A fast-paced 3D fighting game based on the Naruto series
Windows 7 / Windows 8
Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 takes the frenetic ninja combat that the Naruto anime and manga are famous for and put players in control of their favorite characters from the franchise. As the final game in the long running franchise, the developer has had years to build up the systems and combat, and this entry doesn't disappoint one bit. It's a love letter to the franchise, and what it lacks in terms of moment to moment combat it more than makes up for with fan service. This isn't a fighting game with the level of polish you could expect from the Street Fighter series or the complicated and interlocking mechanics of Arc System Works games, but that means it also doesn't have the same barrier to entry. It's easy for even the most inexperienced players to jump right in and live out their ultimate ninja fantasies, but there's enough depth to allow more experienced players to really grow into the mechanics. It's unlikely to be headlining any major professional tournaments, but it's no slouch for players in need of a solid fighting experience.
The controls are eminently simple and stripped down to just a few buttons, but that's not to say they don't have flair. With dynamic cameras, exceedingly flashy moves, and a strong animation engine that looks like it was ripped straight from the anime, you really feel like you're engaged in epic super powered battles. This game is all about making the most of the cast available, and you aren't locked in to combat with a single fighter whether you're playing through the story mode or jumping into a player vs. player melee. Each player can choose up to three characters and swap between them on the fly in a system similar to the Marvel vs. Capcom series. This brings a whole new layer of strategy, as it allows you to react responsively to the changing dynamics of combat and forces you to juggle the strengths and weaknesses of each of your characters in a moment to moment basis. With 61 characters available right out of the box, there are an innumerable amount of strategies available to you.
Unfortunately, the multiplayer here is much stronger than the single player experience. While that's pretty standard for the fighting game genre, it's a bit of a disappointment for a game built off such a narrative driven franchise. The artificial intelligence is nothing to write home about, so players who have invested in learning the ins and outs of the systems won't find much of a challenge here, and the story campaign clocks in at only about five hours. While you could blow through it in an afternoon, that's perfectly fine if you see it as just an appetizer for the deeper game modes available. Both local and online multiplayer are available, and they can lend an almost limitless amount of playtime out of this game.