Review by NekoBlah
I got 99 problems, but a spammer ain't one.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 was really eye-appealing to me. Yes it is a relatively old game, but it still caught my attention with the amazing boss battles, story, music, and best of all, online mode! Or at least, that's what I was hoping to be the best feature of the game. There's no doubt that no online mode is perfect in any game, there are bound to be lag and potentially demeaning players out there, but this really takes the cake. I'll explain later, as this game really has its glory moments but also its diminishing factors as well.
Story (Mode): 8/10
In my opinion, this is the part of the game where I was continuously playing and that actually kept me hooked onto it. Story mode features very extensive cutscenes that can be sat through and enjoyed without having the need to skip. Unless you're attempting to do a speed run. This mode also features RPG elements into it, as in you can walk around, buy items to help you, having to keep track of your health even outside of battle, etc. The voices of the characters can also be switched to Japanese which gives it that traditional feel of watching an anime that is subbed. To some people, this might be unnecessary and to some others, this might be a blessing. The cutscenes have depth in them to some extent, and they are voice acted pretty nice (in Japanese, however. I have not switched back to English voices so I wouldn't know how good or bad the voice acting is for English).
Aside from the cutscenes, you are also given numerous battles and a few boss battles. The difference between the original battles and boss battles is that during a boss battles, there are cutscenes during some points in the battle. Now you don't necessarily just sit back and watch them, you have to interact that would seem like you are saving your character's life. There are prompted commands that you would have to input during these cutscenes and you have a few seconds to react and input the commands. Succeeding to input said commands would result in earning "stars" that would accumulate to unlock a "secret factor" or in other words, an extra cutscene after you beat the boss. Failing to input the commands in time would just result in your character failing what he or she was doing which often results in.. you being blown away or struck which chips off a bit of your health. But the game will rewind to the failed commands and give you as many chances as it takes before you die to complete it. These in-fight cutscenes are really eye-appealing and it has what brought my attention to this game to begin with, and I am very satisfied with what they have done to implement this feature.
Though the cutscenes and boss battles are nice, you are forced to walk around for ages to reach your destination. I kid you not, you will walk more than you will be fighting. As you gain teammates (who will act as supporters during fights), they will initiate small-talk as you are walking the world that relates to the current plot that you are in. It's extremely tedious but it does pay off once you get to the actual fighting. That's really the only complaint that I have, and I'm sure other owners of this game would agree with me. But overall, story mode is great, I love it. Walking could have been just improved though..
The whole story mode took me at least 12 hours to finish, without skipping any scenes. It's not short in any way.
I love the music, it's deep and can be very relaxing to some. I do admit though, the soundtrack does abuse cellos, violins, and pianos. In nearly every track/background music, you will hear at least one of said instruments. This isn't much of an issue to me, because I absolutely love string instruments and the piano, but it can be tiring to other players who aren't accustomed to these instruments. The main theme of the music isn't really your happy-go-lucky and upbeat soundtrack, it's more of something that is relaxing and can be sad to some extent. Some stage background music are actually upbeat however, to get you pumped up for a fight. This will be your saving grace if you really aren't motivated to fight because of the sad and relaxing music which this game really uses often.
But in my opinion, I really love the soundtrack for this game, especially the results menu after defeating your opponent. I'm an avid video game soundtrack listener, and this game really has a different feel to it that can be weird to some but amazing to some other.
Cutscenes in story mode are great, music is amazing (opinion), so just how good is the actual gameplay/fighting? To be honest, this is my first game from the Ultimate Ninja franchise, so I can't really compare how it is to the others. But as a player who actually owns this game, I can say that it lacks depth. As you would have probably known, each character has different techniques which differentiates everyone from each other. This brings some diversity, but it's in the matter of choosing a character who has the most advantages over one who doesn't. Some characters can rush at you with a jutsu, some can't. Some characters can teleport, some can't. Some can use the same jutsu over and over in quick succession, some can't. Now given that there are 2 equal players, facing each other. Player 1 uses an exceptionally good character while Player 2 uses one who doesn't have as much perks as Player 1's character. From what I can see, it's a no brainer that Player 1 will win by default. Given that the 2 players are equal in skill, are the selected characters equal though? Yes I can understand the logic "You can win if you know how to use said character," but that logic can only get you so far. You really cannot simply get close to a character that bombards you with certain jutsus that will take away a big fraction of your health. Yeah, some characters can actually do that. I won't deny the fact that there are ways to get out of it, but that fact that there are characters that can do such a thing in the first place really makes it stressful for players who won't main said character, such as myself.
There is also a substitution (sub) system, where you can evade an opponent's attack and either re-appear right behind them, or just sub right on the spot if you are subbing out of a ranged attack. This may seem like a lifesaver, which is usually is, but it's also very frustrating. Substitution is based on your chakra and it chips off a bit of your chakra if you sub successfully. That being said, you can sub for as long as you want until your chakra bar is depleted. This can frustrate newer players because they just can't land a hit on you. To execute a substitution, you must block/guard at CERTAIN frames when you are about to get hit. Having to face a substitution spammer is frustrating enough, but when they retaliate and combo you, activating it is a bigger pain! New players such as myself find it REALLY hard to execute substitution, so many newbies will simply just mash both guard buttons and pray that it will sub. When it does actually activate, guard mashers will waste at least a second because after they sub, the character will be "guard twitching" because of mashing the guard button over and over again. Substitution is broken. Being able to use it as my times as you want until your chakra is depleted and not being able to use it because it's so frame specific really makes the gameplay really frustrating.
Now we know a few flaws of the game, people will nonetheless abuse them online. In online mode, there are 2 modes. Normal matches and Ranked matches. Normal matches are just your regular matches that does not affect anything (other than both players earning SP). Ranked matches are matches that affect your rank, BP (battle points), win/loss ratio, and character usage ratio. Obviously, more people will be playing ranked matches because they actually mean something. Playing normal matches are just for fun and you can rematch the same person over and over again until one of you leave. This doesn't apply to ranked however. It's one match only and both of you are forced to go back to finding a player to face against.
Now online mode really frustrates me. Albeit I'm not very good at the game, I really wish it was more noob-friendly. While attempting to get a match-up in a ranked match, all of these high ranked players join my room, picking on me for a free win to make their win/loss look better. Now just how fair is that? Not very actually. When attempting to find a match, all of the new players are already occupied and probably because of the same reason. It's hard to find a match that is actually equal in terms of skills between the player. If these were normal matches, I wouldn't mind and would actually face against a high ranker because it doesn't affect anything and it can be sought as training. But I would never do that in a ranked match and spoon feed someone to have such a high win ratio (and me having a high lose ratio in return).
After finally being matched up with someone as the same rank as I am, things can finally be fun now, right? ...Not exactly. Most of the players that I have faced that are the same rank as me use characters that can potentially spam one move forever and win the match. This is really where I have lost hope in online mode. You are being tormented by high ranked players, hoping that you would be a victim so that they can have a high win ratio, and that you are faced against spammers. Apparently having such a high win ratio means so much to the majority of the online community, that they would do said things. This really discourages me to even try to main my favorite character because it's very hard for me to win a match against these type of players.
Don't get me started on lag either. Online matches are prone to lag no matter what game it is. Lagging in this game however, really stinks. Your actions are delayed by a few seconds, depending on how bad the lag is. However the other player seems to be playing just fine. If this is true, I don't know, but either way they're probably laughing at my slow and foolish actions so it doesn't even matter, I'll lose anyway.
This game appealed to me because of its cutscenes and fine music. I did not do ANY research on this game, I've only watched gameplay videos of it and trailers. The game really seemed to be such a good game, and it is! But there are just flaws in the game that would make me throw my controller across the room and rage quit. If you can get passed the spammers in online mode, you can enjoy this game by its story and offline matches. Please note that my complaints are based on a new player's perspective, there is always room for improvement for a player and that they can get over some frustrating elements in this game, I believe in that. But my first impression will be that spammers will ruin online mode for most people, and that it is hard to find an equal match in online mode. Otherwise, this game is worth it.
If possible, I would say rent this game and see if you can handle the flaws of the game. If you can, then I would recommend buying this game.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 (US, 10/19/10)
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