Admittedly, unless you’re a fan of the engrossing and overly stereotypical manga you may very well overlook Cyberconnect 2’s foray into the fighting franchise. Yet what’s surprising and almost quaint within Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja: Storm 2, is an enjoyable experience for anyone that wants to play: be it fans of the series or someone (like me) that has no idea what a “Shippuden” is.
Throwing you right into the mix of things, the game bolsters an impressive (if not unbalanced) 40+ character roster, which you unlock through linear campaign play. Potentially one of the biggest faults in the game, you go through each stage only to come out, perhaps buy a few new items or a tiny side-mission… then right back into battle and story. The story is pretty faithful to the story, but it was obvious that Cyberconnect 2 was more confident in their fight prowess than they were in storytelling.
As they should be, because in one respect it’s a fantastic and delightful system, while in another it’s hollow and could never stack up to other games like Street Fighter or King of Fighters. Taking only one button for melee attacks, the majority of your decisions are decided by rapidly slamming down that one button while trying to teleport away from the enemy to charge your chakra (magic). This tactic is crucial to both control the rhythm of the battle, and to get your stamina and energy up.
Because that fancy chakra is the essential Holy Grail of the battle, allowing you to get additional speed boosts to use that expansive battlefield to get away from the attacker, put a little extra in a projectile throw, or to put a special attack in right after you teleport in right behind your opponent, all of it is pitted right on how you handle your go-juice. The issue is that you have to stand completely still to charge your abilities, which in this game is a testament to pure will.
While you’re deciding on when you strike and when to bow out to try and charge that Duracell, those are the moments that you realize that this game actually looks good. The cel-shading makes everything just flow together in a blur of tightly constrained colors and designs, letting you feel like you are both in the game and in the anime/manga. Add a second person in on both side of the fight, and suddenly the game just bleeds with a lack of realism and probability, which is perfect for both the game play, the visuals, and the ridiculous storyline.
It’s a shame that these kinds of things don’t exactly follow, as you travel online and try to fight your way through the brackets. A severe lack of a standing lobby makes it hard to find a playable battle, and with a stacked lag and no server space (even with the few thousand that are playing) that speed and fluidity that you found by yourself gets choppy and muddled.
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja: Storm 2 is obviously not for everyone… it’s barely for me. Yet if you can close your eyes while you pick it up, pretend that it’s something else and actually give it it’s five minutes… you may find something that you can fully get behind. Given a more comfortable multiplayer and a little more breathing room with the Story Mode, and this could have been something you could take right to your Fox Demon as an offering, and not been afraid that he would eat you.
ZoKnowsGaming gives Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja: Storm 2 a 7 out of 10.