Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is the series’ first outing on the Xbox One. On offer is three modes of play along with the best graphics in the yet for this anime and manga program. With a roster of one hundred playable characters from the Naruto Shippuden universe, and four different modes of play, this is certainly being built as the biggest title in the series to date. I got the Manga/Anime bug last year and while this is my first venture into the Naruto series I have been looking forward to this title.
There are not many games where the intro grabs my attention, but with the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 intro I have found myself sitting through it more than once. It may be because I am am fairly new to the Manga/Anime scene but I really enjoyed it a lot. It sets the tone for the Story Mode in the game, showcasing the main characters that you will come across all on top of a very catchy intro tune. As always with my reviews I try and not spoil the actual story to the game so I will keep this as spoiler free as possible. The game tells a tale of the Great Ninja War with the game thrusting you straight in to the action. The first battle will see you fight as The First Hokage: Hashirama Senju where you see him using his dragon Jitsu against Madara’s tailed beast Jitsu. The battle is a fierce one and sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the story. What follows is a story of Shinobi honour, brotherhood, friendship and the search for the next Hokage. Thats not all you also have to save the Hidden Leaf Village from Madara’s wrath. The story has so many twists and turns that it wants to make you see it through to the end, with not only double crossing but triple crossing. Just when you think you know how a character will react it throws in more than one curve ball.
The stories production value is quite outstanding as you make your way through the Storyboard which is split between chapters and episodes. There is also split paths which tell their own story that intertwines at the end of the chapter. There are a couple of side stories to play as well, which aren’t key to the main story but do serve to shed a little more light on some characters. This isn’t all just about moving from one battle to the next, as there are a plethora of down right amazing cutscenes you can sit through and watch as they build up to the climatic battles and boss fights. There are certain cutscenes that can last what feels like ten minutes or more. If the production values were not as good as they are it would have maybe been an issue but it isn’t here, even if it was you can skip the cutscenes. There are so many great and memorable moments throughout the games story including some over the top boss battles which fast become a guilty pleasure. One part of the game has you control a giant frog as you make your way to the boss, squashing the many cannon fodder under your feet. This frog can also certainly bust out the ninja moves to take out the larger foes. There are other boss battles which can take the form of multiple parts, or are so big they have more than one episode, as well as you changing back and fourth from your tailed beast form and normal from.
The story also makes great use of quick time events known here as Interactive Actions. These take place during the movie scenes and you will earn a number of stars depending on how fast you hit the correct input. This builds up a gauge and if you max it out you will be granted special scenes known as Secret Factors. There are also some battles that have Secret Actions in them, and by performing certain actions during battle you will be granted with hidden action scenes. This is used perfectly and keeps things from getting stale throughout the Story Mode. The amount of play time for the story mode is a good couple of hours if you are going to sit through all the cutscenes, which I recommend as the story is quite engrossing. Maybe someone with more knowledge of the series than me might be able to pick out issues, but I did love it myself.
If you have played previous titles in the series then you will already be familiar with the battle system. If this is your first dip into the Naruto Shippuden universe then fear not as the controls and the way fights play out is very easy to grasp. As with most fighting games though it can be hard to master to obtain those elusive S+ Ranks. Battles can take the form of one-on-one or three-on-three team based battles. They take place in various locations and in fairly large open space areas with some locations allowing you to fight on walls. When playing as a team you can switch characters easily using the right stick or you can call in support (just like the Capcom fighters) with the press of the left or right shoulder buttons. All your fighters in a team battle share the same health bar so always keep that in mind. Right trigger is your defence and you can use left trigger for and evasive teleport. This move is limited by a gauge which will need time to refill. The way I fought I was getting five uses before it was depleted. I found out the hard way just how tactically this move should be used.
When is comes to pulling of each character’s move’s things don’t stray too much from person to person. It all comes down to a combination of button presses which make this one of the most accessible fighters today. Some may not like that it’s not as diverse as say Street Fighter games, but when you see some of the moves that you can pull off that will all be forgotten. You wont see a bunch of bikini clad girls rushing your opponent in Street Fighter. Just below your health bar you have what is called a Chakra gauge which will allow you to use your your secret technique which is an over-the-top devastating move. What’s great about these is they are different for each character and the presentation of each move is just insane you can’t not love them. These very special moves can take the form of a characters tailed beast or an insane amount of hits featuring things like ninja cats to tiger forms. If you pair up certain characters you will have access to a linked secret technique. You can also break armour which deteriorates during battle. One thing I love about this feature is that if you get hit with fire you armour stays lit for a short time, but you can use water to put the flames out.
Near the end of a battle you can also activate a final cutscene which leads in to a specific cutscene at the end. If this is your first time with an anime fighting title then you are in for a surprise. As I have said the games battle system is fairly easy to get to grips with but takes a bit of time to master the true depths it has. It’s not always just about firing off those devastating flashy moves but how you use your defence and attack during battle. Especially when you take into account that you can appoint the d-pad with four different items to help turn a fight in your favour. These can range from health, defence or attack boosts to dazing your opponent just enough to get an attack or two in.
There is a mode which has been added to let you play out stories after the main Story mode called Adventure mode. This is kind of an open-world style mode where you take the role of Naruto and venture into a number of locations from the Naruto universe. This mode allows you to take on new adventures beyond that of the Story Mode. Tasks include pretty much your usual main missions to side missions and other things associated with this type of genre. Most of the quests will lead up to fights as well as allowing the adventure mode story to play out. Some fights will allow you to choose from the massive roster of characters where others will have you fighting as a specific character(s). While it doesn’t add anything new to this type of genre it is still a fun mode to play with plenty on offer. There are Memory Fragments scattered around the Naruto world which tell a specific memory which, as you guess, leads to a fight. These can be collected at certain locations and started via certain actions. The fights have various conditions like your opponent having a boost in attack and defence, or you not being able to use special moves etc. This is just one of many ways that the game keeps challenging you to increase your skill in battle and get ready for online battles. While it can become repetitive there is a lot to do in Adventure Mode and is a part of the game that you can revisit time and time again until you complete it 100%. There is a good couple of hours worth of gameplay in this mode.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is bursting at the seams with collectables to pick up throughout Story and Adventure Mode. In each battle players are ranked on how well they fought and are giving a rank along with a number or Ryo. This is the games currency to use to buy the various amounts of collectables. You can boost these amounts buy completing the bonus requirements during the fights. Your are also awarded ninja treasures which you can use as trade for some of the collectables, as well as in the Adventure mode. The collectables take the form of customizations including Info Cards and Skins, Finish Cut-In Images, Matching Voices, Titles and more. It will take a fair while to get everything going by some of the prices to buy them, as well as the amounts of treasure needed for trade. Some items can only be bought with Ryo though.
The final two modes is Free Battle and Online Battle which take care of local and online battles. Free Mode is for single or local play with a friend and there is something for everyone. Each mode you can adjust fight settings as well as set up leagues and tournaments. You can fight one-on-one battles as well as team battles. There is also a survival mode in there for those that really want a challenge before venturing online. Online Battle as the name says is Free Battle but for online play. There are login bonuses for Online Battle Mode you get for each day you log in to Online Battle. You fill up your stamp sheet to get various bonuses which include things like ninja treasures and items. The fight modes available online are Ranked, Player and Friend matches as well as a limited time event which starts on the 14th February. It’s just a shame that the league and tournament modes are absent from online as it would be great for people that don’t have friends close to them. The matches however have a degree of customizations available including Ever-Changing Rules and Environment Effects. Having played online the matches themselves seem to flow fine although I have not extensively tested this element due to this being review code, so I dont know how the servers will be until the game is released on Friday.
Graphically Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 looks absolutely stunning in all its Manga/Anime form. The cutscenes during the Story Mode really do set the tone for the battles with some great build up. The vibrant colours and art style oozes visual pleasure, especially when pulling off your characters Secret Technique. The graphics encompass everything that is great about Japanese Manga/Anime with so much over the top fight scenes you wonder how a character can get back up. There is even a secret technique that has a bunch of bikini clad girls getting involved in the fight. The games voiceovers in the main Story are performed excellently although voiceovers are slightly lacking in the Adventure Mode.
The Good Things
- Well presented Story Mode that makes you want to see it to the end.
- The graphics are outstanding and encompasses everything that is Japanese Manga/Anime
- Very accessible fighter with some of the most amazingly insane over-the-top moves.
And The Bad
- I would have liked to have seen the option to create Leagues and Tournaments in Online Battle.
- Finishing the Story Mode was fairly easy but getting the elusive S rank is a challenge.
- Adventure Mode may not blow you over as much as the Story Mode.
- I am fairly new when it comes to Manga/Anime titles but it is a genre I will be certainly looking in to a lot more. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is my first venture into the series but I have played other Manga titles so I had some knowledge on how the battle system works. Even if you are new, the games mechanics are easy to pick up and you will be pulling off secret techniques in no time. The more hardcore player may be slightly put off by this accessibility but as I found out there is more to wining a fight other than just pulling off the flashy Ninjitsu. I really enjoyed the story and the whole presentation kept me glued till the end. The change in Adventure Mode does a fairly good job of offering something slightly different. Both modes do have hours of play inside them and while Adventure mode can be repetitive I am enjoying it. One thing that I have noticed in this game is the amount of fan service attached which I think even people new to the series will love.
Highly enjoyable and entertaining story, reinforced with exhilarating and spectacular battles.