Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations preview

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations (UNSG) is the third game in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series following the adventures of the yellow haired excitable boy ninja.

Generations spans from the start of the Naruto story right into the latter Shippuden series when the characters are a lot more grown up. The game has a lot more characters to choose from because of this, as it has essentially merged UNS1 & 2 into one game with a more up to date story – it is impossible for the game to have the complete story as the manga hasn’t actually finished yet.

The story in UNSG is told in-game with voiceovers and screens from the anime. I found this to be a little disappointing as Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 had a brilliant story mode with cutscenes, boss battles and free roam gameplay. The story mode in UNSG does do the job of telling the story, but I don’t see it being played once the need to unlock characters at the beginning of the game has been fulfilled.

The gameplay itself in UNSG is almost identical to that of Ultimate Ninja Storm 1 and 2. Very small changes have been made in the two years since the last game’s release; however the differences, whilst small, have a large effect on battles and manage to fix the main problem that the previous titles had.

In Ultimate Ninja Storm 1 and 2, most of the time gameplay simply degenerated into either mashing the attack button or the block button to teleport depending on which side of a beat down you were on. This led to boring fights for the most part as any depth and tactics that may have existed were completely thrown out of the window for simple, brain-dead gameplay. Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations introduces a substitution jutsu bar that limits the amount of times you can teleport to dodge attacks in quick succession. Every time you perform a substitution jutsu (the teleport used to avoid attacks), the bar goes down and you must wait for it to refill before performing the technique again. In my experience with the game, this meant that fights no longer degenerated into constantly mashing one of two buttons, and the monotony was removed from the game making it a lot more enjoyable to play.

As well as the substitution jutsu bar, I noticed that guard breaking has been introduced to the game too. It is now not even possible to simply hold the block button whilst you calmly wait for your opponent to finish their combo on you. A blue flash will show when your opponent hits your block initially, and this will gradually change to red until you are stunned, giving your opponent a free combo. These two simple additions means that NS:UNSG requires a lot more thought to play than its predecessors and is a lot more fun because of it.

Aside from the technical stuff, this looks as beautiful as ever with its cel shaded graphics and flashy combos. The game feels fluid and it’s genuinely satisfying to land a combo on your opponent. All characters have animations taken directly from the series, and so much attention to detail has been paid to each individual that even a simple punch or kick will not look the same for two different characters. Jutsus (special attacks), team attacks and ougis (transformations) all work in exactly the same way as before, and when utilized together lead to devastating damage outputs – especially ougis which are usually game changing when activated and look awesome to boot.

I wasn’t able to play online when previewing the game so I can’t comment on lag, although if UNSG is anything like its predecessor, the connections should be brilliant as this was one of the game’s strong points.

Overall the game feels like a solid addition to the Ultimate Ninja Storm series and a step up from its predecessors.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is released onto the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in Europe on the 30th of March.

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