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Posted January 22, 2016 by Adam Ghiggino in Feature
 
 

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Preview


I have to say upfront that I’m not a Naruto expert by any means. My experience with the series begins and ends with the Xbox 360 adventure games Rise of a Ninja and The Broken Bond, so I have some basis of an understanding of these characters. I also get that ninjas in this world are less ‘super secretive assassins’ and more ‘power-gorged warlocks’, who do battle in massive arenas with summoned monsters and magic spells. But even with that limited view into the massive Naruto world, I was still able to have a lot of fun with the preview build of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4.

Despite being billed as a fighting game, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 actually takes great pains to re-tell the story of the final few arcs of the anime series. The main story mode of the game stretches from a time before the series began, dealing with legendary figures with Godzilla-like battles, before returning to the present to follow our heroes, Naruto and Sasuke. At key points the story splits into two paths, allowing you to follow one protagonist or the other, even exploring short side-branches as well. Animated moments from the show are incorporated in sharp HD, while stylized stills and narration help to get you up to speed on what’s going on. If you’re already familiar with the material, you can still skip to the key battle at each stage of the story mode, but it’s clear a lot of effort has gone into fleshing out the presentation.

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Fights can range from simple one vs. one bouts, to one vs. a gang (or shadow clone army), three vs. a gang, or a three vs. three team. In situations where more than one character is available to you on a team, you can switch between them, much like Marvel vs. Capcom, or call upon them for brief assist attacks (which are on a cooldown clock). Enemies typically have a few extra bars of health, so key fights can last a while.

My first thought when playing Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 was a strong sense of déjà vu, to an earlier CyberConnect2 game, Asura’s Wrath. Not only do both games have a strong emphasis on story and presentation, but that emphasis carries through into the fighting mechanics as well. At key moments, short quicktime events can influence the direction of a fight – whether it’s dodging strikes, clashing with your opponent or landing a fatal blow.

Aside from simple attacks, blocks and parries (or substitution jutsu’s), you’ll have to spend time managing your Chakra, which can be charged at any time but leaves you vulnerable, to pull off special attacks. Wall running is also a tactic you can use to escape your enemy, at the edges of an arena. Elemental attacks also add a new dimension – by using a fire attack, for instance, you can continually burn away at an opponent’s health. However, if you find yourself on fire, you’ll have to search out a puddle in the environment, or try dashing as much as possible to quell the flames.

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Despite my unfamiliarity with the current state of the Naruto series, I was able to quite easily jump in and get up to speed, and adapt to the play mechanics of Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. It certainly looks the part of a next-gen anime game, with crisp cel-shaded visuals and stylised special effects. Fans will be able to make their own judgment on how the true game stays to the series, when it’s released on 5 February.


Adam Ghiggino

 
Owner, Executive Editor of Rocket Chainsaw. I also edit TV, films and make average pancakes.


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