The Naruto series has gone strong ever since the manga was first published back in 1999. The manga was of course turned into an anime and then into a video game. The first game appeared back in 2003 and since we have seen a steady stream of Naruto and his ninja friends. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 looks to continue this long-standing story of friendship and the fight between good and evil. With a fun combat system and beautiful graphics, does this game have the right ninjitsu to stand on its own and win over people who are not fans of the series.
In Ninja Storm 2 players will take control of Naruto and his many friends as they try to fend off evil ninja’s from every direction. A group that calls themselves Akatsuki is out to steal the power of nine tailed beasts, one of which is stored inside of Naruto himself. Add on to this the evil Orochimaru and players will have their hands full. This story is very well fleshed out in the adventure mode. Here players will get to experience the Hidden Leaf Village and many more of the villages found in the world of Naruto. The story is very well told and does a good job of not alienating gamers who have not followed the anime. With that being said, there are times where you will have needed to seen the anime to understand certain situations.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 consists of three modes for gamers to enjoy; Adventure, Free-Battle, and Online. Free battle is fairly self-explanatory with gamers able to quickly jump into a battle vs computers, a second player locally or just watch a computer vs computer battle. The biggest beef of the game comes in the form of the adventure mode. Here is where gamers go through the story of the game, fighting in battles and carrying out quests for the people of the world. Most of these quests are fairly simple with things like collecting ninja tools for someone or gathering dropped pearls from a special necklace. While out doing these quests gamers will also want to gather the random materials found throughout the world. These materials are used to create new battle items and bento to boost abilities before battle. Adventure mode can become a bit narrow as the free-roaming world of past games is gone, replaced with a very straight forward world. That being said there is still plenty to do in the game from the side-quests to replaying past boss battles.
Speaking on the battles, this is where the game — and especially the adventure mode really shines. Battles can be intimidating at first with how fast the action happens, but it is surprisingly easy to grasp. There is essentially only a few buttons you must master with a up close attack, ranged, jump, and block but there is plenty to keep the battles interesting. Gamers can have two support characters to fight alongside them and these characters can be called out to give a solid defense and help you go on the offensive. Along with the support characters you can also equip the directional buttons with a battle item, with these ranging from exploding balls to cards to slow down your enemy. Just when you think that is it, add in the ability to use Chakra in the battle and things can get hectic. Chakra is essentially mana that characters can use to do super attacks and this mana will refill over time during the battle or if you can find time, you may charge it.
Yet another wrinkle is to the combat when you must fight in a boss battle. These boss battles bring quick time events into the fold but before you start to gripe, these are done so exceptionally well. At certain stages during these battles things will turn to these quick time events which are blended into a splendor of beautiful graphics and amazing power moves. Players will quickly be displayed with a button to press and the quicker you pull off the button press, the more stars you will receive. Collect enough stars and you will unlock a secret during the battle which flashes back to a past event, helping to explain certain characters motives. Make sure to also check your health at the end of every battle as it does not always refill following a fight.
Not everything is all great and dandy when it comes to the adventure mode; there are some nagging issues. The main one of concern is the amount of loading that players must endure. It seems no matter where you turn in the world you are greeted with a loading screen. Now most of these only last 10-25 seconds but with the frequency that they occur, things definitely add up. The camera can also become your worst enemy at times when traversing the world, especially when you find yourself in tight corridors. This wouldn’t be an issue if you could control the camera at all times but sadly you seem to only be able to in completely wide open areas. Lastly the game will feature way too much back-tracking, requiring players to run to one side of the town for a cut scene, only to have to return back to where you started.
If you find yourself tired of simply following the story or fighting against the computer, it might be time to take this battle online. Here you will have the option to play in a ranked or unranked match and to search for games by same level and connectivity. There were plenty of matches to be found when searching and hopefully the online community continues as it is a lot of fun to destroy your fellow ninjas. Be very cautious though as a lot of these people online are extremely good, maybe even too good! You will have over 40 characters to select from when you take things online and 16 levels, though make sure you have finished both the adventure and free battle first. These modes are required to unlock many of the characters in the game, especially in my mind some of the best.
It may have not been mentioned yet but Ninja Storm 2 is full of cell-shaded beauty at every corner. Towns are wonderfully crafted and battles become a visual ecstasy for the player. The story is orchestrated to perfection with characters and events sucking you in and forcing you to care about every experience and character in the game. The voice acting is also top-notch once you switch from English to Japanese and music in the game correctly fits every area or scene.
Despite an excessive amount of loading screens which will have you questioning the 3GB mandatory install, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 oozes with a vast amount of Chakra. Sexy cell-shaded graphics are flanked by a strong story and fun, interesting characters. While the story might confuse those who are not fans of the anime, the fun and deep combat will keep them in the fight. The adventure mode can become a bit tedious in between fights and with it being essential to unlock the full roster, it could scare off potential buyers who just want to hop on and fight with a full cast.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Fun and addictive combat
– Far too many loading screens