Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Preview

At the MCM Expo in London, I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with Hiroshi Matsuyama, the President and CEO of CyberConnect2, and got a sneak peak at the upcoming entry to the Naruto video game series, Naruto Ultimate: Ninja Storm 3. First, I was shown the game’s newest trailer, which showed off the game’s in engine visuals and gives a taste for the game’s story. If you are not up to date on the Naruto anime series, beware spoilers in the following paragraph.

The trailer showed several key moments from the Naruto anime which will appear in the game, both in cutscenes and in controllable battles. The trailer began with the battle between Naruto and Sasuke in Shippuden in which Naruto talks about how easily their roles could have been reversed. I saw sections of this fight playable but it was unclear which character you’d be controlling. I next saw Naruto battling the Nine Tails, in order to prove his worth and access it’s Chakra. The battle was also playable from Naruto’s perspective. Lastly I saw Sasuke battling Garra, which was followed by some scenes in which Kabuto and Tobi discuss the upcoming 4th Ninja War. The game is set to closely follow the series from Naruto and Sasuke’s fight, up to a point very close to where the anime is currently up to (no specifics were given as to when in the story this would be).

I was then shown the game’s various pre-order and special edition bundles. As well as the regular edition, which is coming to the UK in March 2013, people who buy the game on day one will receive a couple of rewards. They will receive a code for a piece of costume DLC which allows Naruto to dress as Goku from Dragonball Z (complete with a Rasengan that looks suspiciously like a Kamehameha), and a limited edition Goku Naruto trading card. Anyone who pre-orders the game will get access to another five DLC costumes for Naruto, including a set of samurai armour, and those who pre-order from select retailers will also receive a limited edition art book.

The game will also be available in two limited edition versions, titled the Will of Fire edition and the True Despair edition. The Will of Fire edition comes with a Naruto statue, an exclusive Naruto centric poster, an original soundtrack and the day one Goku DLC and trading card. The True Despair edition swaps out the Naruto statue and poster for a Sasuke Statue and a poster geared to him and his allies.

I was then able to go through a couple of the game’s boss battles, which were centred around key battles from the anime. The first battle saw the player take on the role of Guy Sensai battling six of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen (Zabuza was absent due to battling Kakashi separately). The game allows you to either play the battle in hero mode, in which you fight two of the swordsmen at a time, or warrior mode, where you battle all six at once. All boss battles will have the option of Hero and Warrior mode, with Hero mode generally being the easier of the two paths. Each time one of the swordsmen is running low enough on health, you can trigger a cutscene to finish them with a more powerful move.

The next battle I was shown was the fight between Kakashi and Zabuza, who has been reanimated three years after his original defeat. The battle had a very sombre tone, particularly helped by its quiet and melodic piano soundtrack. When you get his health low enough it triggers a QTE (quick time event) cutscene which replicates a key moment from their fight in the anime. The battle then seamlessly blended into a sepia toned rendition of their fight three years ago, which you continue to fight through. Switching back and forth between the two battles happened very naturally and mixed up the feel of the fight considerably.

A feature of the boss battles called Secret Factor was also shown. By using moves that were used in these fights in the anime, you can trigger cutscenes that replicate what happened in the anime when that move was used, meaning that fans of the anime may have an upper hand during the boss battles.

The game can be played in either Japanese or English, both in audio and text, which will be a big relief to long time fans of the series. The battles also seemed considerably faster paced than in previous games, and the animations were considerably more fluid.

What do you think? Are you excited for the new game? Have you played any of the previous games? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to check back later this week for an exclusive interview with Hiroshi Matsuyama.

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