Developed by CyberConnect2, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, a fighting game, is the conclusion to both the Storm series and the Naruto story. During my time with the game, I had a lot of fun. Despite this, I couldn’t ignore the glaring issues that I had with both the execution of the story and the online portion of the game.
Looking past the issues I had with this game, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is an okay game for fans of the series. It’s a shame however that a game that is supposed to conclude the Naruto story ends up having the weakest execution of a story mode out of all three Naruto Storm games. My issues aren’t with the actual content of the story, because what is actually offered in the story mode of this game is extensive and remains truthful to the source content, that is, the Naruto manga, or Japanese comic. However, the way the game goes about telling the story both feels lazy and cheap.
In the previous Storm games, the majority of the story was told through CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) cut scenes. Although, in this game, the majority of time spent in the story is through still images of the Naruto show, with the addition of added effects, and dialogue played over these scenes. This feels extremely cheap and lazy. I felt incredibly bored during these portions of the game, due to the fact that scenes like these lasted more than a couple of minutes. This is only made worse when it’s compared to the actual CGI cut scenes in this game.
This is when the story looks its best and the player can actually feel immersed in the game. Unfortunately, this immersion is interrupted after completing a mission. Instead of moving on with the story, the player is brought back to the story menu and needs to manually select a new mission to continue the story. A story mode is supposed to immerse the player, make them feel as though they were there. The story mode in this game failed to do that.
One thing Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 improves on is the fighting mechanics. The core fighting largely remains the same, but with a few additions and tweaks that make the fighting more fun. In previous games the other two characters that you pick as supporting characters were mainly just that, support. The only real interaction you had with them was by a button press where they would do a move and then retreat. Now in a fight, the player has the option to swap out with other characters so they feel more important to the fight than just a button press. Team swapping is not a new concept due to the fact that these types of mechanics have been seen in games such as Marvel vs Capcom, and Mortal Kombat but it is still refreshing to see the game implement this feature. Each character, when partnered with a specific character, can pull off a team finisher that is both unique with the characters used, and flashy due to the cinematics you see during these moves. This gives the player incentive to try different characters out and see what different team finishers they can pull off.
It’s sad to see the online portion of this game be unplayable at times. Connecting to other players can be a chore, and can result in two different things happening while waiting. You either connect to the match after waiting—this can put you in a match immediately or after waiting a couple of minutes—or you have a disconnect issue pop-up that forces you back into the online menu. When you can actually connect to the match, the match can slow down at times due to the bad servers, which causes button presses to be delayed or not even registered, or the match suddenly ends with a disconnect because of the unreliable servers. Bandai Namco, the publisher of the game, had released a statement that they are working on the servers so players have better connections in matches, but with other fighting games having more reliable connections, this is unacceptable.
Besides online and story mode, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 has other modes as well like Adventure, Tournament, and Survival. Adventure mode feels tacked on, and didn’t really grab my interest due to how mundane some of these missions were. Some of these missions became fetch quests where you get an item here and then return it to the owner over there. Then after finishing that, you get a mission complete. The other modes like Survival and Tournament, are like what their names say and are okay.
Overall, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is an alright game. Compared to the other Storm games, this is by far the weakest, due to the presentation of both the story and the subpar online experience. If you can look past these issues, then Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is worth checking out.