Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Review (PS4)on February 4, 2016 by Oscar TK
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is the Metal Gear Solid 4 of Naruto games. And that’s not a bad thing. Similarly to how MGS4 affectionately closed out a legacy, so too does Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, not only the sixth and final game in the series, but also the first since the manga ended.
To top it off, they even end in a way that’s not too dissimilar. The Story Mode in Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is quite different to what you might be used to in previous Ultimate Ninja Storm games, though there is an Adventure Mode done in that more traditional style. The Story takes you linearly through the closing parts of the Naruto story. Each chapter often has a fairly lengthy opening and closing cutscene, with a battle in the middle, or sometimes even three battles, with custscenes breaking them up.
There’s no beating around the bush about it. The Story Mode presents you with an awful lot of story to sit and watch. Skipping the story would turn it from a good few hours long into one that wouldn’t take too much time at all. The chapters are usually split up into quite digestible chunks, though some are a bit overly long.
To be honest, I was never too enthused about the way Naruto ended, and it kind of lost me part way through the Great Ninja War, as it seems a lot of people I talk to were. It’s a long chunk of story that takes place basically in a wasteland, which is partially why it cannot be presented as a free roam story, and has to be so linear. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 doesn’t improve the story itself, but it does present a more friendly and pleasingly interactive version of it. The closing strokes of the Naruto story are presented in a way in Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 that perhaps even surpasses the source material, so packed with love is it, that the presentation and details seep through in every aspect.
The Story Mode isn’t challenging at all. And it’s not really meant to be. If you lose a fight you simply have the option to come back to life with increased attack or defence. It seems that the Story Mode, rather than being the de facto “play at least this” mode, is more just a celebration and retelling of the end of Naruto. Even the worst of players could quite easily muddle their way through and enjoy the ending of the Naruto story, and that’s kind of cool. The only mark I’d put against the Story Mode is that I loved the side-chapters, which aren’t necessary to complete the story and just provide a little bit of background and extra detail. There just aren’t many of them is the only thing — only four. Though in some ways this is answered by the Adventure Mode.
The Adventure mode’s main story involves Naruto, Sakura, and Hinata travelling around the various areas of Naruto‘s world on tasks for the Hokage and other people — with the secret goal of getting Naruto and Hinata to get together. It serves as a means to get the trio to remember some of the key battles from the Naruto story, which you then play as the player. The primary story is quite short, but there are plenty of extra sidequests and tonnes of extra memory fights to collect and play. There are no instant revivals here, so this is where the main challenge lies, with some of the Adventure mode fights being very challenging indeed!
The fighting system is the most refined of the Ultimate Ninja Storm series. It’s a little bit more complex to pick up and play than you might expect from an anime fighting game like this, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. There are multiple different systems at play here and when they all come together just right they can lead to some pretty spectacular moments. All of the characters play pretty much the same, though some have little quirks or tweaks. All characters throw projectiles with the left face button, jump or dash with the bottom, and lay out their main strikes with the right. The top button charges Chakra when held, or when tapped load up your Chakra for use, which can be combined with the other buttons. Tapping Chakra then projectile will throw a more powerful one, with dash will send you flying towards your opponent, with strike will use a special move. Tapping it twice and hitting strike will use you secret technique, or three times will use your linked secret technique with your teammates when the storm metre is full. Strikes can be chained into combos, and tilting the direction up or down partway through results in a different combo.
That’s quite a lengthy explanation, and it still doesn’t really scratch the surface of some of the things you can do. Most matches use a team system, so that up to 3 ninja can fight another 3. You can switch characters mid-combo, call in assist strikes. The whole thing. Substitution jutsu is still key here, but so too is knowing what to do when your substitution metre is low, and how to pressure you opponent into running out themselves. Guarding and counters are present, but can be quite risky, often zipping around the 3D arenas to dodge attack is the better option. Higher level play seems to revolve around making use of your assist characters, never letting their metres be full and not doing anything. It can seem a bit mashy, but there is usually method to the mash.
With a massive selection of characters on offer, there’s just a huge amount of Naruto love bursting out of the seams of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. It’s just a really lovely package that everyone can enjoy, from die hard Naruto fans to lapsed fans, and even those who want to catch up and get to know what Naruto is about via the Adventure mode. The fighting can take a little while to get into, but when it clicks it becomes an intense game of clashing, bluffing, and metre management. Everyone in the office had quite a bit of fun playing each other, even though everyone claimed Yamato’s throw was overpowered, who I was playing as. It kind of is, but after all, he is a wood jutsu master, so it’s fair enough.
It’s not over exaggerating to say that this is the best Naruto game yet, and it’s certainly the most complete.