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Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (Xbox One)

The Fourth Great Ninja War has reached its climax. Identities are revealed, lines will be drawn and the fate of the Shinobi world rests in the hands of the next generation. Will Naruto be successful in protecting everything he has come to stand for and achieve his lifelong dream? Or will the sins of the past consume him and his allies?

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is a Fighting/RPG title developed by CyberConnect2. The fourth and final installment to the Ultimate Ninja Storm franchise. It was released for both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 on February 5th in Europe and February 9th in the U.S. It has since gone on to sell over 1.3 million units. The game is notable for containing the largest roster of characters from the Naruto universe, and boasts a wide variety of different team combinations between multiple generations of characters.

When it comes to anime tie-in games, a majority of them can be hit or miss due to the all to common trend of rehashing the story. However, what has always set the Ultimate Ninja Storm series apart is not what story it's telling but how well it can tell the story. With big cinematic battles, refined fighting mechanics and format that is able to tap into the heart of the Naruto tale, the Ultimate Ninja Storm games have proven themselves to be standout anime based titles.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is no exception.

Due to this being the last installment of the series, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 changed up several aspects of the game while still retaining it's more iconic elements. The major one being the separation of the Story mode (which retells the climax and resolution of the Naruto story) and Adventure mode (a more exploration RPG mode with side quests set after the main story). This seemed like an odd choice to me since I always thought the exploration helped with the immersion into the narrative and made the world feel so much bigger. However, given the fact that this is the first piece of media other than the manga to show how the story ends, it would make sense why it would be necessary to make two separate modes.

Taking a nod from the previous title, Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, Ninja Storm 4 still has a minor character customization mode for online play and an extra large roster of characters to choose from. Many of these characters include several unique support animations when using their Ultimate Justu abilities, some harkening back to big moments in the franchise or offering a new look of characters that had never had a chance to be seen working together. Gameplay wise, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 borrows all the best aspects of its previous titles and has found a way to blend them together flawlessly. Making ninja battles more streamlined than every before. There are a handful of broken characters (Sasuke, Great Sage Madara and Kaguya in particular) but there is still enough variety that fans and newcomers alike will enjoy going from character to character in versus matches.

Much like with the previous titles, CyberConnect2 put a lot of effort to make sure the game's presentation was second to none. They also have always had a distinct talent to capture the anime look in a three-dimensional plane. Bringing Kishimoto's characters to life like never before. That being said, there are a few odd choices that I felt kept the game from reaching its full potential in terms of style. Primarily the heavy use of still shots from the anime in the first half of the game. While shots from the anime have been used in previous titles (mainly used in brief flashbacks) this is the first time they have been used to depict onscreen action. With added animated filters to simulate motion and quick editing. While it isn't bad per se, there is a stark contrast between this and the much more impressive 3D modeling and animation that CyberConnect2 does so well. That contrast took me out of experience more than a few times and left even a hardcore fan like me disappointed.
Still, there is enough visual candy in the latter portion of the story mode that will make sitting through the stills worth it.

After all the impressive visual effects, new gameplay additions, and the prospect of DLC for adventure mode, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is a good conclusion to the series and the Naruto tale. While it is far from my favorite Naruto game (that honor goes to Ultimate Ninja Storm 3) it is nice to see even the chaotic climax finally put to animation. To this day, I'll always support this series as one of the best ways to experience Kishimoto's tale. If you're a fan, or just have a passing interest in the Naruto franchise, check out Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 or any other of the Ultimate Ninja Storm titles. Over the top ninja action has never looked so good.

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is available for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Microsoft Windows.