Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 packs in a lot of quality that any anime series-based game should bring. The game should please the fans and newcomers to the franchise as it serves up plenty of storyline, arcade fighting and ramen.
To the uninitiated, titular character Uzumaki Naruto is ostracised in the Village of Konoha because of the Nine-tailed Demon Fox sealed within him. But that doesn’t stop him from wanting to becoming the village leader and he soon gains the friendship, respect and the fighting skills of his peers.
Most of your time will be spent in Ultimate Adventure mode, where the story continues two years and a half after teammate Uchiha Sasuke’s defection from the village to seek revenge against his own brother for the loss of his family and clan. The ensuing story, of course, follows from the beginning of the Naruto Shippuden anime.
The game opens the world of the Shinobi Nations in free-roaming gameplay and is segregated into seven chapters, spanning three arcs (and 3 years worth of content) from the anime. As you explore the world around you, you will fulfil missions as a team or smaller side-quests on your own (you can drag your team into these optional quests and make the fighting easier). Your typical mission will have you going from point A to point B, then back to point A before heading to point C, and this involves quite a bit of a hike, which can slow down the action.
Fight sequences are usually varied and interesting, especially if you’ve seen it in the anime and want a first-hand experience, but it will get slightly repetitive, even with a gradual difficulty curve. Each character has their own special abilities and techniques. Combos are executed with punches to the Circle button, and Triangle + Circle for Charka-based moves that pack a heavier punch. Square tosses a few kunai at your opponent and a well-timed L2 performs a substitution jutsu. If you need it (sure you do), call in your teammates for support during battle and distract/damage your opponent further.
Boss battles bring something slightly different to the arena. After a bit of sparring, your enemy’s avatar will start to glow and a series of quick-time events will appear. Specific input sequences or a button to mash will make your battle that much easier. These epic moments are played out like the interactive cutscenes from Resident Evil 5 and spews out self-satisfaction when you blow your enemy away.
With missions done and requests fulfilled, you will earn money. Use it to get battle items, techniques and even stuff just for Naruto fans. Roam around searching flowers and pots for materials you can deliver to shops to unlock more useful battle items. Venture further into the story and you’ll unlock plenty of other playable characters for the VS fighting mode outside of the story.
A host of 40 unlockable characters await you should you choose to duke it out with Versus battles online. Find other players who really know their fighting moves or jam the buttons just as hard as you do. Or if you have a 2P controller, challenge the person next to you locally.
The game’s locations and surroundings are beautifully drawn with a painted-like effect, with the characters drawn in 3D cel-shaded models which reflect the original anime style very well. For the diehard fans, the original Japanese voice acting is included with the game’s default English voice acting and subtitles, bringing the full Japanese anime experience to the console. The music playing differentiates peacetime with that incoming battle feeling.
There are two-sides of the coin to playing this game. If you’ve already seen the Japanese broadcast, then you can anticipate what will happen next, which can be a total spoiler to the entire game, but can be fun to experience on your own. On the other hand, if you haven’t seen the series, especially the parts furthest into the game, which have only been recently broadcast in Japan, the game can serve as a total spoiler to the series.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 brings together an anime franchise with pretty visuals and plenty of action, but a bit of waiting during loading and moving all over the place can fizzle out the excitement. Fans of the franchise will love this worthwhile title, as well as beginners to arcade fighting genre.
Lasting Appeal: 7/10
Played to Chapter 3 with plenty of knowledge of the anime series. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is a Namco Bandai Game developed by CyberConnect2. Chakra: Energy essential for jutsu. Jutsu: skills or techniques. Kunai: throwing knives. Yosh!