Jul 25 2008

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Demo Hands-On

Published by at 3:32 pm under Anime,Games,Reviews

Naruto’s latest entry into the next-gen platform blurs the line between gaming and animation so well, you’d think you’re watching the anime itself. With my recent PS3 purchase, I’ve gone and downloaded plenty of demos to test out, one of which was the latest Naruto game, Ultimate Ninja Storm, that was released during E3. From all the screenshots and movies I’ve seen so far, this is probably the most cleanest use of cel-shading graphics I’ve ever seen.

From the moment when the fight begins, you feel immersed in an anime, having full control over all attacks and how you approach your opponent. I haven’t played many fighting games recently, but I enjoy the free-roaming aspect of the game, as opposed to the side-movement-plus-side-step system employed by others. Also, while there is some button-mashing fury to be had during the battle, the real “meat” in the game is being able to pull off the more elaborate moves. All the basic ninja moves are there – tossing Shurikens, doing a ninja dash, and performing ninjutsu – and all are complimented with rewarding and entertaining visuals.

What really sells me in the demo, though, are the stylish graphics and the way they’re integrated into the gameplay. Never do you really feel that the graphics are upstaging the fight – it really just compliments the battle as it occurs. From the random extreme-closeup-face-shot when you throw a right hook, complete with speed lines in the back, to the more elaborate powerhouse moves that require quickly-timed key button presses to execute. Even the camera doesn’t squarely focus on the character during the fight – it focuses on the battle arena itself, making it more like you’re the spectator viewing the battle instead of controlling it.

In the end, if you’re a huge fan of the Naruto anime, you’ll find this game to be a welcome addition to your PS3 library. CyberConnect is fast becoming a company favorite of mine, right along side Atlus and NIS in terms of delivering to their fans. The demo even allows selection of either English or Japanese voice acting. When any company includes that option, I’m already half sold on their dedication.

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