Review by Rebel_Dutch

"A worthy successor"

It wasn't all that long ago that Naruto: Rise of a Ninja was released on the Xbox 360 and put one of the best efforts into a fighting game story mode that I have ever seen. However, the game had its fair share of problems, as well as some pretty nasty glitches that are unforgiveable on the developer's part. Anyway, around the beginning of this year, Naruto: The Broken Bond was announced.

Being a fan of Naruto, I went and picked this up on day one. I'll go over what I was impressed and unimpressed with in this game, as well as point out some of the major improvements from Rise of a Ninja.

Graphics: 8/10
Well, it's not Gears of War, but the graphics are pretty damn nice in the game. While still cell-shaded, the developers did a really good job of making the graphics shine more than they did in any Naruto game before. I don't know how these game makers did it, but even cell-shaded graphics have improved drastically since last gen. I don't recall ever having any problems with the framerate in this game, which is very nice regardless of the genre. The lighting effects in the game are also done very nicely.

There's no direct scenes from the anime in this game, unlike Rise of a Ninja. Dialogue and story scenes are all done with in-game cutscenes this time around, and they're done really well.

+Good graphics for cell-shading.
+Not many background glitches, if any.
+Great lighting
+Good framerate, no dips

-Not the best graphics ever, but nowhere near being bad.

Story: 10/10
Not too much for me to judge here, as the game follows the storyline of the Anime and Manga pretty closely, except for some filler. The storyline of this game picks up close to where Rise of a Ninja left off, which was in the middle of the Chunin exams. Being the sequel that it is, The Broken Bond begins at the end of the exams, after the village is being attacked. I'm trying to avoid giving spoilers away, just incase there's someone out there playing this game who doesn't already know the storyline, but your first fight in the game puts you in control of the 3rd Hokage- and you're treated to some pretty sweet action scenes right off the bat.

This game has one of the best adventure/story modes for any fighting game that I've ever seen before. The reviewers say that it took them over 10 hours to complete the main story alone without doing any of the side quests or missions. On my first playthrough, it took me 12 hours- and I'm still running around collecting coins and the hidden character cards. Granted, the story does have a very healthy amount of filler in it. But if it didn't, the game would probably be a whole 3-4 hours long. Playing filler is a lot less painful than watching it though...

One MAJOR improvement in this one over Rise of a Ninja is that you aren't forced to play as Naruto in the story mode. You can take a party of 2 allies with you for anything whenever you leave town, and you can switch to controlling them at anytime. The story also lets you play as Sasuke for a time, to experience his side of the story. The only part of the story in this game that I was slightly disappointed with was that certain important parts were literally left out of the game, and seeminly without reason. An example of this is the scene that takes place after Choji takes the 3rd pill during his fight in the Sasuke retrieval arc. It's a pretty cool part of the show, and I doubt it would've been all that painful for them to put into the game.

+Not restricted to playing as Naruto anymore.
+New Party System.
+Very long story mode (10-15 hours).

-Certain key parts of the anime left out for no apparent reason.
-The time that you experience as Sasuke could be longer, even if it was filler.

Gameplay: 7/10

This section is strictly opinion I'd say, because fighting games have never really been my cup of tea. Firstly, the game controls pretty well. If you're a Rise of a Ninja veteran, then you'll pick the controls in this game right up. One thing that I noticed in this game is that they've slowed down the speed of battle a lot, which some say is a nerf on the whole Up+Y/X spamming issue from the first game. Using the substitution jutsu in this game is pretty tricky, and takes carefully planned timing, and sometimes luck. As with most things though, you get better at it as time goes on.

My old nemesis, QTE(Quick-time-events), returns in this game, but not too terribly often. Quick time events are where you'll be watching a cutscene and are suddenly prompted to press some random button out of the blue or you'll die and have to redo the whole damned thing again, and that's pretty much it... The whole "Press X to dodge" thing was neat at first, but lately has gotten to be a bit of an annoying fad amongst game developers that I hope ends soon. Don't get me wrong, quick-time events during a fight are okay, like when using the shadow clone jutsu. But I probably can't count how many times I've died in games (especially Resident Evil 4) because I dared to look away from the screen for a few seconds to talk to someone, only to look back and see a big *GAME OVER* for no damned reason. It's lame, to put it lightly. I realize that some think it adds interactivity into cutscene, but there really should be a less annoying way of going about something like that.

+Similar controls to RoAN.
+Harder for people to spam, even if slightly.
+Making Hand signs to do jutsus is fun, to me anyway.
+Slower battle speed

-Quick Time Events, irritating.
-People still spam combos online, though that's not really the game's fault.
-Substitution jutsu can be tricky, compared to past Naruto games(Ie: Ultimate Ninja)

Overall: 8/10

Overall, I'd advise a rent of this game for non-Naruto fans who just want a fighting game. For fans of the Anime/Manga though, I'd advise picking this game up. It's probably the first Naruto game that's actually worth full price. For the time being, there's no major glitches in this game.

RoAN vets might remember how downloading Shikamaru in that game would freeze your whole console during parts of story mode, which got really irritating(It could be fixed by downloading the Jiraiya trial, but it's still ridiculous). I've found no instances like that in this game, thank God. One final note for this game, the amount of playable characters has increased dramatically. In RoAN, you had like... 10 characters to choose from in Vs and tournament mode. This time there's around 30 playable characters.

If you're one of many wondering whether to get this or Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm for the PS3, I'd advise this one. I've played UNS and it was pretty much Uzumaki Chronicles 2.5, very different from past Ultimate Ninja games, and sadly not in a good way. On the bright side though, both games have demos available, so that you can try out both and make a reasonable decision based on that. Have fun, and thanks for reading.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/04/08

Game Release: Naruto: The Broken Bond (US, 11/18/08)

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