The best way to describe the gameplay of Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is that it is varied; you've got a lot of gathering to do, in the midst of exploring the Naruto universe and occasionally you have to fight. It's a simplistic set up but it gets the job done. If anything it actually expands the gameplay a bit further than it really need to be, and not in a good way. Most people playing these games aren't looking to hunt for materials to make ninja weapons, they'd rather be fighting. And to their credit Cyber Connect 2 has offered up an online option or a free match option that allows you to recreate your ninja dream match. Though if you want to unlock all the characters then you'll be forced to play through the storyline, which will run you about 20 hours.
Getting in to the actual meat and potatoes of this game, combat plays just like previous Naruto titles, which is a little awkward for a two player game since the camera placement isn't like traditional 3D fighting games. Considering the fast paced nature of this game though it feels appropriate, it just takes some getting used to. Once you do though the fighting is a ton of fun, with matches taking place in a variety of locales that match the show quite well. Physical attacks are mapped to the B button with modifiers to the combos being dependent on where you move the analog stick. If you want to play the ranged game there are plenty of shuriken and ninja tools to go around that will make getting in close to you a chore. Cyber Connect 2 also saw it absolutely vital to keep each characters signature moves, and with a quick burst of chakra they are available, and can be quite devastating. There are also a number of evasion techniques available, from using chakra to dash away to being able to evade enemy attacks with a quick press of the Right Trigger when attacked (side note, I wish they had a meter for how often you could fully evade an enemy attack as a number of matches just felt like a match of who had turbo mapped to their right trigger). There are also support characters who can get in to the mix and offer a variety of attacks to get you out of a jam or help you put down your opponent quite quickly. Though it's a bit disappointing to see that some of the later character unlocks are quite top tier versus the opening cast. This made fighting online a bit more difficult than it really should have been, with higher level players sticking to a set group of people. Thankfully the game offers options to search for players close to your skill level, otherwise I would have gone back to Street Fighter in a hurry.
Cyber Connect 2 also did a great job of keeping these fights from getting stale by making some of the more important matches a much more cinematic experience, adding a quick time event style mechanic that does a great job of replicating the show. The only weak side to this is if you fail one string of event then the whole event is failed, rather than stumbling through the fight. Thankfully the developer didn't want to punish the player too much so you'll simply have to try again from the failed event. It's been seen many a time before where failing a quick time event takes you back to the beginning of a really long string of events that only serve to frustrate the player, so it's greatly appreciated here. There are some fights that a quite out there too, where gameplay takes on a completely different style. One fight feels like a Panzer Dragoon on-rails shooter, while another feels like a third person shooter. This variety really helped out the game and it's great to see that the developer didn't just rest on having each battle be a straight up fight.
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