Title: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution
Platform: Steam, Windows, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360

Reviewed on: Xbox 360

Genre: Beat em’ up
Players: Single player, Multiplayer


Written by Bad Demoman 5th October 2014



















I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of Naruto, but not the smallest either. I know what's generally going on in the anime, I like the characters and everything, but I can never really get in to a show with that many episodes. Which is why I've enjoyed the Ultimate Ninja Storm series – it allows me to enjoy Naruto without sinking hundreds of hours into the anime. Much like the Dragon Ball Z Budokai series, the Ultimate Ninja Storm series is known for having little more than a roster update in subsequent games, so it begs the question, is the 5th game in the series worth your money?
























It's worth noting that Revolution is a spin-off of sorts, much like Generations. This means that, unlike Ultimate Ninja Storm 1 through 3, it doesn't have a story mode that follows a specific arc of the anime series. Instead it has the non-canonical Ninja World Tournament. It could be seen in a way akin to ''Filler arcs'' in the anime and manga. The Ninja World Tournament is intended to be the bulk of the single-player experience. This mode requires you to work your way through the ranks of the tournament itself, and doing so unlocks more of the map and more challenges to complete. A large part of the game is exploring the world map and interacting with the people around it. Various shops are dotted around to help you out. You can use Ryo won in fights to buy bento to temporarily improve your stats, ninja tools to use in battle, or even just accessories to make your character a bit more personal. You can also talk to people to get quests to do for them, which can unlock anything from more accessories to more characters and costumes. These quests can be a bit repetitive and unvaried. In my experience they seem to largely be either ''Go here, fight this guy'' or ''Find this, bring it back''. Occasionally something slightly different was offered, such as a quiz on Naruto trivia, but they essentially end up as distractions from the main tournament. Since a large part of this mode will be navigating the world map, a feature that I really wish had been in previous games is introduced – an NPC that can teleport you to various points on the map. One of my main grievances with previous games was walking through the same areas over and over again to progress in the story. I swear if I have to walk through the Hidden Leaf Village one more time...


The tournament battles are slightly different from what you would expect from the series so far. You are required to make a team of three characters, who will be required to fight as a relay of sorts. In each tournament battle, there will be three matches, each utilizing a different member of your team. Each match is a four man free-for-all, but instead of fighting to reduce your opponents’ hit points to zero, you are fighting to collect the most orbs. Orbs are spilled out whenever a character is hit. This is a novel concept, but it does end up coming across a bit gimmicky. Since there's four people in the arena instead of two, a lock-on is introduced so you can change who your screen is focussed on, but it ends up a bit finicky and a lot of the time, it really doesn't seem to matter who you hit. This isn't helped by the fact that, in the earlier ranks at least, the AI is insultingly stupid. Sometimes they just run around in circles, stand completely still or ignore the player character completely, preferring to beat the tar out of every one else. The battles don't particularly work well with four people, it really shows that the game is originally designed for one-on-one instead. The arena itself is slightly bland, being a grey circle surrounded by grey walls, but it does have one upside. Instead of merely being a backdrop to your fight, the arena will occasionally spawn grinding rails at the edges, which will allow you to perform special moves, such as catapulting off the rail at high speed towards an opponent or sending you airborne to rain the arena with chakra blasts. It helps to remove a bit of the monotony of collecting orbs, but not by enough to make this mode particularly fun.  The Ninja World Tournament also has a side mode based around the new character designed by Masashi Kishimoto specifically for this game – Mecha Naruto. This works slightly more like previous games, with a storyline and specific events you need to walk between. This mode still uses the Ninja World Tournament matches though, so it still has all the problems associated with it.

























Ninja Escapades is probably the best part of the single-player experience of the game, which is a shame because it seems to be pushed to the side in favour of Ninja World Tournament. Ninja Escapades has three scenarios based on unexplored parts of Naruto lore, such as the creation of the Akatsuki. These scenarios are made up of new, slick animations in the style of the anime, and set battles in between – no walking about required. This mode is criminally short though. Each scenario is half an hour to an hour long, leaving you wanting more. I would have much preferred more of this to Ninja World Tournament.


The real highlight of the game lies in the multi-player though. Playing against a human opponent allows you to see the true potential of the combat much more than collecting orbs, or even just fighting against a computer in general will. It's tense and fast, and ridiculously easy to pick up compared to most other fighting games. That's not to say it lacks depth however. The mind-games involved can become quite complex. Even something as simple as charging your chakra meter has a multitude of branching reactions – will your opponent do the same to put you on an even footing, or will they take the offensive to prevent you from gaining more power? This is especially critical because chakra management is really important, especially for using the chakra-powered dash that can extend combos or save you from an opponent’s well-timed substitution. Speaking of substitution, management of your substitution is also important, and one part of combat that I don't like is that it sometimes comes down to ''Who ever runs out of substitutions first loses''. It’s not too frustrating though. The addition of the guard breaker makes taking the defensive a more risky proposition, while the addition of counter attacks also increase the risk of all-out offence. Every action you take needs to be considered deeply. The ultimate jutsu moves are extremely satisfying, especially when used to finish off an opponent. This is occasionally accompanied by cut-ins from the anime with a quote from your character that should appeal to the die-hard fans. The lengthy animations may get tiresome eventually, but if this becomes the case you can simply stop using ultimate jutsu, and instead use Awakening modes. This allows your character to become an unstoppable force capable of some ridiculous damage, although this is more situational. Some characters have ridiculously good Awakenings, while others have underwhelming ones. Of course, with a cast that only continues to grow as the series goes on, there is inevitably some imbalance. Generally, anyone who is a major main character is exceptionally powerful. Especially anyone with the last name ''Uchiha''. It's a bit like how the Mishimas dominate the top tiers of Tekken. The more powerful characters aren't insurmountable most the time, but it's a struggle to beat them with the lower end characters. It's all the more satisfying to beat a main character with a side character that barely anyone has heard of.


There is, unfortunately, one downside to Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm. One giant elephant in the room that severely hinders my enjoyment of the game – It's the exact same game that's been released 5 times now, with a couple new characters and a gimmicky new mode. Art and sound assets are largely the same, and it’s really noticeable when some of the new costumes seem to be slightly nicer and smoother than the rest. It’s odd then, that in spite of the use of old assets the loading times are sluggish on both console versions and the PC version. For those that actually mind, it is also locked at 30fps. This can be a massive turning point for a lot of people, especially for fighting games. Honestly though, I didn't even notice – the game looks incredibly smooth and in spite of the old assets, it looks fantastic.


























Overall, the game is great fun, especially with some friends to play with. The single-player is underwhelming, but chances are it's not really what you're there for. The problem is, you might find it not a particularly worthwhile purchase. It’s difficult to justify a full price game for a roster update (Although I reckon there's a pretty good chance the console versions will go down in price pretty quick, and the PC version being in a Steam sale is pretty much inevitable). Fans of the series will probably get more out of it than others, but let’s be honest – if you're a fan, you probably own the rest of the series.


Pros:

Frantic, fun combat with more depth than you'd expect,

Looks absolutely fantastic, especially for a previous gen game,

Ridiculously large cast of characters provides plenty of variety.


Cons:

Underwhelming single-player experience,

Feels like not much has changed since previous games,

Unbalanced roster.


Final verdict,

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution gets a 6.5 out of 10.


Written by,

Bad Demoman



















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