Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst Review
Now here’s an unusual release. Despite having never even glanced in the PC’s direction until now, Namco Bandai Games have chosen to roll out the third core title in their highly successful Naruto tie-in series on our humble platform.
And it’s not just any version of Naruto Hippuden: Ultimate Ninja STORM 3 — it’s the the absolute latest release, coming with all the DLC bundled in and including the recently released Full Burst expansion, which continues the story up to the current episode of the anime, adds a new playable character and polishes up the cutscenes for extra mystical ninja authenticity.
As this is the first game in the franchise to ever see the light of day on the humble Personal Computer system, we’ll be looking at it from the perspective of series newcomers. While some of the criticism leveled at the game might seem unfair to series fans, bear with us; those who haven’t waded through the games to date might well be a little lost if dropped straight into Ultimate Ninja STORM 3. If you are a Naruto veteran, feel free to gloss over any complaints about accessibility or coherence with which you might take umbrage.
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Ultimate Ninja STORM 3 Full Burst
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Release Date: Oct. 25, 2013
Based on the phenomenally popular and equally long-running manga and anime franchise, the NUNS series (we’ll be sticking to that amusing acronym in order to avoid crippling RSI) is widely regarded as one of the better adaptations of the source material to date. Set in a strange world where ninja villages operate out in the open, and their contracts are as likely to regard gardening as they are assassination, players step (primarily) into the shoes of Naruto, a plucky, catchphrase-spouting ninja teen with a can-do attitude and a heart of gold.
It would be difficult to fill anyone in on the plot in the space of this review, as the game picks up the story shortly after the 17th season of the anime. Over the course of a respectably lengthy campaign (most will clear the campaign mode in 12-13 hours, and the side-missions and additional content in maybe another 10-15 hours), NUNS3 speeds through the story of the remaining 4-5 seasons, bringing the game up to the very latest story arc. Needless to say, there are bad things going down in Ninja World — specifically, a Fourth Ninja World War is brewing — and Naruto and friends need to band together, assemble the ninja villages under a grand banner and take the fight to a band of villains and their legion of mutant zombie ninja clones.
As silly as this might sound, the delivery in-game is mostly straight-faced and enormously melodramatic. In the capable hands of developers CyberConnect2 (responsible for the spectacular and absurd Asura’s Wrath), NUNS3 is a festival of overblown excess. Every fight is a fierce clash of mystical ninja powers and gravity-defying acrobatics. Every dialogue sequence is wrought with angst and extended exposition, and even sequences where you’re just casually walking down a forest path are often interspersed with dramatic flashbacks to earlier story points.
Newcomers will have to sustain themselves on the sheer volume of cheese layered onto the action, as the game drops you straight into the story without much clue as to who any of the characters are, nor their motivations. The entire game makes the assumption that the player is fresh from the previous two NUNS games, or at least caught up with the current plot points. This becomes all the more apparent when tutorial prompts only explain the newer concepts of the series, leaving newcomers without any proper introduction to the combat engine. A pity, as the game is a unique and innovative take on the fighting game.