game exploration a huge point, there is a lot of places to visit though it would be slightly better if the areas were more open, but with the art style of the game this could cause some issues. There is also a bonus chapter for you if you find all the chakra fragments at the end of the game involving a certain Uchiha. As you explore the areas in the game you can also find secret items in breakable jars, crates, and err bird poop, so remember kids next time you’re out go play in the poop you might just find some money (Warning PSU does not really recommend this).
Free battle mode allows you to pick survival, versus, tournament and practice mode, Survival and Practice don’t need much introduction, but the only annoying fact about survival is you need to unlock it from doing certain side missions in the single player mode, which can be a drag. Tournament mode is probably the best of the bunch, and probably one of my favourite tournament modes in a fighter that have been released recently, you can do a normal style tournament just fighting your way to the end, this also includes ring out’s one of the new features for Storm 3. Though my favourite feature has to be the random rules tournament, in which before each match, there is a slot machine which can make certain rules affect the next fight such as fast chakra replenish or one hit KO from ultimate jutsu, this can make the battles feel a lot more exhilarating because you’re not sure what is gonna be coming next. You can access any character you have unlocked through the main storyline or if you unlock a certain amount of Ryo, you will then start unlocking other characters also, though both ways can unlock the same characters it all depends on your style of play on how you will end up with them. Like previous titles the versus and the new tournament mode have either single player or team battles,, team battles allow you to set up to two different support characters which allow you to do team jutsu’s or have them jump in and help you during the fights.
I couldn’t really test the online features as the game arrived before the official release and there was nobody online to fight against, but there seems to be a lot of options online from tournament mode, to endless battles there is plenty of options to keep any keen fighter satisfied for now. You can also customize your profile by either unlocking title’s and card images or using ryo to purchase new ones from the shop, this makes your card slightly more personal so people know who they’re dealing with! (I am hokage pig)
As you’re playing through the game, one of the major factors that will hit you is how close the graphics are to the anime, and how smooth everything seems to be with all the ninjas in the world map walking about and the cities full of life. FRom animals to fellow ninjas, there is a nice amount of varied locations, from the dusty Sand Village to the jungles on Turtle Island, which makes the game feel less repetitive, and you really do feel like you’re in the world of Naruto. The battles also keep up the amazing graphics with very detailed Ultimate Jutsus which look damn amazing over and over again, and each one is very varied. Some people may not like QTE, but I nearly failed some because the events were so beautiful and, like an anime, at some points I was hoping it was just a cut scene; the Naruto vs Sasuke fight is especially guilty for this.
The sound is also incredibly good, with the music never feeling out of place, and it’s very calming when you’re walking about the villages doing side quests. The game does have an option for both japanese and english voice overs, which is a standard for the Storm series, though for some reason my prologue was in english even though I set the language for japanese. Once the prologue ended, the dialogue was japanese. I’m not sure if this is just an error with review copies, but keep it in mind starting out.
Overall, I would happily recommend this game to fighting fans, mainly because of the depth of the game. Though it isn’t as complex as most fighters, there is a lot of content to keep most people satisfied. There may be some flaws, but nothing ruins the overall package. Some hardcore fighting fans might be annoyed with the occasional frame rate drop when in busy situations, but luckily it doesn’t happen too often.