by Matt Stoneking
previewed on X360
Wild ninja action
Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday... Walking around school, seeing all those kids wearing their ridiculous headbands. I never knew what they were until I heard of a comic-turned-TV-show called Naruto. I had to see what all the fuss was about so naturally I checked it out and let’s just say that it was not really for me. But when I got my hands on the first video game adaptation of the series, I have to say I could totally picture myself running around with a headband, throwing ninja stars at people as I hide behind trees and jump off tall buildings. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the over-the-top action and it looks like we are in store for more headbands, shurikens, and awesome in-game action sequences in the next instalment!
Comic book storyline to dip into
The game will start from the very beginning of the Shippuden storyline, this being Naruto’s return to the Hidden Leaf Village. You will be taken through every major event you would expect to see in the series including the fight between Jiraiya and Pain, to the attack on the village itself. As a bonus to an already good-looking story mode you will be able to play through with the perspectives of two additional characters, Sakura and Gaara. You have to beat the main campaign with Naruto in order to access the other playable characters and storylines, but this will only work to increase the replayability of the title. Most of the time fighting games like these do not really have much meat in their stories but I have a feeling the people at CyberConnect2 can really make something good here, especially with all the talk of how true they are going to stay true to the series.
Of course, with a new game come new features and this title definitely has a few fresh added extras. Let's start with the reworking of the Hidden Leaf Village. The developers have said that this time around there will be things to do while you are in the village such as roaming around, finding new things. Although in the last game the village was beautiful, there was just a bit that seemed lacking and I think that with this reconstruction they can really hit the nail on the head.
Another awesome little nugget of gameplay is the reactivity of the environment. While you are fighting you will be able to use your surroundings to your advantage, including items and structures. This will certainly make the fights that much more exciting and fun, but also forces the gamer to really pay attention to what is happening on the screen. If you are not careful of where you stand, the enemies may use the opportunity to electrocute the water you are standing in.
Yet, as far as battle mechanics go, there really is not much that will be changed. The same one button primary attack is still there with similar looking crazy action sequences. But I must say that I have no problem with this. Splendidly hectic new battle sequences is just what Naruto Shippuden 2 is supposed to have: ninjas throwing energy balls at each other while flying through the air is everything a fan can ask for. Each character has an “awakening mode” and while in this mode you transform into a stronger version of yourself. This transformation can initiate a sequence that will throw a plethora of buttons for you to press in order to do distinctive attacks or defences. Depending on how fast you can get to the pressed buttons correctly, a variety of scenes or attacks etc. will play out. And who doesn’t like variety am I right?
For the first time in the Shippuden series there will be an online multiplayer mode. This mode will include over 40 playable characters with a cameo of Lars Alexandersson from the Tekken franchise. If all this is not enough to set the fans' hearts racing, I do not know what would.
A must for any fan of the genre
There is just so much in this new instalment to look forward to – and luckily we will not have to wait for too long: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 comes to the stores in mid-October this year on Xbox and PS3. So, go into the closet and grab your ridiculous headband and get ready for some cool action.