I'm not the biggest fan of the Naruto anime, but I'll be damned if they haven't created some fun games from the series that do a great job of making you feel like a bad-ass ninja. I was always on the fence about the titles that focused more on attempting to make a fighting game out of the series, preferring the open world style. It looks like Namco Bandai was thinking of me when they created Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. Now while I might not understand what that title entails just from reading it, but after playing the game I can say they captured the spirit and the essence of the anime quite well. From the epic battles between Naruto and Sasuke to the incredibly well represented characters; developer Cyber Connect 2 seems to have nailed the Naruto experience. Anyone who likes fun would do well to check out this game.
First I've got to say that this game looks so much like the anime it's almost eerie. The cel-shading techniques at times have this game looking like I was watching the show, which is no small feat in my eyes. Each character looks and acts the part, from their designs to mannerisms and even facial expressions, all are captured flawlessly in this game. From Naruto to Neji, Sakura to Sasuke, and even Choji look fantastic with this game's graphic styling. You're really in for a treat during the cinematic battles as they'll show just how much Cyber Connect 2 understands the Naruto world. The cel-shading against hand drawn backdrops work quite well and really help sell the strolls I take through the Hidden Leaf village. The sound team should also be commended with matching the shows aesthetics, the music and sound effects are spot on, and the voice acting is great in either English or Japanese. This game really cannot disappoint from an audio/visual standpoint.
One thing that I enjoy about the Naruto games is that they are like a Cliffs Notes version of the show, packing in all the action without nearly as much of the fluff. I can get the entire Shippuden story arc in just one game. For example, the first two chapters of the game actually cover over fifty episodes. To take the time to watch that would far exceed what I have available these days, so I can really appreciate the condensed package that Namco Bandai offers, not to mention that if you just wanted the story, buying the game would save over purchasing individual DVDs. It's not as though they skimp on content, they just have it really well trimmed. You'll still see the story from different points of view while getting the main bits. I don't think I really need to get in to the Naruto story if you're reading this review, but just know that it matches the show quite faithfully, with all the important battles and story arcs intact. You'll be rescuing Gaara, fighting Orochimaru, and even taking on the Akatsuki group all in this tight little package. There are also quite a few references to the original Naruto series that serve as bonus fan service, if you are skilled enough to reach them.
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