Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 PS3 Review
Games based on some other form of media franchise such as film, animation or comic books have a tendency to stink. Hell, I'd even go so far as to say that the Superman Returns video game of 2006 smelled like blue cheese covered in burnt hair. Thankfully, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 smells as fresh as a daisy - a massive, deadly daisy.
Naruto is one of the most successful manga series of all time and one that I'm well acquainted with. Luckily for those new to the franchise, no introduction is necessary. Sure, if you really wanted to you could get yourself a couple of volumes of the manga series from Viz, the DVD's from Madman or even the previous games from your local video game purveyor but this real isn't necessary. In fact, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 does a great job of filling in the story from the very get-go. We are taken to Konohagakure and shown the incident that left Naruto, our fearless main character, as a vessel for the infinitely powerful Nine Tailed Fox. The story within the game is just as action packed as it is in the manga and seems to have made a conscious effort to include large scale battles, including one with the Nine Tailed Fox, instead of going from one human battle to another. As with other games in the series, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 allows you to fight alongside 2 compatriots, giving you the ability to call on them in your time of need to team up for thrice the ninja action.
As the name suggests, this game focusses on an older Naruto. A Naruto who has met with many a friend, foe and even a smattering of Jinchūriki - those who also also hold tailed beasts within them. With so many characters already introduced in the story it should come as no surprise that they will play some sort of a part in the game. In fact, the game boasts a whopping 80 playable characters! It doesn't take too long before you're in control of some of your favourite characters including Naruto (of course) and even Naruto's kinda-sorta nemesis, Sasuke. Those who are acquainted with the Ultimate Ninja Games will have no problem with the controls, however, those new to the franchise may find it a little bit awkward at times. I found myself referring to the control system quite frequently for special moves but found the general fight mechanics to be rather easy to grasp. Entering an "awakened" mode or pulling of an ultimate jutsu is a real blast, especially with such frenetic cut scenes.
In terms of animation, it is a Naruto fan's dream to be running around the world of Masashi Kishimoto's manga series. Seeing things that you've only ever seen on the page or from the anime. The animation style feels very much like a comic book, which makes complete sense. Benefitting from a cell shaded look, the characters look exactly how they should. Even during action filled cut scenes, backgrounds are interspersed with screentones to give it a real manga feel. The game does a really great job of making it feel as though you're actually playing inside the Naruto world that we know and love.
This game isn't just for Naruto fans and would certainly benefit anybody who is interested in the franchise or even your average manga or anime fan. That said, Naruto fans will love this game. There's nothing more exciting than running around as a character that you know and love and pulling off moves that only they can. Although the game's controls are somewhat difficult to grasp, it's nothing that a few "VS" rounds and reference to the control guide won't fix. Before too long you'll be slinging around all forms of ninjutsu!
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is available now on PS3 and Xbox 360.