STAFF REVIEW of NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 (Xbox 360)

Monday, November 8, 2010.
by Brent Roberts

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 Box art When it comes to anime, very few can last the ages, however Naruto is one of those that stands above the rest. In Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, Namco Bandai set their sights to deliver not only a beautiful game, but one that is true to the essence of Naruto and gives gamers a chance to play out some of the most pivotal fights from the show. Has Namco Bandai got a hit with this latest Naruto title, or does this need to get a little more training before it can master the ninja arts? Get ready to charge your Chakra my fellow ninjitsu students because XboxAddict is taking you deep into the world of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2.

In this latest installment of Naruto, you have multiple choices such as online fighting and the crux of the game, the Ultimate Adventure mode. The online fighting is something that Namco Bandai have worked hard to polish, but after attempting a few battles you can see that they have made a fighting system that is very simplistic and easy to pick up and play, yet hard to master. The reason this is so intriguing is that for the fighting sequences you have 4 basic buttons: melee attack, ranged attack, jump, block. Also you can use different items while in battle as long as they are mapped to the directional pad as a hot key. Now here is where it gets interesting, you can use your Chakra to create new moves and ultimately turn the tide in battle. Given the fact that you press one button (B) to do melee attacks, you will end up mashing that button a lot, and when I say a lot, I mean a LOT. How this all ties together is the fact that with different directional pushes on the left stick and combined with both Chakra and melee, you can make Naruto perform some pretty flashy and effective moves. Also in the fighting you now have a partner that can be used in multiple ways to either help you by saving your life, or by adding his/her own power into your own attacks to increase damage and length of your combo.

The gameplay, while innovative, does have its faults. One of the biggest gripes I could find was the constant walking through a very limited version of the Hidden Leaf Village. Pre-set camera angles mean that your Ultimate Adventure is nothing more than running through an already defined layout of mini map area, after mini map area. This can, without question, become very, very boring very, very quickly indeed. Throughout your adventure you will come across different shops which can not only sell you various items, but will allow you to in essence, make items by ordering them. This however requires you to gather material, and how do you gather material you ask? In order for Naruto to gather material he has to constantly travel areas and stop to examine certain items or flowers that stand out in the map. This takes away from a lot of the fluidity of the game, and this leads us into the next drawback, the text reading.

In Naruto you will have to read a LOT of voice communications as you talk to different people throughout your journey. This is extremely time consuming and really makes the gameplay slow down till it almost becomes dull. When combined with the constant travel to the same areas over and over again, all the while trying to scavenge for some material, and the preset camera positions, would normally make this game one to pass on, except for believe it or not, QuickTime events.

One of Naruto's biggest strong points are the graphics. The background images are done in beautiful detail in an almost watercolor style artwork. The characters all come to life in very fluid animation and detail, and Namco Bandai is making sure that the fans of Naruto enjoy every visual moment of the game. What really sets off the graphics in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 are the over the top crazy anime graphics of the boss battles. It really is the diamond in the rough because you trek your way through countless linear maps, spend almost half the time reading text from other characters, and put in all this boring effort to get to the boss battles, which I have to say are epic. These battles are what make this game enjoyable and each of them happen during a quick time event. To say more about them would to give away the best part of the game, however, when your strongest factor going for you are quick time events, then something is amiss.

In Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 the music offers us a beautiful piece to bring us to the main menu, and from there it all goes downhill and fast. During your adventure your ears are treated to a generic loop of music that plays over and over again. Granted there are times where you hear different music, such as boss battles and different levels, but most of the time you will be listening to a loop of music playing again and again. Now with that said, the music does offer various instruments within these loops such a flute and piano to help bring certain emotions through. This entry into the world of Naruto does not offer a wide, diverse soundtrack. Instead it offers up a limited amount of music (which is good) with a bunch of loops added in.

Now that we have covered the good and the bad, does this Naruto title do the anime justice? The answer unfortunately is no. With previous titles offering a better quality Naruto experience, this is not an Ultimate Ninja but more like a ninja-in-training. When you boil it down to the bottom line, the hours you will spend not only hearing repetitive music loops, but also trudging through repetitive linear maps with a fixed camera, far outweighs the beauty of the brief quick time moments. We're sorry Naruto, but the master is not pleased.

Overall: 7.6 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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