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Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3

Score: 65%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: Cyber Connect2
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Fighting/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 was not made with gamers like me in mind, and I respect that. I've never been a fan of the Naruto franchise, but I recognize its popularity among anime fans, as well as action junkies in general. Having enjoyed Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations for what it was, I approached this game with an open mind. I came away from it with less enthusiasm than I expected. It has entertainment value, but as a game, it ultimately fails.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, like its predecessors, looks awesome. The art style's transition to the third dimension was silky smooth to begin with, and there was no need to change the approach. The action is outlandishly over-the-top, particularly in the game's cutscenes. That's a good thing, because Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 features an overabundance of cutscenes. The animation is stellar, the character models are distinctive, and the myriad jutsu attacks are unbelievable in all the right ways. The drawback (and it's a major one) is that the load times are often unbearably long.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 sounds good as long as you're judging it by the standards to which you hold the anime series. Music is appropriate for a series that deals with ninja; it's not the throwaway stuff that everyone normally expects from anime-based fighters. The voice acting isn't as consistent, but neither is it particularly offensive. While it's hammy as hell, it gets the job done efficiently.


I enjoyed Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations on its own merits, as an independent product that didn't assume you were already a hardcore fan. If you treat Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 as an entry point to the series, you're probably going to have a bad time. It seems as if developer CyberConnect2 is trying to spread the influence of one of their other games, the cinematic sort-of-game Asura's Wrath, to other projects.

The main attraction of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is Ultimate Adventure, a story-focused experience. I usually try to describe the premise of game stories in each of my reviews, but I'll break with tradition here just because I have nothing to say other than "Weird sh*t happens, ninjas do ninja things." This could have been mitigated by gameplay that stands up well enough on its own, but the proportion of story to gameplay is heavily weighted to the former. There are a lot of cutscenes, story events, and "free roam" segments, none of which make room for newcomers as far as the narrative is concerned. I found myself sitting through each one with a puzzled frown on my face and slowly shaking my head. I don't play games for this feeling. However, I get the sense that hardcore Naruto fans will eat this up purely on its quality as fanservice.

Your other two gameplay options are exclusively focused on the fighting component of the game. Online Battle gives you the standard spread of online fighting events and player customization options. As you fight, you earn ways to upgrade your Ninja Info card, which is your means of showing off when you're not fighting. Free Battle gives you the option to engage in VS Battles, four-to-eight player Tournaments, or the Practice Mode. It's fun, but limited, to say the least.


There are accessible fighting games, and then there's Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. This is one of the simplest modern fighting games I've played. Anyone can pick this one up and start going hog wild in a matter of minutes. It can be a humbling game for fighting game fanatics who are used to experiences that demand sharp reflexes and quick strategic thinking; they can be brought to their knees by button-mashers. If there's one thing I can recommend, it's that you should learn how to effectively manage your chakra.

Game Mechanics:

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3's combat system is wild and energetic, but quite basic at its core -- perhaps too basic. You move about on a three-dimensional plane, closing in (or moving away) from your foe(s). Actions that you'd think require a ridiculously complex input might only consist of a scant few button presses. This results in a series of impressive-looking and initially thrilling moves that are irresistible from the outset. Unfortunately, the ease with which you carry these attacks out severely dampens your enjoyment each subsequent time you perform them. Combos and throws are the heart of the combat, but the strategy of managing and using chakra remains the showstopper. Each battle is essentially a race to the jutsu attack, no matter which of the game's many playable characters you choose.

The element of choice tries to play a part in Ultimate Adventure mode, but the way it plays out makes it more of an afterthought. At certain moments in the story, you will be given a choice: do you take the Hero path, or the Legend path? The difficulty and potential for Hero/Legend points are established. But in the long run, they don't have any real impact; specifics surrounding the battle are pretty much all that is different.

Hardcore Naruto fans will probably find a lot to love about Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. It's clearly a love letter to the fans -- and only the fans. Everyone else will be better served by last year's Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Related Links:

Nintendo 3DS Naruto Powerful Shippuden Microsoft Xbox 360 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct

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