A little over a year ago I reviewed Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. Going into the game I had very low expectations. After all this was a fighting game based on popular anime, these types of games are hard to pull off. But the developer, CyberConnect 2, managed to do the impossible creating a really good fighting game based on the entire Naruto Shippuden universe. I went on to give the game a score of 87 which I stand by after several dozen more hours put into the game. Now CyberConnect and Namco are back at it with the third release in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series, entitled Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations. So the question is, does Generations pack enough new content to make past Ninja Storm players come back for more? The answer is a definite yes.
This is a Good Looking Game
I praised Ninja Storm 2 for its outstanding graphics and nothing has changed with this version. The game is simply stunning to look at and watch. The game maintains its cell shaded style that looks better than the actual anime. You can look at all the screen shots you want, but the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations truly looks better in motion. The quicktime events are completely absent in this version, so some of the action scenes found in the cartoon aren’t able to be replicated to their fullest, but none the less the game is a real looker.
Big Changes in Storytelling
The biggest change for Generations is the removal of the open exploration format found in Ninja Storm 2. There are no quests or side quests to complete and you won’t be running around a 3D version of the Hidden Leaf Village. Instead Generations’ single player game plays a lot more like a traditional fighting game. At first this was a let down for me, but the more I played the game the more I realized that CyberConnect made the right choice with Generations. When playing story mode you select which character you follow through the storyline. At first you have to choose between young Naruto, Naruto after he returns from his three years of training with Jiraiya, or Saske.
The story then follows your character and only tells the story from their perspective. So you won’t be stuck fighting enemies in the game who never actually fought in the anime. This system makes total sense and actually helps add to the story for Naruto veterans. Once you beat one character’s story arc you will unlock other characters to play with. Fan favorites like Zabuza and Haku, Master Jiraiya, and even Madara and Killer Bee are all given their own storylines that you can play. Now there are two downsides to this new approach. The first is that the story arc covers all of the Naruto and Naruto Shippuden story arcs so there are spoilers that are inevitable if you haven’t seen all of the Naruto Shippuden episodes. The second downside is that since each character’s story only follows them, Naruto novices will no doubt be lost. I look at this game as a huge fan service to dedicated Naruto fans though, so most people shouldn’t be bothered by these two nitpicks.
70 Character on the Disk Means You Can Actually Use Them In Game
Perhaps Generations biggest bragging point is the fact that there are 70 playable characters in the multiplayer portion of the game. This number doesn’t include future DLC characters that you will have to pay for, all 70 characters on the disk are accessible by playing the game. Namco deserves some credit for this, especially in this day and age when companies put characters on the disk then make you pay to unlock them later.
The fighting gameplay remains largely the same. This means that novices can pick the game up and actually play it without too much of a learning curve, but at the same time dedicated players can string together combos and pull of Ultimate moves that take a bit of practice to perfect. Blocking seems to be more effective in this version and it’s not uncommon to play a multiplayer match where both players block masterfully, extending the match beyond anything that could have been done in Ninja Storm 2. As I mentioned earlier, the quick time events are also gone from this version. For some this may be a good thing, but I actually didn’t mind the quick time events in Ninja Storm 2, because they weren’t overly difficult and they made it possible to show some really cool fighting sequences that just aren’t possible in a normal fighting game.
Online Multiplayer returns in Generations and I found the network code to be pretty reliable. Connecting to a match is fairly straight forward and easy. The game still offers ranked and unranked matches, as well was a tournament mode. The Tournament mode is cool because it lets you watch the other matches in the tournament as they are happening. Needless to say you can learn quite a lot watching other people’s strategies, and you will learn just how good (or in my case bad) you are at the game. Connections to the game are usually pretty good with minimal lag, so long as the player hosting the game or tournament has a solid internet connection. Multiplayer matches each offer in game currency and unlocks after each completed match.
Once again CyberConnect 2 has managed to create a really good fighting game based on the Naruto universe. The single player game offers up several hours of gameplay telling the Naruto story from a bunch of different perspectives. The fighting itself is still easy to pick up but difficult to master, leaving you a sense of satisfaction when you master something new. The multiplayer modes are top of the line, with the tournament mode being addictive to both play and watch. Topping it all off are the game’s gorgeous graphics that really do bring the fights to life, at times even topping the cartoon. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations offers enough new content and changes that fans of the previous two games will find plenty of reasons to upgrade to this version and newcomers to the series will find more than enough to keep themselves busy. Keep in mind that this game really is a huge fan service to Naruto fans, so anyone not familiar with the show or manga may want to adjust my final score down about 10 points.