Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is a game made specifically with the Naruto fan in mind. That said, it does a very good job of catering to those fans. Everything about the game is very faithful to the anime, both in story and in intense action sequences.
There’s not a lot to say about the story in Naruto: UNS2, most of it is incomprehensible to those not versed in at least the basic premise of Naruto, other than that it is told with a great deal of drama and flair. A great deal of work and care seems to have gone into making it feel like part of the anime, and it really pays off. The basic premise of this game is that Naruto and his friends are fighting to protect Hidden Leaf Village against an evil group of ninjas. This is a vast oversimplification, but about the only way to describe it without resorting to using terms those unfamiliar with Naruto wouldn’t understand.
The story is split into 7 chapters, all of them filled with drama and intense fighting and action scenes. Unfortunately, there’s way too much mindless travel and collection quests padding out the story mode. The backdrops and art for the game are very well done, but it gets tiring going back and forth through the streets of Hidden Leaf village multiple times every chapter. You can search for materials along every road and path in the game to use in making more powerful battle items, but the benefit of creating them is outweighed by the sheer amount of time all this travel and backtracking takes. It wouldn’t be a problem if there was some action, or some story or character development along the way, but it seems to simply there to make the world, and playtime, longer. It’s a shame that it breaks up the story and action so much because when you are experiencing the game instead of traveling from one place to another it is a blast.
The controls are simpler than a fighting game, and every character has the same control setup, making it easy to adapt to each different character you’ll fight as. The different types of chakra (special) attacks that you can do also amp up the action and enjoyment in the fights as you go through the story. Unfortunately, this same simplicity means that it doesn’t play as well as a fighting game, the other mode included in Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. Additionally, throughout the game you’ll be faced with numerous boss battles, complete with quick-time events that you’ll have to score well on to win. QTEs are old news by now, but UNS2 uses them well to draw you into some very epic encounters that wouldn’t feel quite so epic if they were simply cutscenes. Whether you are simply hitting a button before a timer runs out or you are mashing a button over and over again to fill up a meter, it all adds up to a frenetic boss battle that feels epic in scale and power. There’s also an added bonus of a secret scene you’ll get to see if you did well enough on the quick-time events.
All the intangibles are here for Naruto. The voice acting is what you’d expect out of an anime, not an anime game, the soundtrack fits the moods and battles just right, and the visuals are exactly what you’d expect from a game based on an anime. Everything is vibrant and looks almost hand-drawn and painted, making it look much better than the typical cel-shaded animation.
A standalone fight mode and an online fight mode round out the game, but as mentioned above, the controls don’t really lend themselves to a competitive fighting game. Sure, it’ll be fun to match up against others with your favorite Naruto character, but you’ll likely find these modes to be a simple distraction compared to the story mode.
All in all, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is a great game for fans of the series, or of anime in general. Just be prepared to spend a long time traveling in order to enjoy the actual gameplay.
Pros: Graphics are great; Voice acting is exactly what you’d want from this type of game; Soundtrack is fitting; Boss battles are suitably epic; Story is great, for those who are familiar with the series
Cons: Lots of backtracking and traveling from place to place; Fighting is somewhat simpler than you’d expect from a game about fighting; Load times are too numerous; Did I mention the traveling?