As we play offers the thought strands of the reviewer as they’re going through the game. This offers unique content for the reader so they can come to understand the conflicting feelings of the reviewer as they’re playing a game for the very first time. All feedback on this concept is welcome.
An early contender for the longest game name of the year, Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst is the definitive version of Naruto Uzumaki’s latest adventure, which sees him fight an abundance of great, ancient warriors while eating lots of Ramen.
Full Burst is a remaking of Ninja Storm 3 released back in March, only now it’s bundled with additional content, new features and other goodies.
But is it value for your money? If you’re already a fan, is it worth a double-dip?
Expanded from the original, Full Burst contains improved cinematics, all currently released DLC for the game, including a narrative expansion through the Final Episode of the Uciha Brothers. Kabuto Yakushi’s Saga Mode form has been added to the character roster, and a whopping 100 additional missions have been added into the main story. That’s a lot to be getting on with.
This is a game, not a cartoon show!
Right off the bat, Namco show off the high-quality cinematics with a thrilling opening sequence. The whole action-packed movie is full of indelible quality and serves as a homage to the Nine-Tails’ Attack on Konoha. From start to finish, it’s filled with devastation and destruction; bursts of fire ripping buildings to shreds and fights breaking out all over the place. The odds seem overwhelming with abominable forces of incredible size causing mass destruction. It’s absolutely glorious watching it all unfold.
This flashback sequence instantly paints a picture for a dark, broken world, and sets the scene for a journey fuelled by anguish and legacy. To be honest, that was all it took for the game to stick its tender hooks into me. I’ve played several Naruto Shippuden games in the past and found myself quickly switching off. But this sequence took hold of my senses and refused to let go. For the first time, I was completely sucked in.
Live Action Battlefield
But the part that really gripped me was the dynamic battlefield, which serve as backdrops for the game’s battles. The action comes thick and fast and standing around, contemplating my movements, reflecting on everything I’ve just seen was not a way to go. There’s no turn-based action to be found here as I was involved in the action straight away. And it was a boss battle. Yes, a boss battle opens the game. Namco are going for the jugular.
There I was, jumping between buildings, throwing off high powered punches and kicks at an oversized face that was firing projectiles at me, while dodging super-sized claws that want to tear the flesh from my bones. Gradually, as the battle raged on and I started to weaken the beast, I found myself able to call in reinforcements to fire off arrows and spears to bring him to his knees. Between us, we put the beast to shame and temporarily repelled the village attack.
Environmental destruction was prominently on display throughout the skirmish. Stepping into fire reduced my health, but I could also suffer for mis-timing a jump or falling into the scenery. It’s not just your opponent you’ll have to pay attention to.
And it strikes me, watching the action unfurl completely helped me to forget about all this 1080p talk we’ve been subjected to the last few months. Naruto Shippuden still looks great on my Playstation 3 and the animation is seamless. The game’s art-style dances delightfully on my pupils and is hard to turn away from.
The teen rating seems quite justified with all the early violent scenes and action, but once it’s over, we’re swiftly reminded of the light-hearted tone of our protagonist. We fast forward to the present and listen to Naruto complain excessively about a lack of Ramen in his belly, even though he’s already had a few bowls full.
Interestingly, there is a violence filter that can be turned off for those under 13, but I can’t imagine many of you lot will be doing that. Nor will you be telling your parents. We know your game.
This is definitely more akin to the Naruto Shippuden we remember, but while previous games have been slow starting, after that opening sequence, I’m feeling pretty inspired to explore.
The game opens up as more of an RPG at this point, enabling you to roam around the village, talking to people, smashing vases for money and picking up items off the floor. There are even quests to complete. Oh, and plenty of dialogue to scroll through. That pretty much ticks every box, right? Except in Ninja Storm 3, you can buy items from the shop using coupons you collect and get yourself neat little discounts on any of the stock. In some shops, that includes buying characters and audio files for your personal collection. Pretty neat.
After some wandering around and talking, Naruto ends up having to confront one of his masters, which brings us straight back into the action again. This battle makes more of the destructible environments, enabling you to punch and kick your enemy into a bundle of logs, then standing back and watching them collapse on top of him.
You can even ring-out your opponent, beating them so hard that you can force them out of the immediate area and pick up a win. Fascinating, considering the moveset is anything but a homage to Sumo.
More elements of the battle system are revealed, such as Instant Awakening. This Awakening mode produces a devastating attack, even if the player is in the midst of a combo. There are also Ultimate Techniques which are often seen as an opponent’s ‘finisher.
Post-battle, however, my frustrations with the game started to take hold.
Blah. Blah. Blah
In order to get a good story, you need to know how to tell it. And unfortunately, Ninja Storm 3 quickly becomes far too self-indulgent, far too quickly. For a game that is supposedly welcoming for new players, I found myself pretty out-of-touch with what was going on relatively quickly.
The delay between action sequences is also far too long. I spent almost ten minutes clicking through dialogue, watching the story pan out. And honestly, I found myself caring less and less with each new dialogue box.
Yes, you can skip dialogue and get straight into the action, but that action is, quite often, a solitary battle then you’re treated to another round of non-interactive waffle. By the time you’ve worked out what needs to be done, you’re knee-deep in lore or switching to another character. The pacing is just too far off. At one point, I seriously contemplated whether I was playing a Dave Cage game.
The narrative makes sense in context of the story, but I would certainly say a fair amount of knowledge is required to properly carry you through it.
Still, I carry on through and after winning a few more battles, I finally find myself in a dungeon with dynamic mob battles. This is more like it. Finally, some freedom to run around a full map and not a single confined space.
Another interesting feature is the variance in paths. During major in-game moments, players can walk the Hero or Legend path, with Legend offering the harder challenge and Hero, a less difficult but still challenging foray. In preparation for each battle, players can also choose a Hero or Legend loadout that fundamentally changes the strategy of a particular battle. Hero will allow you to use potions to restore health, while Legend uses more strategically placed weapons, but puts the player at greater risk of a KO.
When fighting mobs, players can wear down one opponent with punches and kicks. Then, when that enemy is on the brink of death, a button prompt pops up, enabling the player to transport to another part of the screen and attack another mob. This all contributes to one larger combo and, when the time is right, a devastating combo-finisher can eat through entire groups at once.
These dungeons also build up to a final boss battle, which are full of their own unique surprises, much like the opening sequence. Fortunately, you’ve got reinforcements in place to back you up.
As the game is currently pre-release, the online mode is still not fully populated. That said, whenever I have found an opponent to play against, we have struggled to connect together and get into a game. So far, i’ve only experienced a handful of online matches (they play out in much the same way as the in-game battles, but you’re up against real opponents). Unfortunately, the stability when you reach a game is iffy and shaky and in need of stabilising. Definite room for improvement.
Areas for Development
- Network stability and matchmaking facility in need of improvement
Any issues for you? Let us know below and we’ll add them here
Technical Competency – 9/10
Graphic / Sound Quality – 10/10
Network Stability – 6/10
Overall – 8/10
From a gameplay perspective, it’s a title with highs and lows, but from a technical perspective, the fluidity of animation, the sheer quality of the cut-scenes and the lack of any noticeable glitches, break-ups, freezes or juttering, is commendable. Definitely a high point for Naruto Shippuden fans and proof that beautifully realised games still very much have a part to play on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Still, the online element is an area of question but all issues should hopefully be resolved with a post-release patch.
Issues you’ve encountered
Any issues you’ve encountered while playing? Sound off below and let us know..