Review: Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations
I have played through many Naruto titles in the past, but none of them have really grabbed my attention until Cyberconnect 2 started the Ninja Storm Series. The gameplay, visuals, and even the story all made it feel as if I was actually reliving the whole anime series. For me, this was a huge step in the right direction for games based on anime. I had hopes that series such as Bleach, Dragonball Z, and others would soon follow it in it’s wonderful direction. Sadly, I’m still waiting for that to happen, but with Ninja Storm Generation now released my expectations have never been higher for the series. However, with the latest installment of Ninja Storm it seems to have left me with some worries rather than with anticipation for the next title.
One huge noticeable difference with Storm Generation is the lack of open world and traditional cutscenes. There are cutscenes, but for those familiar with CyberConnect 2’s past two Naruto games then you’ll understand that this is a pretty big downgrade when it comes to story interaction. At the beginning and end of each story arch there is an actual scene from the anime series. From there, things in-between are told from stilled images with dialogue. To me, this made the story less important than it should have been. For example, in the past two Storm titles certain scenes, such as any of the epic battles between Naruto and Sasuke, were all built up to have some sort of emotional and detailed meaning. Here we are given still images, and as much as the story remained exactly the same, the pacing went rather quick leaving me with no actual reason to care.
I suspect the lack of having an open world was the reason behind all of this. Either way, I felt that this was a huge downgrade in terms of story, despite having some more story arcs not in the previous titles and some original scenes from the animated show. I suppose the best way to explain it is that it’s now based on a limited character selection where you learn some background story and then go through a set amount of opponents to reach an ending, which in comparison is similar to that of Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat arcade story.
Luckily though the gameplay remained the same. Depending on where you stand, this could either be a bad thing or a good thing, but I personally never felt that there was an issue with the gameplay of the Storm series. I always thought that it was easy enough to learn, yet challenging enough to conquer. All the combos are easy to execute along with ultimate attacks, yet timing them correctly is where you’re going to have the most trouble. Beginning is easy enough and like any fighting title the game starts you out with low difficulty AI’s, but as you progress they’ll become much more difficult to defeat. Blocks and dodges along with counters all become too common with the higher difficulty AI’s.
The computer opponents can feel quite cheap at times, but then again it wouldn’t be a fighter if they weren’t. Even on the easiest setting they can still overpower you with endless attacks and combos; though if you do become really good at countering these, then you’ll want to consider taking your skills to the next level by participating in Survival mode.
I strongly believe that Survival mode will likely be the mode where you’ll spend most of your time. Like I mentioned, Story Mode is essentially just your old school style fight after fight. Survival mode is no different, however unlike Story and Tournament mode, Survival mode contains several additional battles and more rankings to unlock. You start out easy with one to two opponent and then slowly as you advance more and more are added. To make things a bit more difficult, your health doesn’t regenerate after each battle.
Beside the Story, Tournament, and Survival Mode, Generation also comes equipped with an Online Mode. Much like Storm Ninja 2, Generation can take some time before you actually can join a match. The speed is significantly better when connecting, but if you’re searching for a ranked game you just have to hope that the host is there and that no one else is trying to join in on the same game otherwise you’ll be sent back to the matchmaking and continue doing so until there’s an open match. I can’t say that I have experienced any lag, but I’m guessing that’s because I have such good connection with other players. So depending on the other player’s bandwidth, lag may or may not play a huge factor. Either way I suggest that if you’re going to be taking this game online then you should probably start your own room as you’ll have better chances encountering another player that way.
Visually the game isn’t much different then it’s predecessors, if anything it’s the same, which is actually a positive thing considering how very similar it is to looking like its anime counterpart. All the animations run fluidly and there is a huge amount of different colors shades that make this perhaps one of the best visual games based on an anime series yet. I have no dislikes with how beautifully this game had been designed, and that’s to make it as close as possible to the actual anime artwork.
I suppose I went in thinking this game would be a continuum of the Ultimate Storm series, but frankly it isn’t. What we have here is a stripped version between the last two titles, leaving us with just a basic old school fighter where we fight one guy after another with a tacked on story. If your someone who’s looking to get into the Naruto games then I suggest you start with the previous Storm titles, as they have a whole lot more to offer when it comes to story. I did enjoy the title for what it is, as the gameplay is as excellent as it was before and the visuals are just as beautifully done as the anime. Aside from the additional characters such as Zabuza, whom wasn’t included in the past Storm titles, and other new characters I don’t see Storm Generation being a must buy title unless of course your a hardcore Naruto fan. It’s a great fighting title and I’ll admit that I have already invested over 10 hours of gameplay into it, so I guess it isn’t all that bad, but then again I am a huge fan of the series.
My only concern after playing Storm Generation is that I hope that Cyberconnect 2 doesn’t take the Dragonball Z route and start releasing yearly Naruto games. If Dragonball Z is any indication of what may happen, then Storm 2 may be the highlight of the whole game series. Cyberconnect 2 is such a talented team, I would hate to see their talent go to waste on cheap installments, especially since there is plenty left with the series.
For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes. If you have any questions about this title the reviewer will be able to answer them in the comment section.