It’s simply wonderful when a title transfers from one medium to another and in doing so the quality of it not only remains, but even increases significantly. This was the case with the Ultimate Ninja Storm series, made by the famous Japanese studio Cyber Connect 2. It’s utterly incredible what the Japanese managed to accomplish in regards to the visual impression that the game left on all fans of the Naruto series. From one sequel to the next, they experimented on various points, but one was certain – it was almost better to watch any fight between two players than an episode of anime. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 isn’t an exception here, but it raises the bar even higher and presents us with a game that looks so good that you won’t be left indifferent, no matter whether you’re a fan of the series or not.
The fourth sequel is special because of many things. It is the first that delves into the manga’s final chapters, even before the anime did. It is also the last installment of the series and it has, up to now, an unprecedented number of characters to choose from. It has a numerous innovations to the combat system and the best representation of its story mode. To put it simply, this is a dream come true for every Naruto fan. Although it’s hard to decide where to start, we decided to try with the most impressive feat – the graphics, which mesmerize from the first glance.
It remains unknown what’s the number of pacts with the Devil to which Cyber Connect 2 undoubtedly agreed with to make the game look this wonderful. Even their PlayStation 2 games still look great today. Not to mention the Storm series which are probably the most beautiful games based on an anime series. The fourth sequel continues this tradition. It looks so good, it will probably make you feel like a kid watching his very first cartoon. The game is bursting with effects and unrealistically well modeled characters and animations. Most of the materials are “recycled” from previous sequels and upscaled, so they fit well with the new additions and everything simply feels fresh and new. From characters, to levels, and even hand-drawn landscapes you travel through during your adventure, to unrealistically colorful and impressive effects of special attacks – everything, absolutely everything, is a steroid-infused ballet for your visual experience. Just watching the game without even playing it could count as an excellent form of entertainment.
But enough about graphics. One thing that changed from game to game was the story mode through which the players mostly played through to go through the story and unlock new characters. It was often the flaw of the game because it took dozens of hours to unlock all characters, and you had to go through numerous monotonous missions. In this sequel, this issue is solved by separating the mode in two – story and adventure. Story mode represents the story of the final chapters of the manga told through 2D and 3D animations, as well as battles which include boss fights. This is where the unstoppable momentum of the game lies – because the whole story is told in an interesting way, without the boring fillers from which the anime series suffers from. In a period of 6-8 hours you will go through some thirty fights, a bunch of boss fights and see enough of the storyline to be reminded of why you love the Naruto series so much. Or to fall in love with it for the first time. A useful addition is an approximately specified duration of each chapter before you start it. This is definitely the best “directed” story mode of the series.
Adventure more offers a traditional approach to the story, where you will control a character and travel around the world completing missions. Adventure mode’s storyline follows the events that take place after the story mode, and although not particularly interesting, it will offer you many more hours of exploration and an opportunity to re-live many classic battles from the series. The fact that this mode is separated from the main story mode is a huge plus. After you finish the story mode you will certainly appreciate the adventure mode’s pace, which could otherwise be a nuisance if the main story’s pace was dictated by it.
The combat system was also significantly redefined. You will no longer bite your gamepad out of frustration when your opponent counters you and then leaves you to wobble helplessly while he proceeds to slap you. The penalty for a counter hit is now much lower. In addition, perhaps the biggest improvement in the fights is the ability to take control of any of the support characters. This will open up opportunities for a more diverse approach to combat, where you will be able to dismiss the characters almost at any time, and therefore make improvised combos. Now, even the selection of the support type is removed, so it’s your choice of the support character that will determine their behavior in combat. Add to this the possibility of fighting on two won rounds (the winner retains the remaining energy), the fact that clothing and weapons suffer durability damage, and a lot of small modifications which the players have been calling for in the past and you will get deep game mechanics that’s very easy to learn, but devilishly hard to fully master. There is no doubt, combat of this final sequel is the most polished yet and it represents the culmination of what had somehow eluded the Cyber Connect 2 team in the past few titles. Those who complained about the briefness of special moves animations which were implemented in the second game, now won’t be able to remain indifferent to some attacks, because they can often be very lengthy. And not to mention once again – of incredibly high quality. The combat system also deserves all praises. They’ve really outdone themselves this time.
We can also remark the music, which is good as usual, especially during adventure mode, where it slowly inserts you into the atmosphere and Naruto’s universe. No fan of the series will be able to resist its charm. And combined with the beautifully drawn locations and perfectly animated fights, the music will leave you with an impression of a perfectly composed game. For those few rare flaws, we have the already established problems with online combat and bad connections. We can only hope that these will be dealt with through future updates.
In the end, there is no doubt that we have currently reached a climax when it comes to Naruto games. If you’re a fan of the manga, anime or the game series, you are probably already playing the game. If you are none of those listed above, and the game seems like it’s something light years away from genres you like – give it a go anyway. There is no doubt that this masterpiece which beggars only superlative descriptions will simply blow your mind. A game that certainly still reaches towards visual anime perfection.
Author: Milan Živković