Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Hands-On Preview – Ninja Kaiju

Namco Bandai overloaded me with games to play last week, and one of the titles I got some hands-on time with is Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. Before I grabbed the controller, I had the opportunity to watch several other people play through the battle that lay ahead of me and took note of combos I would need to learn, and methods that I would need to employ. Some may call that cheating, but I call that wanting to be informed.

The game is coming exclusively for next-gen consoles, so it wasn’t a surprise to see the graphics quality to be top notch. Even with a bunch going on in-game, it still ran smoothly with no hiccups, the character animations were smooth, and cut-scene transitions were hard to see without actually being the one with the controller in hand. This is a great looking game that fans of the series will be happy to see.

When it came my turn to jump into the fray the battle was reset, and I took control of a ninja named Hashirama. I was placed in a battle circle and faced off against another ninja (Madara). Combos were listed on the right of the screen, but without playing a tutorial, learning them fast enough to attack and/or counter took some quick thinking and quick finger action. I’m a pretty big fan of fighting games, but going into a battle against a worthy adversary without mastering these combos is a recipe for disaster. Luckily I watched the gameplay beforehand so I had a general idea of what buttons to press, but until you get hands-on, the feel for these combos isn’t there yet.

Ranged attacks by my guy had me throwing shurikens at my opponent, but those weren’t near as effective as the blows I landed using combos. As I beat down my opponent’s health, the battle changed from close quarters combat to being spread apart as he retreated from me,and started using his own ranged attacks. His cowardliness was frustrating as I dodged, ducked, dived and dodged his blasts; all the while throwing a few more shurikens at him. And then getting busy again with some more hand-to-hand action when I could get close to him again. As you wear down your opponent’s health, you’ll start to notice their physical appearance becomes more and more ragged which is a nice touch to an already impressive looking looking game.

Finally the battle transformed from ninja vs. ninja to Kaiju vs. Kaiju as the creatures we controlled came out to fight in our stead. While I was in control of a large monstrosity myself, Madara took control of Nine Tails in a battle that tore apart the countryside and each other. Destruction was everywhere,as these two behemoths fought in an ever-escalating battle, climaxing in a series of quick-time events; and then the final scene where Hashirama and Madara launch head-to-head at each other and the screen fades to black.

The latest Naruto fighting game seems to be hitting the right notes so far, in my opinion. Swapping weapons employs a cut-scene that flowed flawlessly between animation and action, with no real interruption of the action. Fighting or Naturo fans might want to take notice of Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, as it’s showing a lot of promise early on.