Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations
The next entry in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series is here, and it still has some life left in it. Does Generations do enough to keep things fresh and the fans happy, or has it run out of steam completely?
- Worth The Time?Yes, to any Naruto fan.
- Things LovedThe visuals are as gorgeous as ever, the massive character roster, the new stages, the awesome music, the highly addictive and enjoyable gameplay, unlocking characters is easy and quick, the loading times have been reduced significantly.
- Things HatedThe epic boss battles are gone, the story mode is very limited, younger characters can feel redundant, some Awakening modes are still completely overpowered while others are useless, hardly anything has changed.
- RecommendationAs a Naruto fan, the thing that may make you hesitant to buy this is the price tag, which feels a bit much. That, and the fact that as a whole the game is just a minor refinement over its predecessor and not much more. However, it's a great offering for fans of the anime, and the enormous character roster ensures that you'll be enjoying this game for a long time to come. Die hard fans with buddies to play this with won't regret buying it.
- Name: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations
- Genre: Fighting
- Players: 1-2
- Multiplayer: Online (1-2 players)
- Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: CyberConnect2
- Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
- Price: R499
- Reviewed On: PS3
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is the third entry in the next-gen series, boasting the largest character roster for the franchise to date. It includes all of the characters from the previous two games, as well as some new ones to make a total of 72 playable characters. It’s a large number, that’s for sure, but considering that we’ve played this game twice before and experienced most of these characters and story arcs, Generations definitely had its work cut out for it to make it worth the time once again. While an obvious eyebrow-raiser would be the game’s price, which is a bit more than expected, the game did have a fair amount of ambition, and if there’s one thing that’s clear it’s that Cyberconnect2 really knows how to dish out fan service in style, and in large amounts. Of course the question that needs to be answered now would be whether or not this series still had some life left in it.
For better or worse though, aside from the large character roster, Generations is more or less the same package as its predecessor, including a new story mode and the obligatory Free Battle and Online modes. There’s also Survival, where players are given one health bar and need to beat as many opponents as they can with it, Tournament mode, which sets up a bout with a number of characters, and Training, which is self-explanatory. There’s also the Shop, where you can buy a whole lot of little extras, but it isn’t anything be excited about because aside from the extra Substitution models, there’s nothing to buy that adds to gameplay. It’s pretty standard for the series though. The one major plus is that the game comes packaged with all of the fighting arenas from the first two games as well as a number of new ones, which is excellent. However, to focus on one of the most controversial aspects of the game, the story mode has undergone a massive change, and while in some ways it’s for the better, for the most part it feels disappointing and lackluster, and a rather lifeless experience.
The story mode in Generations offers a number of scenarios following the stories of various characters from the show. It’s a nice touch that the story is told through images from the anime, voice-overs, text summaries and actual anime content in the form of cutscenes, but the problem is that the story mode has basically become a glorified arcade mode without much substance. The good part to this is that unlocking characters takes really quick, and you can get them all in hardly a day’s work, but the real letdown is that there’s no more exploring the Naruto universe and no epic boss battles whatsoever. The former could easily be forgiven for me if some of the big story battles had been recreated in gloriously epic style that the series is known for because of the last two games, but it’s all been reduced to straight up fights, one after the other with nothing else to add variety. Hell, I wouldn’t have minded if Generations had rehashed all of the boss battles from the last two games and just added some new ones. That would have been great, but as it stands the story mode is a very shallow and dry affair that you’ll just want to get done with to get all of the characters. It really doesn’t capture the sense of epic we’ve come to expect from this series, and it seriously damages the single-player experience.
The gameplay in Generations is almost identical to its predecessor, with the developers only really aiming for minor refinement to the core mechanics rather than changing anything significantly. However, the main change is with the Substitution technique, which previously allowed you to evade your opponent’s attacks with the right timing and by depleting your Chakra bar. Now, the timing has become extremely generous, but you’re only given a limited number of uses governed by a yellow bar divided into four blocks that is located under your Chakra bar. The yellow bar is recharged during combat, but it has a noticeable delay so if you use up all of your Substitutions you’ll become susceptible to extremely damaging attacks from your opponent if they manage to break your guard. This makes combat more about resource management, and it also makes the system a bit more approachable to less skilled players. Fortunately it works pretty well, putting a greater emphasis on landing combos on your opponent and trying to do the most damage during these short windows of vulnerability.
The great part is that battles still feel as fun and fluid as ever. It’s even easier than before for fans to jump in and have an awesome time challenging friends, and the amount of characters on offer will definitely help keep things fresh and exciting. However, the one problem with the roster is that the younger versions of the characters can feel pretty redundant compared to their older, more varied counterparts. Not just that, but their techniques are naturally more primitive as well, so most fans would probably just go for the newer and more awesome versions of the characters. Sure they’re still fun to play, and provide a good sense of nostalgia, but chances are that they won’t really be used much. Still, there’s not a whole lot to complain about with regards to having so many options, and it is really pleasing to have all of the characters available on one disc. Furthermore, the new characters are most definitely welcome, and it’s good to see the likes of Haku and Zabuza be included, since both of them were strangely left out of the first game. It’s really fantastic to experience all of the game’s characters and to just enjoy the ease of play and frantically exciting gameplay, which is rewarding for fans.
Perhaps the main concern with Generations is that you’d think that because most of the content has been rehashed from the previous two games, with specific reference to the characters and gameplay, the developers would have taken the time to balance things out or perhaps add more jutsus and special moves to certain characters. Sadly, this isn’t the case, and in many ways the game can still feel very unbalanced, especially when it comes to characters’ Awakening modes, because some are still dramatically overpowered while others are just plain useless. I understand that the game is simply meant for fun and to be enjoyed by its fans, but it does hurt the competitive factor when it comes to online play, and you discover the many cheap ways in which you can be completely destroyed. Fortunately the online mode is good, and it’s easily accessible and also features Replay support, which allows you to watch and download replays of matches between other players, and Spectator mode, which lets you view matches online to learn new things or if you don’t feel like playing yourself.
At the end of the day, Generations succeeds at being highly entertaining. The price tag could put you off when considering that there is hardly any substance for those who were looking forward to another great single-player experience, and the only really big selling point is the gameplay, and getting to have all of the characters and stages, plus what’s new, on a single disc. If that’s enough to sell you on this, then you definitely won’t regret making this purchase, especially if you have a lot of eager friends willing to play this with you, because it feels more refined than its predecessor and is still a hell of a lot of fun to pick up and play. There’s a lot on offer here to satisfy fans, but it’s undeniable that more could have been done here, most of all with regards to the single-player experience, which is a serious letdown. Generations isn’t really a major step up, but it’s worth it if you’re not planning on playing it alone.
The game’s visuals are still jaw-dropping, even if it is the third time we’re seeing it. Generations just looks incredible in motion, and still manages to impress despite not improving over its predecessor by a large margin. The animation is fast and fluid, and fights are a vibrant, colourful and brilliant sight to behold. The new stages look great, and are very well detailed, and definitely not as bland as the ones from the first game, so there’s plenty of variety to enjoy in this regard. The anime cutscenes certainly look great in high definition, but some fans may be upset at the fact that they’ve been dumbed down when it comes to blood and intensity. As always the music is fantastic, and it’s a soundtrack perfectly fitting for this game. Technically the game is more or less flawless, and one of the most pleasing things about Generations is that the loading times everywhere have been reduced significantly when compared to its predecessors. This greatly improves the player experience, and it makes progressing through the main story mode a bit less of a chore, and moving from fight to fight quite seamless.
In the end Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations gets by as a minor refinement over its predecessor, even if it is seriously lacking in terms of its story mode and single player experience. The good part is that fights still feel and look as amazing as ever, and it’s still great fun to play. It’s definitely a game that knows how to give its fans an awesome time, and you certainly won’t regret buying it if you have friends to play it with, but it feels like a bit more could have been done with this game overall.