I know it’s hard to believe, but Namco Bandai’s Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 marks the end of the line for the long-running game series. As the only Naruto title on the current generation of home consoles, at least it’s finishing on top. I would say that I smell a remastered collection coming, but after playing Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 there’s not much reason to go back. If the series had started the way it’s finished, I suspect there would be a lot more Naruto fighting game fans out there. As it is, at least your loyalty has finally been rewarded.
Again, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 covers the final arcs of the Naruto anime series storyline, making it the very last installment in the series. For those following that storyline, it begins right where Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 left off, in the middle of the Fourth Shinobi World War. The victorious Naruto destroys Tobi’s mask, and is revealed to be Obito Uchiha, Kakashi Hatake’s former teammate who was thought to be dead. Madara teams up with Tobi, as Naruto; their various attacks prove futile; and they end up resurrecting the gargantuan demon, Ten Tails.
From there, the Story Mode of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is played through a series of branching segments that allow the player to go back and replay them from the opposing side. Once the main story is completed, the game offers an Adventure Mode. Here players are allowed to go on adventures in the world of Naruto after the events of Story Mode, though there is a lot of backtracking through earlier storylines. There is already an add-on scenario pack available for purchase online – the first of many, I’m sure.
Of course, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is a fighting game, and some attention should be given to its actual mechanics. Like the previous Ninja Storm games, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 isn’t a great fighting game. While the speed and controls are adequate, the AI opponents have a tendency to spam attacks, robbing you of any real joy. New to this game are some quick time events in particularly epic battles, that do a lot to add to the game’s scale. The team fighting is also improved, allowing you to switch between your main character and support characters quickly.
To encourage players to take their talents online, Namco offers a daily stamp for a bingo card that can be redeemed for various prizes. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 also offers limited-time events where more bonuses can be earned. Other than that, there is a typical character customization system for player matches. The ranked matches are a little more standardized. I did have trouble actually getting online though, and frequently received a “This session is full” error. Luckily Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is one of the few games that actually does offer local multiplayer too, that is if you have another Naruto fan in the house.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is a surprisingly well-put-together game. From the intro, everything about it exudes polish. Considering the premise, I’m not sure a Naruto game could ever be a really balanced fighter, but Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is going to be as close as it gets. Fans should be happy that Namco was willing to put in some extra time and effort to make sure the game came out as well as it did. I also expect the publisher to fully support the game with a good amount of DLC offered. The servers should be up for a good while, as they try to extend the game’s shelf life as long as possible.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, and Violence. This game can also be found on: PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.