The Average Gamer

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Review (PS3)

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is one of the most absurd videogame titles ever. By encompassing both of the series’ timelines, developers CyberConnect2 seem to have attempted to include every word ever used in reference to Naruto.

On the plus side, CyberConnect2 have created a fun, if simplistic brawler that’s a great starting point for new players to both fighter’s and the world of Naruto. Generations includes a ton of content with over 70 characters, a deep story mode and robust online features. Where previous entries in the series included superfluous exploration and RPG-like tasks, this entry is a straight-up fighter that pits players in explosive one-on-one battles.

The basic mechanics of Generations are simple but effective. All attacks are mapped to a single button, which you can mash to deal damage to your opponent. Players can also jump and dash, throws shurikens, or use chakra with the face buttons. Chakra is Generation’s currency for specials, which need to be charged before unleashing spectacular attacks. Combine chakra with jump to use a super-fast Chakra dash or with shurikens to enthuse them with energy, but combinining chakra with attacks is where the magic happens. Each character has two special moves, called Ninjutsu, which are some of the flashiest special moves you are likely to see.

This is thanks largely to Generation’s stunning presentation. CyberConnect2 are masters at bringing anime to life, they have certainly done the Naruto series justice. Each of the 72 playable characters are realised in exquisite detail, and the environments look great too.

Because the combat mechanics are basic, you won’t really change how you play with each character, but this means players won’t have to remember complex combos for each fighter. Generations isn’t about frame-counting or juggling; this game gives you a chance to explore the story of Naruto, and gives players the rundown on some of the series’ key plot points.

Story mode lets you play through several characters’ narratives, including young and teenage Naruto, Sasuke, Jiraya, and more. Some of these storylines can last as long as a few hours, others less than one. But all combine for a very good story mode, which includes screens and cut-scenes taken straight from the TV show, with the option to choose either English or Japanese voice-acting. But conversations feel disjointed because you have to press X/A to continue the dialogue.

The main issue I had with the story mode was the objectives given at the start of each fight. The first objective is always the same: “Win the fight”. No shit. The second and third are always the same too. It’s an opportunity missed by CyberConnect2. This would have been a great way to spice up matches, where requirements like “land 5 shurikens” or “score a 10-hit combo” would have added variety.

As well as your basic attacks, you also have boost items mapped to the D-Pad and their use isn’t really explained. I still don’t know how a bowl of ramen helps Naruto in a fight. You can also have one or two assist characters who will jump in and help out with attacks of their own. This is tough to master. As you’re fighting in a large 3D space, knowing when to use them can be tough. The lack of a comprehensive tutorial is an issue. While the core mechanics are simple, there still needs to be a mode which explains how and when to use them effectively.

The substitution technique is crucial in Generations, and I didn’t even know I had it until I went online for a “How-to”. This allows you to teleport behind your opponent when they are mid-combo and counter. You can only use this technique four times, before your meter must recharge. The lack of explanation of these concepts defeats the purpose of the simplistic mechanics.

As well as the story mode, there is Free Battle and fully-fledged online mode. Having played a few matches, I didn’t experience any significant lag, but when I did, the game did a good job of momentarily pausing the match to stabilise the connection, rather than playing through the latency. There are player matches, ranked matches and tournaments. Spectator mode and replays are also included.

Despite the lack of in-game tutorials, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is a good starting point for newcomers to fighters and the Naruto series. It offers fun, simple mechanics and a huge amount of content, wrapped up in a graphically beautiful package.

You can buy Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations now on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3

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