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Supposedly the final entry in the series, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (NS:UNS4) tells the final chapter of Naruto’s story. Fans of the Ultimate Ninja Storm games will be happy to learn that NS:UNS4 is faithful to the previous games both in presentation and gameplay.
True to its predecessors
The available modes in NS:UNS4 consist of Story, Adventure, Collection, Free Battle and Online. The main courses are the Story and Adventure modes.
Story mode takes the cinematic approach, going through the events leading up to and including the finale of Naruto’s (and Sasuke’s) story, alternating between cutscenes and battles, with the biggest battles having lots of amazing looking QTE-portions which are really well done. On the downside, since this mode only covers the final chapter(s) of the story it tends to feel a bit short while to fans who haven’t made it as far into the story yet it can feel like they’re thrown into the deep end. It does, however, offer a lot of replay value to completionists by way of unlockables; each battle comes with a number of conditions that will more often than not require you to fight battles multiple times to unlock every last collectible.
I do have one nitpick about the cutscenes that really stands out. A lot of the cutscenes use screenshots from the anime, rather than actual scenes. This works fine for the bits with a narrator, but the ones that contain dialogue just feel off. This is in stark contrast to a number of cutscenes that use in-engine animation. It could very well be due to copyright issues or other technicalities, but it comes off as a bit lazy.
Adventure mode is the RPG-esque open world mode we have seen in previous entries of the series. You walk around the Narutoverse and interact with characters while performing missions in the form of collecting items, playing minigames, fighting battles etc. Just like in Story mode, completing all the various goals and conditions unlocks you a lot of stuff ranging from simple items to playable characters.
On to the meat of the game: the actual battles. At first glance the gameplay mechanics remain largely unchanged. You’ll soon find out, though, that some significant tweaks have been made. Luckily these tweaks are for the better: Now it’s possible to take full control of your support characters, rather than limiting them to a one-off attack. This – to a degree – changes the dynamic of battles. While support characters always were useful strategically, the support characters no longer have a gimmicky feel to them. Overall the controls feel even more tight than they did before, making the fights in NS:UNS4 the best ones to date. It helps that the visuals are even better now that the jump to current gen consoles has been made. Having even more detail to each setting really helps the characters pop off the screen.
Speaking of characters, the roster is huge at 61 playable shinobi (not counting all variations, boss battle only characters and upcoming DLC). Many of those characters are unlocked by completing the Story and Adventure modes while other collectibles can be found in Collection mode, which serves as a store/library for collectibles.
In Free Battle mode you can have a quick match against the CPU or a friend (ad hoc multiplayer) while you can really put your skills to the test in Online mode.
The most noteworthy mention as far as the options go is that you switch between the English and the Japanese audio. While this is nothing new to the series, it is always good to see that fans of either version of the anime can pick their favorite voice cast.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is a solid and faithful entry to the series that succesfully made the jump to the current generation of consoles. Despite the somewhat short Story mode the game offers a ton of content and replay value. Screenshot cutscenes stand out in a game that otherwise oozes style: the game looks great. The gameplay tweaks improve upon the already solid base gameplay mechanics and are sure to please both loyal fans of the series as well as Naruto fans who are looking to pick up a game that feeds their need for interactive Naruto lore.
Take note: NS:UNS4 is 100% directed at fans of the Naruto franchise. A non-fan probably wouldn’t pick this game up to begin with, but it’s worth a mention. If you’re new to Naruto and want to give this a shot it might be wise to either work your way up the Naruto story by way of the manga/anime or try a previous entry to this game series that covers earlier parts of the story.