Video Game Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4
Yes, this is how the game really looks. Here’s a mop for all that drool.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is the final installment in the series by developers CyberConnect2. Set during the events of the Fourth Great Ninja War, Ninja Storm 4 is a vicious but flawed brawler. Will fans of the source material be pleased? Most definitely, but let’s take a look at what was done well and what could have had a bit more refinement.
The first hurdle any player will face with this game is coming to terms with the controls. By default, the generic attack button is assigned to Circle, whereas in every single other game in existence it’s set to a Square/X position. Thankfully, the controls are fully customizable, so traditionalists can set up a scheme tailored to their liking.
Running with the defaults, Triangle will charge your special meter, and tapping it will put most fighters into a special state that can trigger powerful super moves. Pressing Triangle and Circle together will execute a meter-consuming attack that usually results in a fantastic mid-battle cut scene.
Still, the controls are definitely hard to master, and that has much to do with the pacing of the game; people are jumping and dashing everywhere all of the time, phasing in and out of combat — this being a ninja game and all. L2 can help you escape devastating combos, and R2 lets you dash around yourself.
The problem stems in the feeling of the button response, such as when you’re trapped in a combo and left completely helpless. Bound to the d-pad are support attacks and item usages, which during the heat of battle are very clumsy to use because they are all symbol based, and it’s easy to get lost in the sea of abilities and items.
Our left eye practically melted out of our face within the first four minutes of this game. Naruto Shippuden: UNS4 is quite the sight, packed to the brim with pyrotechnics, world-filling super moves, glorious and epic animations, and an insane attention to character detail. We haven’t seen much of the series, but we’ve gathered enough to know just how close the characters are to their screen counterparts.
Things get really hot when various ninja summon their spirit animals, which often viciously fight in the background and star in mid-fight cutaways. No matter how much carnage the screen is throwing at you, it never seems to stray from 60fps.
If it does, it’s not noticeable in the least because the beauty of the action pries any attention away from a frame loss. Other than that, each character features a bevy of jaw-dropping moves with fantastic effects.
The voice work is top-tier as well, drawing from members of the show to reprise their roles. The taiko-heavy beats fit the flow of battle perfectly, even when the music kind of retreats to the usual techno/rock stuff.
Naruto Shippuden: UNS4 has a few different game modes to fit what many fighting fans will be seeking. Story Mode offers a wonderful hands-on experience with your favourite characters from the show, and the variety of battles it gives keeps the pacing pretty speedy. That is, if you’re good at the game.
Newcomers will likely have a bad time their first few rounds, as the AI players are some of the most unforgiving and relentless bastards we’ve ever fought against. The first fight literally made us raise our eyebrows and re-evaluate our existence.
With a bit of practice and familiarization with the ins and outs of the game, however, progress will certainly come. And it will be a challenge the whole time, because the circumstances of battle will change almost on the fly. Maybe you’ll be fighting a group of bad guys, and in seconds it can turn into a sky-scraping battle of gigantic animal spirits.
Adventure Mode is meant to be played after the story, and it strictly stars Naruto as the playable character. You’ll be grabbing quests after visiting villages, but the experience feels hollow compared to the previous mode.
There is also an Online Versus mode in which you can get your booty punked to the ground so hard that they’ll have to re-name the street after it. A local versus mode is great fun, though. Experimenting with different support characters in addition to your main is surprising amounts of fun — even more so with a buddy that’s doing the same.
While the game is insanely difficult at first, flipping through the endless lists of in-game commands will help you understand the pacing, because it’s indeed quite different than any other fighter out there. Ultimately, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 serves as a stunning close to a series that has been known for its intensity, and this game is the cream that rose to the top.