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Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is a fighting game based, as you might have guessed, on the anime Naruto. I have a habit of playing games for things I've never watched and learning what they are about that way, especially for anime such as this as there are so many episodes. I tend to find games show the same storyline, but quicker and you can interact with it too rather than just sitting there watching it. Having said that, this isn't a game that is over quickly and with all the cut scenes you may as well just watch the episodes if you really just want to know the storyline.
However, it was my friend who bought this game as she is a massive fan of Naruto so I shall be including her views of the game as well as my own, meaning you can see the view of someone who is a fan and someone who isn't.
To explain the whole of Naruto would take a long time as there are so many episodes so I'll try and sum it up. The game begins at the first Naruto Shippuden episode and ends at the Invasion of Pain Arc, covering well over 100 episodes. For those of you who know nothing about Naruto that won't mean much and for those who do you'll already know what the storyline is.
Naruto: Shippuden is the sequel to the original Naruto anime. For anyone still wondering what Naruto is, it is the story of Naruto Uzumaki who is a ninja. Naruto is aiming to be recognised and wants to become a Hokage (leader of the village). To do this though he needs to become stronger and so the story begins.
I have never watched the anime as I stated, but my friend has and she said that the game follows each part of the story. Odd scenes are missing, but overall it follows the episodes very well. I won't spoil the story for you though - you'll have to play it to see what happens.
Naruto is a fighting game although there is a little more to it like collecting items and running from place to place as well as talking to people along the way.
This game probably appeals to 3 types of people; the Naruto fans, those who love fighting games and those who love games with a solid storyline. The game is more like playing an interactive anime as you play certain characters and stick to the original storyline. However, it also has many fights in it.
From the main menu you get 3 gameplay options; Ultimate Adventure, Free Battle and Online Battle.
Ultimate Adventure is the story mode. You mainly play as Naruto but you will have control of other characters at times too. The Ultimate Adventure goes through the story. You spend your time finding items, running around and battling.
There are a number of different items. As well as finding them you can also buy them. Some items are needed for missions or found on missions, but the most helpful items are probably those that you use to restore your health as you battle so often and need as much health as possible. Some missions are easier than others, but they all involve collecting items.
You battle many characters and sometimes with very little health. Some characters are easier to beat than others although some become harder than they should be if you don't have much health and don't have the items to restore it before battle. Each battle is graded, but if you don't do well there is no option to redo it which is slightly disappointing.
There are also boss battles. These are pretty much like any other battle except that at times you will get a video sequence in which you must press the buttons it displays on screen at the right time in order to perform certain moves you wouldn't be able to perform normally. This isn't always as easy at it sounds as you have to be fast and it is easy to accidentally press the wrong button and have to start again (if you are at the end of a long sequence it is even more annoying).
The great thing about this game is that there is a massive area to explore rather than being stuck in the village. The bad side to it is that you have to run everywhere and it isn't often that you will jump from one place to another during a cut scene. Usually you are running from one place to another simply because a character said to meet them there and it would be so much better if there was a cut scene and you just appeared there as, apart from maybe a couple of items to pick up, there is nothing to do on the way. There is also a bridge which seems to take forever to run across and it would be so much better if you didn't have to keep running all the way across it.
You can talk to people but mostly they don't say much and the people are mostly in the village not on all the other paths that you find yourself running along.
It has an easy to use menu with 7 main options including items, a map and a tutorial for if you need help.
There are many chapters in this game and each one lasts a long time. It would probably be half the time if it weren't for loading times and running everywhere, but even then they'd be long. Anyone wanting a long, in-depth game will be happy with this as it doesn't rush anything.
You can play multiplayer or practice fights by clicking free battle and for this you have 3 options; 1 player Vs Computer, player 1 Vs player 2 and computer Vs computer. Computer Vs computer seems rather pointless to me, but I guess you can learn what each character can do this way, although personally I prefer to play the game myself to find this out. 1 player Vs Computer and player 1 Vs player 2 both give you two options of either team match or single match.
Single match allows you to play one on one where as team match means you can choose other characters and call them for help when you need them.
You get a choice of 18 different characters to start with, but when you play the story mode you can unlock others. You can play with 42 different characters once you have unlocked them all. Compared with other games where you can fight such as Tekken this is makes a nice change as you often don't get such a wide choice of characters. While you will probably have your favourites to fight with it is always good to have the option of others. My friend also liked making certain characters fight as they fought in the show or they were an interesting pair to fight, but if you don't know anything about the show and just want to fight then who the characters are won't make any difference and it'll be their abilities that matter.
You also get a good choice of places to battle in which Naruto fans will recognise from the show.
1 player Vs Computer allows you to practice against the computer. You can choose from any of the characters available and battle against the computer. These fights are no different to that of the story mode and as you progress in that you learn what the characters can do anyway so practice isn't really needed. Still, if you just want to do a quick battle rather than progress in the game then this is a useful option. You can select to play one on one or as a team which allows you to call other characters to help you.
Player 1 Vs player 2 is obviously the multiplayer option. The only way I think this could be improved would be if you could have up to 4 people playing, especially as you can do team battles. Again you have single match and team battle. Single match allows you to play a friend one on one. Team battle allows you to call other characters and these are controlled by the computer.
Overall these battles are quite fun, but I did find it annoying at times when my friend was able to stop attacks and attack me yet the other way round my character just let the attack happen most of the time and refused to fight back. My friend blamed it on me, but this is something that I've known happen on other fighting games and I was pressing the same buttons at the same time as she had. She did also have the problem at times when battling the computer. This happened with various characters and it seemed that the computer sometimes just decided it wanted you to be attacked. In fact at times the characters would actually stand and wait to be attacked no matter what you did.
Each character has their own special move and it often involved a video sequence. At times these suddenly ended as the attack was somehow avoided, which I don't think is supposed to happen. Mostly once the video had started the attack was going to happen no matter what. Having said that sometimes you'd be heading towards the person in the video then on the actual attack you'd somehow miss them. This was very frustrating as there was no real reason for them to miss and it generally resulted in you getting badly hurt instead as it gives the other person chance to hit you.
In some respects the battle system is good. Fighting is simple and there are a number of moves and each character has their own style and weapons. On the other hand when you start hitting someone it is hard for them to escape sometimes and the first few seconds of the battle often determines who is going to win the match if you get a good few hits. While this isn't really good I can't say the game is bad because of it as it is something I've experienced with other fighting games and it has always been the same. You have to get to know the characters and what they are good at, what each button does and learn to time things right.
There is also an online mode, but I can't comment on this as I never went online, although from what I've read it sounds very much like the two player offline option where you can battle another person.
I don't normally have a section talking about loading times as normally loading times aren't too bad or you expect them to be a little longer as the game has such amazing graphics or a complicated game system (e.g. many characters who act realistically). The more that is going on the longer it is bound to take to load.
Naruto takes a long time to load and it isn't really obvious why. The graphics aren't really detailed and you either have a simple setting and a few characters about to fight or the village where people are standing still. If in the people in the village were all moving and performing takes then it would be more understandable, but they aren't.
Loading times aren't really a big issue to me, but this game did annoy me especially when it got to 98% then just stopped for ages. Even at 100% it took its time to actually start the game or cut scene. If you like quick loading times this game will probably annoy you.
The graphics are just like the anime. They're not visually stunning and in no way realistic, but it would probably ruin the game if they were.
In my opinion the voice acting was fine, but I guess some fans may have a different opinion. We had the English option on, but you can also change the dialogue to Japanese if you want. The audio didn't always fit the characters movements though which annoyed me more than anything. The music is probably fine for anyone who is a fan, but for those who aren't you'll probably find the music rather annoying.
You can get this game new from about £18 off Amazon, but the price does vary a lot from the £18 at Amazon to £35 at play.com. It is also available used and it is worth checking other places to see if you can find it cheaper as, in my opinion, even £18 is a bit much for this game.
This is a game most fans will really like, although even for them they may find it gets a little boring at times when just running from place to place. It is great that is follows the episodes so closely and includes so many characters and areas, but if it could skip some of the times when you are having to run a long way or stupidly short way and go to the next cut scene instead it would make the game much better. Going a long way gives you the opportunity to get extra items usually, but you waste a lot of time just running and often find the items aren't really that useful.
This isn't a bad game, but it's certainly not the best either. It is one for the Naruto fans.