Jul 18, 2008

Namco Bandai's upcoming Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm is such a surprising treat. The PS3 exclusive has earned a lot of attention due to its fantastic graphics, but Ninja Storm features far more than just a pretty face. We had a chance to play a more expansive build at Namco Bandai's E3 booth, where we took a sneak peak at the game's elusive single player mode and got some hands-on time with the multiplayer.

Naruto's adventure begins just like it does in the manga. A cool treat for fans will be the inclusion of both Japanese and English audio for the story. From the looks of things, all the dialogue in the game may be spoken. While the lip-syncing was very off, we're hoping it can be fixed before Naruto's upcoming holiday release. The adventure will have Naruto exploring the Hidden Leaf village, much like in the Xbox 360 Naruto game. He'll have to talk to various villagers to progress the story, unlock missions and goals. Surprisingly, the first PS3 Naruto game covers a lot of territory: we were told that the game's story will go all the way up to the Sasuke Retrieval arc.

The build we got to play with had other characters, such as Sasuke and Gaara. However, we weren't allowed to take a glimpse at the entire roster. Undoubtedly, all the series favorites will be available. We played against a Namco PR representative in a battle: we played as Sasuke, he played as Naruto. Just like in the public demo, the graphics look rather lush. The stylized explosions in particular look rather nice. Our build had some unfortunate aliasing problems, which is blamed by this build's early state (the public demo looks much more polished). The delay after being knocked back is still a bit too significant -- hopefully, the Naruto team will be able to change that before the game's release.

One new thing we were able to do in this E3 build was enter Sasuke's second state. After charging enough chakra, we were able to transform into a much deadlier Sasuke -- we were shooting fireballs, and moved with lightning-fast speed. It wasn't long before the PR rep fell, defeated.

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm is a lot of fun, and with its beautiful graphics and extensive single player story, we're sure it'll appeal to both Naruto fans and non-fans alike. With just a few tweaks, we can see it becoming a great (offline) multiplayer addition to any PS3 collection.


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