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Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

Fans of the series rejoice; Naruto and the gang are back in the last instalment of the series. Those that aren’t aware of where we’re currently at, Naruto manga has finally ended its long run and the anime series is due to follow shortly making this the very last Ultimate Ninja Storm game we’re likely to see. Fear not though, the next series featuring Naruto’s son is just around the corner and has already begun as comics and a feature film.

Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (Storm 4) begins where Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 left off and recounts the final moments of the Naruto saga. Specifically, you are at the centre of the fourth Great Ninja War and the enemies from Storm 3 have once again reared their ugly heads. In Story Mode you are taken through the last parts of the story, experiencing it vicariously through the eyes of various characters in a series of interconnected events. I won’t be going into too much detail about the events of the story because I’d hate to ruin the experience for you but what I will say is they have done a fine job in including regular normal battles, quick time event cut-scenes and major fights against multiple enemies at once. It’s pretty clear that Storm 4 has been created as a final masterpiece for fans of the series. Newbies will find themselves fairly lost starting this game because of the continuation of story from previous titles, but there’s plenty to like in the fighting mechanics alone for new players.

The gameplay is fairly similar to previous titles which is mostly free-roaming within an arena with the ability to wall run in certain areas. Movement is still via the left stick and there is a mix of ranged attacks, basic combos, throws and special attacks that utilise the Chakra Gauge. The main difference between Storm 4 and previous titles is that, for the most part, you are fighting as a team of three with the ability to switch between the characters rather than a partner that can assist during battle. Each of the characters have their own special skill (called a Ninjutsu) and each have their own substitution jutsu and Chakra Gauges. A substitution Jutsu is a move that replaces the character with a block of wood to fool the opponent into thinking the attack landed. It draws their attention while you blind-side them with an attack. The Chakra Gauge is utilised when performing a Ninjutsu. Unlike normal tag-fighters, all three characters in the team share the one health bar. If resources for one of the characters are low, switching out to another can be the deciding factor in a battle. For a truly awesome finish, when your character is low on health the extra circle at the end of the Chakra Gauge will start to flash, and holding down charge (triangle or Y) will trigger an Awakening. Some characters will get a temporary boost in stats whereas others will transform into a super-cool-beast-thing-o and unleash awesome power. Whilst active it’s important to make best use of the new power or stat boost because you will be able to turn the tide and take down even the toughest opponents.

And the Lord said unto his disciples, I shall spin thee a yarn!

Why can’t you understand?

With its bright and beautiful visuals and continuation of the Naruto story, fans of the series will be well served with this latest iteration. The sheer amount of fun that can be had fighting massive beasts or hundreds of enemies will ensure there is something for everyone.

Ninjutsu on the wall y’all

I’m winning, I’m winning!

Once you have conquered the story there are plenty of other options available such as the standard Vs, Survival, Tournament and Practice modes which don’t differ much from any other fighting game on the market. The area that fans of the series will get ultimate pleasure however, is the Adventure mode. This mode takes place after the events of the story and gives players the ability to walk around many of the locations found in the manga/anime series. As well as this you can discover over 50 classic fights to take part in, from Naruto’s earliest school yard fight to more recent battles. Now while this mode will serve fans of the series there’s not really any point to it. You aren’t given any more story as such so newer players are likely to avoid this area.

Gameplay mechanics are very easy to grasp to the point that they can be rather dull at times. This is certainly offset by the excellent, bright and beautiful visuals we have come to expect from the Naruto series. You will be amazed at just how smooth it all looks even with massive beasts and thousands of enemies on screen at the same time. Each attack or cut-scene is captured marvellously and I didn’t experience any drops on frame-rate or performance issues whatsoever. Whilst that was true for the story and offline elements the same cannot be said for the online functionality. The connection appears to be rather unstable at times and finding an opponent can be difficult. In saying that, the issues were limited to specific times rather than all of the time. In-game the connection was mostly stable. The lip-syncing throughout left a lot to be desired and fighting AI opponents turned out to be a little hit and miss. AI were either far too easy or too hard and tended to complete the same set of moves over and over. Most of the time I was subjected to the AI firing a ranged attack at me from a wall (when available).

That being said I don’t see the AI issue as a deal-breaker for this game. Sure, the enemies might be a little inconsistent, but the fun you have fighting them makes up for it.

Let me just look upon you, oh sweet one.

Final thoughts

With its bright and beautiful visuals and continuation of the Naruto story, fans of the series will be well served with this latest iteration. The sheer amount of fun that can be had fighting massive beasts or hundreds of enemies will ensure there is something for everyone. The online issues will likely annoy at one point or another but the positives certainly outweigh the negatives in Ultimate Ninja Storm 4.

Reviewed on PS4