Its been a long while since I touched a Naruto game. The last Naruto Game I played was Rise of Ninja 1 on the 360 and Ultimate Ninja 4 on the PS2. While I think Narutimate Hero 3 for the PS2 has to be the best in the series of Naruto games (despite how unbelievably broken that game is) the future games have a lot to work on.
Like with most Naruto games you play through famous events in the anime/manga series. This game goes from right after the famous battle with Pain to the Great Ninja War. While it may not seem like much it actually a bit long. Took me about 12 hours to finish it. I've heard complaints that the story isn't accurate such as certain characters dying and how the battles played out didn't exactly end that way. But honestly who cares. To me its FAR better than reading the Manga or waiting on episodes to come out to drag the story out far more than it needs to be.
Graphics and Voices.
The graphics are pretty nice. And the fact that the game has like 60+ characters to choose from is a nice touch. I am annoyed that the world map post game is pretty much the size of Kansas. The voice overs are actually pretty good. The game should have its name changed to "Naruto Ultimate Voice Actor Storm 3". Seriously just about every character in this game is voiced by someone rather well known. There's also a japanese option for those that hate the English language.
This is where I feel the game falls short. While this being my first Ninja Storm game, the gameplay change from the days of old are long gone. My first gripe came with the 3D Battlefield. The camera doesn't focus behind the character you're using. Instead whoever is closest to the TV screen is who the camera will focus on. And I'll tell you I had tons of problems figuring out where I was at times. Especially when certain characters move so quick its was easy for me to lose track of where they were. I also had the issue of not being able to see small projectiles fly towards me till they were too late. I pretty much had to hold the guard button or take the hit. During Story Mode this was far worse in certain battles especially the final battle. The characters were so big they took up the whole screen and I had no idea what I was getting hit by. I really wished the camera focused behind me all the time and just give an arrow to show if my opponent ran off screen.
Story mode felt like an RPG mode. While the dialogue is nice. Sometimes the conversations dragged on for 30 minutes. In the middle of a boss fight. If it wasn't for the fact that I wanted to know how the story plays out without reading the Manga or watching the Anime I would hit that skip scene option ages ago. Seriously the characters would talk forever.
There's also the fact that EVERY BUTTON ON THIS CONTROLLER DOES SOMETHING. While I tried adjusting the controls to a setting more comfortable it still didn't work for me. I just had to adapt to the default settings and roll with it. It didn't help that my big hands would accidentally flick the Right Stick which for some characters triggered an awakening state.
But probably my biggest gripe when it comes to controls is the lack of a Tutorial mode. While the game randomly throws out hints inbetween loading screens. Unless you play the story mode and actually pause to the tutorial option you won't know how to play the game. Needless to say the Instruction Manual is pretty much garbage in this regard as well (its 5 pages long and only 2 of them list the controls one in english and one in spanish). I guess the makers of this game expected you to already know how to play the game from the start. So its literally an uphill battle learning to play this game.
The Online play was generally where I just barfed. While I can deal with the controls and camera angles. Online play is another story. The netcode is pretty bad. While I found 4/5 bar connections. Usually under these 3 guys who have tons of matches under there belt to start. The rest were 2 and below. The moment I jumped into battle it starts out nice but then the game starts throwing button lag simmaller to when I played KoF12. What I mean the game would think I had pressed LT and pretty much just waste all my substitutions. I got the same thing with the Y button. Where I know I hit the Y button once then hit B. But I actually got Y,Y,B which turned my attack into a super attack at the worse possible moment. The lag would kick in about 25 seconds in the fight where I'll start seeing "Transmitting..." on my screen and I would think oh great Rage Quitter or lag switch. This was just absolutely horrible for me I thought Marvel 3 was bad with this. But this is definitely a game I would rather play offline.
I'm not sure about balance issues. I honestly don't care about character balancing. I mean its an Anime Based Fighting game. To me its going to be automatically unbalanced.
Honestly CC2 needs to work on making sure there songs sound different from each other. While in some cases they do sound different from other games they have worked on. You can seriously listen to the OST and think that you were playing a Dot.Hack game. I turned off the music for that reason and played songs that were far more fitting.
End Point 6.5/10
Overall at the end of the day. The game is decent. But if I had the option I would go back to the PS2 and play those Naruto games. And with the knowledge that there's going to be an expansion of this game coming in November. I'm somewhat disappointed in this game. Its at least playable but the online play and camera ruin the experience for me.