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Review

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: March 7, 2013
  • X360

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 retains the series' impressive visuals and its accessible combat, but gets bogged down by its focus on storytelling.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is a game that knows its audience. Picking up where its predecessor left off, it tells the ongoing tale of young ninja Naruto Uzumaki's struggles as the Nine-Tails' jinchuriki and his complex relationship with Sasuke Uchiha. It also covers the five kage summit and the outbreak of the fourth great ninja war.

If none of this means anything to you, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is not the game for you. It spends tremendous amounts of time on storytelling, and there are so many characters, factions, rivalries, chakras, jutsus, and other aspects of Naruto history and lore at play that unless you have a working familiarity with all this stuff ahead of time, you're going to be completely lost. The series hasn't lost its knack for eye-popping boss battles and amazing ninja powers. But even diehard Naruto fans will find that this latest entry fumbles the pacing in its single-player Ultimate Adventure mode by spending far too much time hitting you with conversations and cutscenes and not nearly enough time letting you meaningfully participate in the story.

Of course, you can always skip the story sequences and get right to the next gameplay section, but the story is such a focus here that if you don't have an interest in watching this game unfold its tale, then there's little point in playing the game at all. Well over half of the time it takes to get through the single-player campaign is taken up by cutscenes and chitchat. You often watch several minutes of cutscenes, take control of a character to move him or her through an environment, maybe stopping to talk to other characters now and then, and then watch several more minutes of cutscenes. Sometimes, those cutscenes are action-packed and entertaining, but there are also lots of long expository sequences in which characters just stand around calmly talking to each other. Yes, there are intense battles from time to time, but there aren't nearly enough of these to support the bloated narrative.

When you do have to fight, you find that you can easily pull off incredible-looking techniques regardless of which character you happen to be controlling at that moment. There are dozens of playable characters in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, but they all do attacks, build up chakra, and perform combos with the same button presses and combinations. This is a pick-up-and-play game: all accessibility, little depth. It's more about spectacle than skill, though the speed at which it moves means it does reward rapid reflexes, and it's exhilarating for a while to perform massively powerful, terrific-looking jutsu attacks with a few quick and easy button presses.

Characters in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 rarely stop talking, even when they're fighting.

But there aren't tricky combos and high-level techniques to master; once you've got a handle on the basics, you can get better at implementing those techniques, but you aren't going to experience the gratification that comes with mastering higher-level skills, because there aren't any. The result is an experience that's immediately enjoyable, but doesn't stay rewarding for long. You may have a particular interest in playing as Deidara or Orochimaru or some other character, but because they all play so similarly, the unlocked characters you're frequently showered with as you progress through the Ultimate Adventure mode don't give you access to new strategies and new ways to play.

During specific fights, the free-flowing combat gets replaced by visually spectacular quick-time events that fully capture the kinetic energy of the anime's over-the-top battles. Whether it's a scene in which Naruto and Sasuke fight it out on the surface of a lake as a previous encounter comes flooding back to them or a sequence in which the massive, fearsome beast Nine-Tails threatens to destroy Hidden Leaf Village, these sections make for incredible viewing. These encounters and others present you with a choice of taking the legend approach or the hero approach. Your choice has a typically minor effect on how the battle plays out, and no effect on how the rest of the story plays out. It also determines whether you earn more hero experience or more legend experience, each of which gives you access to different types of items to use in battle. This does provide an incentive to return to earlier battles and choose the alternate approach just to see what impact it has, but that impact is usually disappointingly minor.

Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 also introduces mob battles in which you take on numerous easy, incapable enemies at once. They're mechanically dull, but moves that let you leap instantly from one enemy to another give these battles a visual energy, at least on the PlayStation 3. On the Xbox 360, these battles are interrupted by severe hang-ups that not only break up the flow of battle but can also result in the game failing to recognize your button inputs. The PS3 version doesn't suffer from this problem, but on both consoles, load times are frequent and long.

The cutscenes in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 look fantastic.

Outside of the single-player campaign, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 lets you mix it up with other players locally and online. The online play functions well and allows you to jump into ranked or unranked matches and to set up tournaments for up to eight players. As with story battles, the accessibility and the impressive visuals make fighting against other players enjoyable from the get-go, but the simplicity of the action prevents it from holding your interest for long. The fighting system doesn't allow for much of a nuanced, tactical approach, and so your online opponents tend to spam the same few powerful attacks over and over again. It becomes routine and predictable quickly, and the prospect of unlocking more titles and images for your ninja info card (a profile that is made visible to and traded with your opponents) isn't a compelling reason to soldier on. This game is only for those who care to see Naruto's story continue to play out, and though it has its moments, it doesn't deliver quite the level of excitement you'd hope for from a game bearing the Naruto Shippuden name.

The Good
Battles look fantastic
Excitingly staged quick-time events
Easy to pick up and play
The Bad
Too many long, dull stretches of storytelling
Combat lacks depth
Long, frequent load times
Hitches up significantly during certain battles
5.5
Mediocre
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Discussion

64 comments
OrdannonsX
OrdannonsX

I actually fully agree with this review. The way in which you play through the story bugged the heck out of me. The main storyline takes about 7 hours to complete, while 4-5 hours of it you'll be watching cutscenes. I actually clocked most of the cutscene between Kushina and Minato bearing baby Naruto, Naruto getting stolen by Madara, and then Madara attacking the Leaf Village and Minato facing off against him and the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox... that entire cutscene lasted 30 minutes, plus the 5 minutes or so I didn't clock. The remaining 2 hours during the storyline in which you actually get to DO anything, you'll be running from one small area to the next, until you get thrown into a fight in which the characters blabber about something you won't really listen to because you're busy mashing buttons, or you'll be thrown into another cutscene. It's terrible.


But, once you sit through the main storyline, the game finally actually becomes a little enjoyable. You can run through the Ninja world at your own pace, complete with sidequests etc.


Anyway, nice review, Carolyn. Completely agree with you.

estebanfunkjr
estebanfunkjr

All i see in this persons reviews is nitpicks. Nitpicks here nitpicks there nitpicks everywhere. I have the demo for this game and i liked it alot (love is too strong a word to use here) Did i mention that she looks like a dude?

dragonbornruler
dragonbornruler

Awesome! I just got some Microsoft Points for free from freemspointsforever com

lukemckim
lukemckim

I frequently wind up loving the games this reviewer hates and am often disappointed with the games she praises, so I'm excited to see that she gave this one a low score

Hollow-Byakuya
Hollow-Byakuya

They send the same close-minded scrub to review every Naruto game, most of her yammering points to the fact that she doesnt like the genre in general and should do one back to humping whichever mainstream shooter everyone else is riding. Im a fan, this game is the best release to date and I thoroughly enjoy playing it, the people agreeing with her wont bother me in multiplayer, and Im fine with that.

Aokaminariki
Aokaminariki

Well, as far as the issue with the 360 goes, I didn't notice it, it works fine for me. But this score was pretty accurate for the most part, and I am a die hard Naruto fan. CC2 just keeps disappointing its fans, they asked for our suggestions, but they won't use them, I don't get it. The only additions of theirs that I actually liked were the Substitution bar, Instant Awakening, Mob battles, Ultimate Justu end cut scenes (before the kill) and the extra Awakening abilities of certain characters. But what's the point of adding all of this stuff if they go and remove it from the next game? Why did they remove some characters from generations, they should be trying to go in the same direction as Budokai Tenkaichi 3 from DBZ. Gain every character they can get, they are backwards. I also didn't notice too much of a difference between those characters with two slots (ex: Killer Bee). But the boss battles were epic, I loved those. And I actually think that the Naruto/Minato/Kushina story had more heart here in Storm 3 than the anime or manga, just my personal opinion.

Omegatron45
Omegatron45

I'm a hardcore Naruto fan but even I know that too much storytelling and not enough game play is a bad recipe for any game. I wanna play a video game not watch a movie.

Critical_man
Critical_man

It could have a 7.0 or a 6.5 but is fine i was disappointed with the full character selection, because i was waiting for all the Kages to be here, and actually they all appears in the history mode, so why the hell we have to wait until another game release?? Is not fair

bored_gamer
bored_gamer

One thing I will agree on is that the cutscenes are unbelievably long 

dj-armeliaz
dj-armeliaz

Unlike in Ninja Storm 2, every character movement here feels like there's some invisible force that sticks you to the ground. In Ninja Storm 2 you could actually feel the speed of combat and try thinking/trying multiple strategies at once.

Kaeban
Kaeban

" Combat lacks depth" ...why am i not surprised??? It´s been like that since the old naruto games. Combat= pushing 2 or 3 buttons and attack with justsus or one button "combos" only. The worst part is that the game looks FANTASTIC, they all look great. If they focused a little more in combat mechanics, it would be perfect. Don´t get me wrong, I love the series and the game looks terrific, but looking good is not enough...not at all.

Chernobyl_style
Chernobyl_style

naruto world is cool, but the game is very simple and poor.

how many games with the same engine?


im still waiting a good naruto and dbz game

usule
usule

Funny to see the contrast between European and American reviews of the game... Anyway, 5.5 is too harsh, this review is mediocre. 

Dreamagus
Dreamagus

I believe Naruto is still the only product in which the video game adaptation tells the story better than its source material...

JTKenyon654
JTKenyon654

Really don't care about this review, I absolutely love this game

OurSin-360
OurSin-360

The anime/manga itself hasn't been any good since the pain saga ended. Terrible pace and writing, not surprised it's reflected in the newer games.

grin89
grin89

i wish there were better English voice actors in this world. also wish i was smart enough to learn Japanese. or the resolve to even attempt to learn.

TenraiSenshi
TenraiSenshi

User scores are insanely biased. People will trash a game like DMC just because Dante looks different even if the game itself is decent (surely it didn't deserve all those 0's in the user scores), but they'll praise another game just because they're fans of the subject matter.

It just goes to show you how crazy the world is and how irrational people are.

Chatch09
Chatch09

I believe this to be a heavily bias review. These games are pretty much interactive animes that are actually done really well, but others who may have never watched Naruto are probably going to be 'turned-off' to the game because of reviews like this.

fancypantsguy
fancypantsguy

gamespot has looked at the game from a hardcore gamer point of view. that way it is mediocre but this game is made for the hardcore naruto fans. it's like those movies which never make it to the oscars and get bad reviews, they are just made for fun


OrdannonsX
OrdannonsX

@estebanfunkjr  Way to make remarks about the way she looks just because you disliked her review while you've never played the actual game.

majoras_wrath
majoras_wrath

@TaranIsAllUpIns "On the Xbox 360, these battles are interrupted by severe hang-ups that not only break up the flow of battle but can also result in the game failing to recognize your button inputs"


Reading is haaaaard...

Kaz32
Kaz32

@Chernobyl_style The game's actually pretty good. It's not like COD with the same engine every single goddamn time. It changes with a few adjustments so combat is more smooth. Problem is the amount of cutscenes in the game. But If you already read the manga till the recent chapter, you can just skip them on the spot.

Critical_man
Critical_man

@usule Actually i play the game and this review is fine, the story mode is booooooring as hell, to long and the character selection is crap, they slap you in the face putting characters like Kinkaku and hes brother anthe other Kages, but nonce of them is actually a playable character so this game for me is a trash, i prefer wait until another one brings the true character selection we want

cany1979
cany1979

@usule u re right usule, I always come to gamespot to see the rate of game but this time I'm really surprised by this 5.5!

In France, the game is very well rated! even by independant reviewer...

JTKenyon654
JTKenyon654

@Dreamagus Not at all, the games streamline most of it, only leaving the most action packed sequences for the games. The manga/anime has much more story and they do it much better.

Kaz32
Kaz32

Walking Dead?

chipwithdip
chipwithdip

@grin89 Well, the VAs are the same ones from earlier. The problem is that the lines suck for no reason. "Come here, lil Ramen"? Who would sound good saying something so stupid in an anime voice? I give them props just for slaving through that hell hole CC2 called dialogue.


That, and the English VAs did somehow miss the mark this time. I swear they sounded 70% better in the older games...

Drilbit777
Drilbit777

@grin89 There are good english voice actors, for exaple like Yuri Lowenthal, Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, Steven Blum, Johnny Yong Bosch, Crispin Freeman, and Vic Mignogna just to name a few.

cavs25
cavs25

@TenraiSenshi Critic reviews are basically user reviews: every bit as biased.  I trust the fans of a subject more than those who aren't

Is like someone who has never seen a baseball game reviewing MLB 13 the show

is stupid.

GreG975
GreG975

@JBob_kane17 I'd say it's just the opposite, the "user review" section will have hell of a lot of reviews coming from Naruto Fanboys/Fangirls won't can't stay objective, they'll just naively give 9's or even 10's as if this game's flawless. Gamespot's review is great because it was unbiased. As "JustPlainLucas" previously said, UNS3 was considered as a game, not as a "fan service medium".

Ragnarok-64
Ragnarok-64

@JBob_kane17 I agree, I never watched a Naruto series in my life but I played Naruto Storm 2 and I absolutely loved every bit of it! I would give it a 8.5.
I am so excited for this game that I'm ignoring any reviews regarding it really.

AlexFili
AlexFili

@Chatch09 Well there's always metacritic and user reviews for a better opinion

Gamer3344
Gamer3344

@fancypantsguy In other words they are made to suck out money from fantards.

Maxmus050
Maxmus050

@Kaz32 @Chernobyl_style This is a joke right? Every naruto game looks the same as a outsider I just cant tell the difference between the games.

cany1979
cany1979

@Critical_man @usule I've finaly done this game, and finaly, I'm agree with the gamespot review, more than most of review you can find, especially in france, where this game received awesome rating.

I hate this type of game, actually like a asuras wrath... I don't need a game that tell me the story as if I was reading the book of naruto, I'd rather a game where I feel to be Naruto and Cie, finally I prefered the first Naruto generations! 

The battles were worse, but the adventures was 1000 times better, even if it was really perfectible...

Dreamagus
Dreamagus

@Kaz32 I never read the comics, so I really can't judge...

Infinite_713
Infinite_713

@GreG975 @JBob_kane17 Agreed 100%. I refuse to listen to the User reviews because anime/manga based games have die hard fanboys who will easily give the game a ridiculously high score simply because they love the series.

GreG975
GreG975

@AlexFili @Chatch09 Just because the user review section has a higher score, it doesn't mean that it's "better". It's interesting how you call reviews "better" because they fit into your opinion of a game.

fancypantsguy
fancypantsguy

@JustPlainLucas @fancypantsguy  im not saying what they wrote is wrong its just that no matter how many bad reviews it gets its still going to be a success and spawn many sequels 

i have played the story mode of the game it is full of cutscenes and is very slow but my friend who is a naruto fan somehow loved it

Maxmus050
Maxmus050

@Kaz32 @Maxmus050 Oh ye I belive you that they have added new modes and got the story mode smoother and such.
But what i mean is that I couldn't tell any difference between playing this game and Naruto storm generations in the versus mode. 

Almost same graphics, atmosphere and such so it doesn't felt like a new game but just some big DLC.
Guess there is enough differnce for a hardcore fan but if you let some other gamer who isn't known well with the anime he couldn't notice many difference in both the games.

Kaz32
Kaz32

@Maxmus050 It's different than the previous ones. For once the game has way too many cutscenes. But that's not bad compared to the comic books where 1 battle takes 80 pages. Besides they're skipable on the go so no need to watch them if you have seen the entire story.

 There's 2 modes, beat em up mode and fighting mode, both with the ability to use items mid battle unlike the ones before. And the battle now is much smoother. Just look at the playthrough. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvFhMaWa7_A

That's why as an outsider, don't talk if you know nothing.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 More Info

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  • First Released
    • PS3
    • Xbox 360
    Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 lets players fight as their favorite characters from the Naruto series and features the return of massive scale boss battles, including a fearsome confrontation with the gargantuan Nine-Tails.
    8.3
    Average User RatingOut of 295 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3
    Developed by:
    CyberConnect2
    Published by:
    Bandai Namco Games, Namco Bandai Games
    Genres:
    Fighting, 3D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Violence