Review by Jaden_Arbiter
"Randomly inserted Puzzle A and B shouldn't have made the story itself completely secondary"
Here we are with Naruto: The Broken Bond, number 2 in the 360 installments we have seen from Ubisoft Montreal so far. In this sequel you begin as Sarutobi, The Third, as he fights to the death against his former student Orochimaru and end with the departure of Sasuke following his Cursed Seal bout against Naruto: mandatory events that were not taken to the next level but were treated secondary in their importance.
Foremost, Ubisoft Montreal felt that the best way to maximize player time expenditure without stretching the boundaries of their budget should involve inserting random, easily interchangeable puzzles in the adventure mode of Broken Bond -- even when their existence doesn't have any reason to it at all. Each contraption practically stands outside the bounds of general logic; for example there are sets of tree sections bounded together by spikes that either consistently sprout from the ground and return back underground in ratios of one to two seconds or those that simply impede your pathway, but neither of them aren't protecting anything more than a mere golden coin so many meters away that no one would honestly care about.
We can therefore see that Ubisoft didn't even want to waste their time conceiving reasons behind why character A and B or A, B, and C experience such problems, and why the person who had instructed them with their objective didn't inform them of any reason involving those problems either. Aside from filler inserts between co-similar story missions that could have easily been improved, we at least see the story missions real-time instead of as cutscenes stolen from the anime -- like the original. While inspiring and sometimes equipped with appealing line-writing we don't see much else offered to us, unfortunately, when evaluating the positives of Ubisoft's new style.
Aside from the the adventure mode's ridiculous puzzles there is also an element of strategy involved that at some periods of time serves to be an enjoyable learning opportunity; for example, a bridge is broken that can only be crossed initially by Naruto's bunshins acting as its replacement, but Neji or Kiba's ability to sense for hidden explosive notes is also needed simultaneously. Ubisoft at least deserve one general applaud for this strategy/teamwork element that is so characteristic of the anime itself.
But we haven't yet spoken of the second gameplay system, that being the intermediate fights within the adventure mode. Every character has two left-right stick initiative jutsus, one usually serving the purpose of a power-up, the second a special either involving a successive pressing of the A button or two scopes that need to be inter-lined on the screen. These characters have up to four or five general combos, which each end with a 'killer combo' -- a final strike that exclaims a kanji character and slightly more damage than a usual strike. A Rage mode--momentarily having increased damage combined with a depleting second bar of energy--back B initiative substitutions, and double-left or right control stick tapping for side-steps are the secondary characteristics of the battle system.
For any general fan of Naruto or a player who wants to experience two simultaneous genres should choose this title for purchase instead of rent, as it is a 13-hour game which has a few achievements that cannot be earned as easily as the others. A good game overall that could really use a few practical improvements to stand on the same grounds with the anime and its writing quality. We hope to see a much better title come from you in 2010 Ubisoft.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/16/09
Game Release: Naruto: The Broken Bond (US, 11/18/08)
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