Storm 3 tries to please both casual and hardcore fans, but only by digging deep will you find an unforgettable game.
The story returns to the epicness seen in Storm 2, wasting no time by putting you in a boss fight when the Nine Tails invades Konoha. Without providing spoilers, the story begins with the Nine Tails invasion, and continues with the Five Kage Summit Arc, Confining the Jinchuuriki Arc, and the Fourth Shinobi World War Arc (Part 1). The resemblance to Storm 2's story is too obvious, but what is different is the inclusion of Ultimate Decision: a choice given to the character that allows them to change the difficulty, without majorly affecting the outcome, and addition of mob battles: mini hack-and-slash segments that do break up free-roam, but do not occur frequent enough.
The story is the main emphasis of this franchise, but it would not be enough without good gameplay. The roster consists of many familiar faces of past Storm characters with tweaks, and 13 new characters. The roster comes to over 80 characters, the most in any one Naruto game. This time, supports are given more roles, making for some intense, but relatively simple battles. New additions include coordinated attacks, where you hold down circle and lunge towards your opponent, from there, if your support gauge is full, then you can call them in for an extra hit; support types are now given their own life bars, so support can take damage now. This means that people who hide behind their supports too much will be left to fight on their own. The biggest inclusion to the fighting system is Instant Awakenings. Certain characters can awaken with the flick of the right stick and you can turn it off at will. However, the drawback is that while you are awakened, you whole entire chakra bar drains, so you have to be careful while using it. Single battles are used to see how good you are with certain characters, but with the large roster, team battles are where this game really shines. Being able to mix and match characters and set preset teams before battle allows you to create extremely unique teams. Online wise, it is the same as Generations with a few tweaks. The net code has improved, but replays have been taken out, and there is an option to search for sessions without setting conditions. Multiplayer is the main reason why people play fighting games, and this game does not disappoint.
No game is perfect, and this game is not either. In the story, some of the boss fights can drag on for far too long, and there is even LAG during the boss fights. The game is set at 60 FPS, but the frame rate drops randomly and makes already difficult battles frustrating. Most of the story is told through cutscenes, and they are extremely long; you are given the option to skip most (but not all) of them, but the story isn't really good without them. The last bad side I'm going to mention about the game is the occasional glitches. If you have played Generations before, you will find the same exploits and glitches in the game, along with a freezing glitch mid-battle, and a support bug. If you have played any of the previous Storm games, your save data can be used when you first boot the game to unlock special content day 1. The issue is that doing this prevents you from unlocking additonal support types for certain characters.
I want to keep my nitpicking and bad facts about the game separate, so you don't get the wrong impression of the game. This game holds true to the concept "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", but the problem is that most of the game has been recycled too much. The roster consists mainly of characters from the previous Storm games, but the problem is that they have the same movesets, same awakenings, and same outfits. The Konoha 11 are given war outfits, and those who purchase the game new get a Goku outfit for Naruto, but the costume doesn't really change anything. I was hooked on this game for the first week or two, but when you run out of things to do, you have to squeeze the fun out of the game.
This game has several flaws, but nothing game breaking. Was I a little disappointed with the game? Yes. Do I think it is a terrible game and you should avoid it at all costs? No, and that depends on who you are. If you don't know what a Nine Tails is, then don't even bother trying to play this one before the previous games, because aside from story and fan service, there is not much as a fighter this game will offer you. If you are familiar with Naruto, then rent it, it may or may not please you depending on what you are looking for. However, for those who are dedicated fans to the long-running manga/anime series, then you will find plenty to do in this game. With extras like Ninja Info Cards, Ultimate Jutsu viewer, music, and character quotes, you have incentive for trying to unlock everything. Although the gameplay itself is relatively easy to get into, playing with a friend of two really brings out the game's true colors. Despite its flaws, it is easily the best Storm game of the trilogy (not counting Generations). If you can put forth the time and go into this with an open mind, you will find an incredibly engaging experience, and will entertain you for a long time to come. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some unfinished business with Madara.