Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is the last in the Ninja Storm fighting game series and with the acclaim and success of the previous games, could the fourth game be the best in the franchise?

With the story covering the entirety of the Great Ninja War and a character roster being the largest in the history of the series, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 i s everything Naruto fans want in a fighting game.

Bandai Namco and CyberConnect2 took what makes the Naruto anime so beloved and gave it sleek controls and visuals that are a treat to play.

STORY/ADVENTURE MODE

Fans of the Naruto manga and anime are familiar with the story of Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 . With the Great Shinobi War about to begin and all of the nations unified, can the forces of good defeat the evil plans of Akatsuki?

I’m not going to write a critique of the Naruto manga, which Ultimate Ninja Storm 4’s story derives from, but the way the game tells the ending of one of the most popular manga in history is something to be commended.

Previous Ninja Storm games mixed stills from the anime with graphical elements to great effect and Ninja Storm 4 does so with more polished graphics. Character models look great and the cutscenes that use them move smoothly and transition into the actual fighting very well.

We see this with a lot of fighting games nowadays but Ultimate Ninja Storm embraces its anime roots and the style of the animation is an ideal translation from pages of the manga.

Naruto ultimate ninja storm 4 battle Hashirama and Madara face off Bandai Namco

As for the gameplay in the Story Mode, the developers do a good job of mixing up the gameplay. It’s not just a one-on-one fight as many fighting game story modes are. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 brings in giant monster fights from previous games and swarm battles where you’re defeating a number of opponents in a survival-style fight. The use of real-time controls is also used well and succeeds in making players feel like they are part of the action.

However, the Story Mode is probably longer than most fighting games and that’s mostly because there seems to be more cutscenes and story points than actual fighting.

Fans of Naruto and the story probably won’t mind sitting through lines of dialogue and anime stills but it’s noticeable when you have to put down your controller for minutes at a time.

Sure, you can skip these but if you aren’t familiar with the story you’ll want to watch the events to truly understand what is going on. There’s also points in the story that have no playtime at all, just a video package or recap of events. Not sure why those were there with no gameplay whatsoever.

But if you haven’t read the ending of the manga in a long time, like I haven’t, this is a great way to relive all of the moments. At the end of the day, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 succeeds in its goal to deliver all the action and emotion from the Naruto manga and anime.

There’s also replayability for those who are completionist and want to complete all the mini-tasks in every battle to gain that coveted S-Rank.

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Sasuke and Naruto in a cut scene from Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. Bandai/Namco

And then there’s also Adventure Mode. This RPG-style mode takes place after the main storyline (so be sure to complete that first) and has you take control of Naruto as you complete certain missions.

You can travel the overworld pretty freely and can talk to NPCs to gain information and even accept side quests. It’s a cool new mode that Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 has added to give players even more playtime with the game when they aren’t fighting online or with their friends.

Naruto-Shippuden-Ultimate-Ninja-Storm-4-Adventure-Mode-450x225 Adventure Mode in Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Bandai Namco

GAMEPLAY/BATTLING

While the Story and Adventure Mode in Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 are good, fans of the series play the game for the fighting.

Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 doesn’t change the mechanics from the last game and that’s a good thing. One of the great aspects of the Ninja Storm 4 fighting system is that it’s simple and runs very smoothly leading to some heated battles with amazing visuals.

Once you get the basics down and learn how to use jutsus and how to substitute your way out of combos and tricky situations, you are good to fight almost anyone.

boruto naruto ultimate ninja storm 4 Boruto in Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Bandai Namco

However, if you’re a seasoned fighting game aficionado and want to learn master combinations then you may be disappointed in Ninja Storm 4. T he combos list features just two inputs (O and TRIANGLE) that you’ll be using and there are only so many combinations you can have.

This is a minor nitpick as Ninja Storm 4 is more geared toward casual fans and not competitive fighters, but it gets tiring to spam the same combos over and over.

VERDICT

Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is the largest experience in the franchise and, frankly, it’s the best. The Story Mode hits all of the notes that fans of the manga/anime want and the fighting system hasn’t changed from what made the series a success.

While the Story Mode cutscenes and dialogue can be lengthy and the battling can get repetitive, the overall experience of Ninja Storm 4 makes this an early contender for Best Fighting Game of 2016.

Any anime adaptations in the future should look to this series to make the best video game possible.