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Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: Cyber Connect2
Media: Download/4
Players: Ultimate Ninja Storm: 1 - 2
   Ultimate Ninja Storm 2: 1 - 2
   Ultimate Ninja Storm 3: 1 - 2 (2 - 8 Online)
   Ultimate Ninja Storm 4: 1 - 2 (Local and Online)

Genre: Fighting/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy is a bundled deal that packages all four Ultimate Ninja Storm games onto the Xbox One. Not only does this package contain almost all of the DLC that has been created for these games, but the first three also receive HD upgrades, as they were ported to the newer system.

Given the more powerful graphics capability of the Xbox One over the 360 or the PS3, it should come as no surprise that the port to the current generation of consoles means that Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3: Full Burst all look noticeably better after the visual overhaul. While the Ultimate Ninja Storm series has never been lacking in this department, everything from the characters to the settings and special effects just come off as smoother and prettier, especially if you take the time to compare the older versions to the new releases. While the version of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4: Road to Boruto doesn't appear to be any different than the standalone release, that doesn't mean that the game lacks anything in this department either, and it's clear that the other three games were being brought to the same visual levels of Ultimate Ninja Storm 4.

Audio has never been a weak point in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series. All of the characters sound like their anime counterparts, which makes sense given that many, if not all are the same voice actors, and the iconic Naruto music plays throughout the experience. The fact that Ultimate Ninja Storm's music and sound is strong throughout the series is never more clear than when you have the ability to play all four games on the same system without even having to switch discs, well, provided you choose the download option rather than the disc-based one. We didn't review the physical copy which puts the original three games on one disc and includes the Ultimate Ninja Storm 4: Road to Boruto disc you would get if you purchased that game on its own.


Gameplay:

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy contains almost everything that has come out for the series since the original PS3 game. What DLC is missing appears to primarily be the random pre-order content that got created for the last couple of games. Basically, the first two titles didn't have much, if anything, in the way of DLC, while the third and fourth games did, but they were also re-released with that DLC and added content. As a result, Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy contains those re-released versions of the latter two games, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3: Full Burst and Ultimate Ninja Storm 4: Road to Boruto, so if it was in those releases, it can be found here. If you are hoping to snag one of those few pieces of DLC that you didn't get because it was a pre-order or special promo, you're still out of luck in that department.

What you do get though is the best Naruto-centric fighting game series that is out there, and you get all of it. Ultimate Ninja Storm was the followup to the PS2 game series, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja, but where that run was primarily a 2D fighter with a few different planes, Ultimate Ninja Storm became a full 3D fighting experience that took the franchise to the next level. It also introduced series staples like Awakening Mode, which allows players to transform into their more powerful states, something that it is hard to even consider a Naruto game lacking at this point. The game's story takes it from the beginning of the show through the Sasuke Retrieval Team's failure to stop Sasuke from being taken away by Orochimaru.

While the second game removed the open hub world that the first Storm title introduced, it does give the Assist Characters a bit more flexibility and autonomy as it let the player assign different roles to those characters and those roles were unlocked as you progressed in the game. This allowed for a lot more strategy in your fights and more tailoring to your specific fighting style. Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 took players from the start of the Shippuden story all the way to Naruto's confrontation with Pain when the Akatsuki invade Konoha.

Storm 3's big new mechanic was Ultimate Decision. This feature let you choose between two difficulty settings before diving into one of the game's missions. If you choose the easier mode, Hero, you would find the mission to be less challenging or more direct, but the rewards that come out of that path are fewer than if you had chosen the Legend option. It added a good risk vs. reward option to the game that let the player tweak their experience on a mission-by-mission basis. The re-released version, Full Burst is what's included in this bundle, and not only does that include most of the DLC for Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, but also an extra story chapter and a Challenge Mode.

The final and most recent Ultimate Ninja Storm title starts where Full Burst ended, in the middle of the Fourth Shinobi World War and concludes with the end of the Naruto story. Like Storm 3, the version included in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy is the re-release Road to Boruto version that includes everything including the characters from the animated movie of the same name.

Needless to say, the Legacy bundle comes with a ton of content. Not only does it cover the entire Naruto and Naruto Shippuden storyline, but it also presents a wide assortment of fights, as well as the online options that the second through fourth games made available. These are primarily fights with customizable characters against online opponents, but given the increased ability to tweak those fighters as the games progress, making and testing your fighter is a very strong aspect of this part of the games.


Difficulty:

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy's difficulty is all over the place, primarily because that is an aspect that was adjusted in almost every game in the series. Where the first and second Ultimate Ninja Storm games provided tougher battles, Storm 3's introduction of Ultimate Decision allowed players to choose how hard they wanted their next mission to be. Offsetting that, though, was the fact that combos and jutsu were far easier to pull off in that game as it was in the older ones. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 kept the same difficulty-pace as 3, but with far more characters and scenarios, thus the game as a whole became much more complex and bigger, making it an even tougher title to fully complete.

Game Mechanics:

While Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy does a great job of exploring Naruto's story, it is a fighting game, and if it weren't a solid fighter, it wouldn't be such a strong series. While there are plenty of other 3D fighting games out there, and plenty based off of anime, Ultimate Ninja Storm really sells the Naruto feel with its variety of moves and the sheer amount of fun the game imparts when you are able to pull off these fancy looking attacks. While the game's occasional quick-time events are often a point of contention to more hardcore fighting game fans, it feels right when in the Naruto context and the accompanying animations that often occur alongside these sequences help to sell that feeling.

Unfortunately, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy is a hard bundle to recommend. It is just a re-release of the four games in the series. While the first three got graphical upgrades and look great on the Xbox One, there isn't a whole lot of boon to re-buying those titles if you already own them. I would say that Legacy is only a good purchase if you are missing at least two of these games already (or maybe you purchased the original releases and don't have the DLCs or re-releases of the last two games) and you are familiar enough with the series to know you like its fighting style. It definitely isn't for everyone, and those looking for more of a hardcore experience will find something lacking in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series. I simply can't recommend it for someone either completely new to the series or someone so enthusiastic over it that they already own all of its content. If you are in that odd middle ground though, then Legacy is worth considering.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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