Nartuo Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution review for PS3, Xbox 360

Platform: PS3
Also On: Xbox 360
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: CyberConnect2
Medium: Blu-ray
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution is a spin-off of sorts for the fighting game series, featuring some of the traditional 1 vs. 1 combat of the Ultimate Ninja Storm franchise along with some new ideas. However, those new ideas aren?t that great, and I found myself wishing this was a more direct sequel and less experimental. One of the aspects in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series that I?ve loved, found in most of the CyberConnect2 developed Naruto titles, is the insane, over the top battles featured. But that aspect is mostly missing in Revolution, in favor of some sub-par, 4 character free-for-all battles structured around the Ninja World Tournament.

The Ninja World Tournament mode contains a number of rankings to work your way through, with preliminary, semi-final, and finals for each rank. You can construct a team of three characters, and each character partakes in a free-for-all battle against three other A.I. controlled opponents. Instead of featuring standard health bars to deplete, each character starts with 1000 orbs, which in turn get knocked out of them when they are successfully hit. Other characters can collect these orbs by running over them, and the player with the most orbs when the match timer runs out wins. There?s very little difficulty in winning these matches, even if the A.I. in later games has a tendency to team-up on characters with the most orbs. A.I. can be laughably bad here too, and it?s not uncommon to see computer controlled characters standing around doing nothing for large chunks of time.

naruto uns revolution 001The four character free-for-all?s strip away the Ultimate Jutsu attacks, which are part of that spectacle I mentioned earlier. They also simplify your standard Jutsu specials, like Naruto?s Rasengan, taking away the cinematic flair found in 1 vs. 1 fights when the attacks are used. It becomes more efficient to just string together simple attack combinations, especially since the opposing A.I. has a tendency to interrupt most special attacks. All in all, it?s just a really bland style of gameplay, but unfortunately the Ninja World Tournament mode is where the majority of Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution?s gameplay resides. It?s also where you?ll uncover the new Mecha Naruto storyline, which does thankfully feature some one-on-one battles, but again it mixes in the free-for-all fights too. Ultimately, I found both modes to be a bit boring, not something I?d expect out of a CyberConnect2 title.

naruto uns revolution 004Of course, if you?d prefer to experience a more standard Ultimate Ninja Storm style of gameplay, you can check out the free play exhibition mode. This will allow you to have 1 vs. 1 battles against any unlocked characters. The roster here is massive, which comes as no surprise considering the size of the roster in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. There?s well over 100 characters, along with a dozen or so support characters. Basically, if you have a favorite from the anime, that person is likely to be featured here. Still, exhibition is no replacement for the more bombastic elements in previous Ultimate Ninja Storm story mode entries, but at least it features the tried and true gameplay elements that are more familiar to fans of the series. Likewise, online mode acts in a similar fashion, but balancing issues still abound, meaning that it can be tough to compete unless you?re willing to use the more ?cheap? style characters against real-life players.

naruto uns revolution 002While Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution does feature a story mode in the form of Ninja Escapades, it?s remarkably short and lackluster. Ninja Escapades is broken up into three different tales, each focusing on untold elements of character history, like the Uchiha clan and the formation of the Akatsuki. It?s cool to get a glimpse at some elements of character history, but you?re watching more than playing here, with just a handful of fights between the three tales to participate in. It?ll only take a couple of hours at most to make your way through all three stories, with the last story featured devoid of any playable fights.

I can?t mask my disappointment with this entry in the Ultimate Ninja Storm franchise, especially considering it?s only been a short while since the excellent Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 hit. Revolution drops just about every aspect of what I enjoyed in UNS 3 outside of the core combat mechanics that have been part of the franchise since day 1. Sure, you?ve got an expansive roster, online play, and standard exhibition matches. But the spectacle and story side of the game are clearly lacking or missing altogether, in favor of a lackluster Ninja World Tournament that shoe horns in a completely different style of gameplay that?s just not fun to engage in. Here?s hoping this is the one and only attempt at making free-for-all multi-character combat work within the confines of the UNS series, and hopefully CyberConnect2 can capitalize on what makes the series fun in later installments.

Grade: C-