|System: Xbox 360, PS3*, PC|
|Dev: CyberConnect 2|
|Pub: Namco Bandai Games|
|Release: October 22, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Awwww. It looks like anime fighters have finally grown up. Usually, these fandom fests are dismissed as pandering cash-in jobs that can’t hang with the big boys like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. But now, anime fighters have gone through one of the biggest steps in hardcore fighting-game puberty. They finally have their very own expansion pack that is being branded as a full-priced title. So give a warm welcome to Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst—the Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition of the anime-fighter world.
Usually, when a fighting game gets re-released like this, its main appeal is balance changes. This is not the case with Full Burst, as the designers don’t seem to be concerned with game balance at all. Just like the original Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 before it, Full Burst’s versus mode is a totally broken mess. Certain characters are absolutely useless, while others are unstoppable god machines. The boss characters are still incredibly overpowered, and you’ll still find characters that can hit you from clear across the screen, lock you into pseudo infinite combos, and generally cheese you to death using techniques that the designers probably didn’t think about.
When we originally reviewed Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, we said that this was one of the first fighting games where the versus mode was an afterthought, and that still holds true here. The real draw of the game is the single-player story mode, Ultimate Adventure, which faithfully recreates the events of Naruto Shippuden. In this mode, it doesn’t matter that characters are an unbalanced and broken mess because that’s exactly how they are in the Naruto anime and manga. So, of course, all of the “balance changes” usually implemented in a fighting-game update would be made here.
And by “balance changes,” we mean cinematic updates. Yes, believe it or not, it’s the cutscenes of Full Burst that have gotten the biggest overhaul. In-game cinematics have all been cleaned up to look smoother and more anime like, and it’s noticeable. Whether it’s the updated dynamic camera angles, the slightly tweaked animations, the smoother cel-shaded textures, or whatever, Full Burst certainly does look better than its predecessor.
That’s not the only update the story mode has to offer. A brand new chapter has also been included, which covers Itachi’s escape from Kabuto’s control. If you don’t know what this means, then you aren’t caught up with Naruto enough for it to be a spoiler. Altogether, this new chapter pushes Full Burst’s story mode to a little over 12 hours of content; this makes it one of the longest fighting-game story modes we have ever seen.
Unfortunately, this and the redone cinematics are the only new things that the story mode has to offer. The rest plays out exactly the same as it did in vanilla Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, including Hero/Legend decision points, side-missions, boss fights, mid-fight scene transitions, and more. So anyone who already played the original is going to be treading on some pretty familiar ground here.
Another thing that usually sells fighting game re-releases is the addition of new characters. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst does technically expand its roster… by one. The sole new character is Sage Mode Kabuto. Yes, it’s not really even a new character; it’s just an old character with new moves and abilities. Granted, he does play completely different from normal Kabuto, and he looks incredibly evil! Also, as a boss character, he’s pretty brokenly awesome and powerful. So people who are looking to get a power rush will have a lot of fun with him. However, you can probably get all of your new-character kicks out in no more than a half hour, and then it becomes depressing to see that the roster hasn’t changed in any other significant way.