|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 18, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
This year has definitely been a big one for Naruto. With new games coming out on every major system including both handhelds, this ninja sure has been busy! Naruto: The Broken Bond is the Xbox 360 exclusive follow up to last years critically acclaimed Rise of a Ninja, and it improves upon its predecessor in almost every way. It is a model hybrid between an action/adventure title and a traditional brawler, and it combines elements from both of these genres to create a deep and memorable Naruto experience that fans (as well as a few non-fans) can truly get into.
The story mode revolves around the aftermath of the invasion of Konoha and the beginning of the Tsunade arc. Although this part of the story has definitely been explored in previous titles, The Broken Bond also allows you to view the events of this particular arc through the perspective of other characters. Although all the core events in the game remain the same as the manga and anime, the new perspectives are a clever way of keeping this often-used material fresh for even the most seasoned fan. However, if you are not a Naruto fan, The Broken Bond does not include any backstory, so you may need to play Rise of a Ninja to understand the events that take place during the story mode.
The story mode works in the same way that it did in Rise of a Ninja and consists of several different story missions, as well as optional side-quests, that your character can complete to progress in the game. These missions can vary from traditional battle to discovery and collection missions, which have you performing various errands around the current setting. Each mission completed will net you a certain amount of friendship points, which will allow you to upgrade your stats.
You play through most missions as Naruto but are also be able to assume the role of other characters simultaneously to perform various character-specific jutsus. When you are able to change characters, you can use the D-pad to switch between characters and form different parties. In addition to using the different character jutsus, you can also use the multi-character facet to solve level-based puzzles that involve pulling switches in different areas or as a tag-partner in combat-based missions.
The battle system in The Broken Bond takes most of its cues from Rise of a Ninja but with a few improvements. The combo system is still very simple, and you will only have a handful of character-specific combo moves. There is also a hand-sign jutsu system that allows you to perform various actions with the two thumbsticks in order to charge and execute various jutsus. The core combat works very well, but the hand-signs are a little bit more difficult to execute in battle despite being rather specific.
The story mode in The Broken Bond is fairly short and will probably take only about ten hours or so to complete, with only a few extra hours added from optional missions. However, Naruto: The Broken Bond does have some deep multiplayer options to satiate your post-game needs. One of my main criticisms of both the Clash of Ninja and Ultimate Ninja series has been the lack of online play. Naruto: The Broken Bond, however, bucks this trend and has not only traditional brawling matches but a very deep tournament mode that allows you to gain points and level your character up as you beat online opponents. The online component has to be the best facet of this title, just because no other Naruto title has been able to make the jump online yet. However, if you want to keep things local, there is also an offline versus mode that you can play with up to three friends.