Top positive review
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The best anime based game to date
on 20 October 2010
There is no other way of describing this game other than as simply incredible. I've been a fan of the Ultimate Ninja series for years and loved the first PS3 Storm game to bits but still had a couple of issues with it, namely the lack of online play and how heavily abridged the Naruto storyline was in it. Both these things are addressed in spectacular style with this sequel, and while there has been some scaling back in certain areas, the overall end product is much stronger than it's predecessor taken as a whole and that is a promise.
Putting you once again in the shoes of loudmouth, boiler-suited ninja in training Naruto Uzumaki(And at times other characters), Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 picks up more than two years after the events of Ultimate Ninja Storm 1 and adapts an enormous chunk of the Shippuden storyline as Naruto returns to Konoha village after travelling with master ninja Jiraiya and immediately finds himself faced with two daunting missions in the form of both finally finding his traitorous best friend Sasuke at last and finally going to war with the mysterious Akatsuki organisation, who finally begin their hunt of the "Jinchuriki", those who serve as hosts to the super powerful tailed beasts, and as Naruto himself is host to the Nine Tailed Fox, he's a primary target.
The story presented here is exceptionally strong, presented in multitudes of JRPG style 'exploration' in-game engine cutscenes together with the more detailed and dynamic combat engine charged cutscenes you'll remember from the first game(Complete with Quick Time Events back again), it leaves very little out as the story goes right through the initial Kazekage rescue arc right through to the "Pain" arc that has only just finished in the anime in Japan very recently. This is as current as a Naruto game has ever been, and far more fleshed out than any other Naruto game before it. Though you may lament a couple of omissions from the story, with one major character(Danzo) excised from the story completely, if understandably.
Gameplay outside of battle here is very different from the free roaming Konoha hub world the last game had as events are now presented in a JRPG-esque manner with fixed camera angles and heavy use of prerendered backdrops to give the game a heavy Final Fantasy X look that actually works incredibly well, with a lot of exploration and loot gathering on offer across a large world map that offers a huge amount of side stories and quests in addition to the main story. It may not look as nice as the last game's non combat gameplay, but it offers much much more game as a trade off.
The combat meanwhile is far more frenetic than before, with ultra fast, insanely OTT battles that can move at a blistering pace. There are a lot more characters with a lot more to each of them and a lot more arenas to fight in. The trade off to this though, is that the visuals aren't quite as detailed and sharp as the last game on the whole, with the texture work being noticeably a bit more 'bland' on some characters. However the animation is as fluid and beautiful as before, so it isn't all bad. Characters' "ultimate jutsu" attacks are drastically shortened now, not being the visual in battle cutscenes they were before, which works to not break the flow of combat as much. It plays beautifully, with smooth, responsive controls and large combat arenas that have sadly lost the interactivity of the last game, but you probably won't notice this in all honesty.
Online play is basic in terms of options on offer, but it works, and works well with no noticeable lag I could see and a decent amount of reward/incentive to keep playing, but be warned that some characters seem to be getting heavily abused by online spammers who don't know the meaning of 'playing for fun'.
Graphics, as said, are ultra sharp, super smooth, and incredibly animated and while the texture work in places is a tad off, this is still an incredible looking game.
Soundwise, the soundtrack work is strong as ever, and the Japanese voice acting is exceptional across the board however, the english dubbing is pretty dire on a lot of characters, with some really flat delivery during some emotional scenes. I didn't look at a lot of the game in english, but what I saw was more than enough.
Basically, this is as robust and fleshed out an anime based game as you are ever likely to see, with a lot to see and do(It took me just over 30 hours to do all the story missions and side quests in the main mode), and if you had any love for the first game, the purchase of this game should be a no brainer for you. It's fantastically fun and offers as fast and fun an online experience that I haven't seen an anime game offer before.
It's excellent, but if you aren't a fan, than your mileage may vary.