It’s almost like a game of the year edition – Lucky!
Towards the end of last year, Namco Bandai’s Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 made its first appearance on the PC. However, this PC version didn’t turn up the same as when it had arrived earlier in the year on the home consoles – Lucky PC gamers could get their hands on the Full Burst Edition which included tweaks, improvements and new content. Obviously, PC gamers were very happy about this.
So it makes sense that Namco Bandai would release an Xbox360 and PS3 version of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst, although many would wonder if it is too soon after the original version, with less than a year having passed between releases. However, Full Burst (which is how I will refer to the game from now on as the full title is too damn long) is the best version of the game, so surely would appeal to the fans of the Ninja boy’s adventures? Well, yeah, providing they didn’t buy the game when it first launched… which they probably did.
Let’s get the basics out of the way – Full Burst is a fighting game for the most part, although quite unlike the majority of fighting games on the market. Firstly, the game tells a story, which is unusual in itself, and the story is quite involving. The fighting, on the other hand, is not. It lacks the skill that can be found in the more high profile fighting games, preferring to simplify things and allow players of all skill levels to perform incredibly satisfying, cinematically pleasing moves.
At its most basic, you have a single melee button along with buttons for jumping, throwing a projectile, Chakra use, block and the Naruto version of dodge – substitution. Combos can be performed by using the melee button and left stick, giving rise to a few more interesting attacks. Hugely impressive Jutsu moves can be triggered by charging Chakra with the assigned button. The fights are quick and cinematically fit in well with the Naruto Anime, for the fans of the show. But these encounters, which make up the majority of the gameplay in Full Burst, are designed to be accessible, something which they succeed in.
Variety is provided by the variations in the battles, such as 1v1 and 3v3, an almost open world environment to explore, Quick Time Events and massive battles. Of course, the roster of some 80 odd different characters really helps keep things fresh aswell. Although not all of the characters are completely different, with some variations on the same character, the variety of different combos available will keep the average fighting game player happy for ages. And the fans of Naruto themselves are pretty much guaranteed to find their favorite character faithfully reproduced in both the looks and the way they move.
In fact, the way that Full Burst looks is a real highlight. The characters all look how they should, the locations can be easily recognised from the Anime show or Manga, and the lengthy cut scenes (which really are incredibly long) lose no quality compared to the show. This is in part thanks to one of the main improvements in Full Burst over the original game. All of the games cinematics have been enhanced for this version, making Full Burst not only the best looking version of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, or the best looking Naruto game, but one of the better looking fighting games I have ever played. It is an experience to watch, which is quite handy as the Ultimate Adventure mode, in which you will find the story, is very long and filled to the brim with cinemtatic scenes.
This is because the game has a story to tell, one which will probably only make sense if the player is up to date with the Naruto Anime or Manga. The story is leading up to the Fourth Ninja War, bringing the story up to date with the Anime, more or less. Jumping in to this tale of Ninja villages will be difficult for anyone who has never experienced any Naruto before – there are many seasons of the show that lead up to the beginning of this particular story – emphasizing the fact that Full Burst is a game for the fans. In fact, the lack of tutorial would suggest that anyone picking up Full Burst would certainly be better served if they have prior experience not only of the story, but also the previous games in the series.
Anyway, Full Burst also packs in some additional content over the original version of the game. There is one, yes one, additional character included in the form of Sage Kabuto, which is a little disappointing. But there are an additional 38 costumes from the previous DLC packs, which is nice. The largest amount of additional content comes in the form of 100 new challenge levels. These bitesize challenges have the player taking on a battle with certain limitations. They are not especially interesting, but a nice addition nonetheless. However, the most interesting addition in Full Burst, at least from the fans point of view, is an extra chapter which revolves around Sasuke and Itachi Uchiha against the additional character Sage Kabuto. This chapter really ramps up the difficulty, suggesting it is more aimed at the veteran players of the series.
The real problem with Full Burst comes from the extremely narrow audience that it will appeal to. To get the most from the game, players will have to be major Naruto fans, and more or less up to date with the show. But then, if they are such big fans, they will have picked up the original game when it launched last year, making this version unappealing for the minimal additional content and improved cinematics.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst is the best Naruto game thus far. It plays well, looks stunning and has more content than you could shake a Shuriken at. But the timing and target audience means that the game will only really appeal to any Naruto fans that have been on some kind of Ninja crusade for the last year and been away from their console.