Nothing to fight for in ‘Naruto’

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By Bill Molina

(Gamespress.com)

By Bill Molina

If you’re a “Naruto” fan, you may be a bit disappointed. If you’re a gamer you will be let down.

If you’re a “Naruto” fan and a gamer, you will be both.

Although Cyberconnect2 created a simple and artistic fighter for the Playstation 3, they have failed at creating a true tribute to the popular “Naruto” series.

Fans of the show will easily be able to pick apart where the game obviously fails, and gamers will not have much fun.

You follow the story of Naruto, a young and headstrong ninja from Konoha, on his quest to become Hokage, the leader and guardian of the village of leaf ninjas.

A great many events lead to him to fight against his best friend Sasuke to keep him from running away.

Sadly, the game only shows you a glimpse of the anime’s great story and even less from its incredible fight sequences.

This is truly heartbreaking as the scenes the game does show you are truly a sight to behold.

Vibrant colors and sharp attention to detail make these scenes breathtaking, but there simply aren’t enough of them to truly drive the point home.

You are only given small bits of dialogue from Naruto’s perspective when advancing the story, and with a knucklehead ninja narrating the tale so much gets lost.

It really makes you wish there were more movie scenes to really bring you into the experience.

Instead, gamers must rely on lame text that utterly fails to make players care about what’s happening.

Fans will be saddened to know that the story’s first villains, giant sword-wielding Zabuza and his deadly sidekick Haku, are not playable in this game.

Actually, they are not even mentioned once.

The four sound ninjas are another team of villains vital to the end of the story and will only be usable as support characters after being released as free downloadable content in the future.

The 11 minute mandatory install takes up almost four gigabytes, and the game easily loads for up to 30 seconds every couple of minutes, which is horrifically long for even the worst next generation titles.

Also it makes you save data manually, which will absolutely grate on the most patient gamer’s nerves.

Next generation gaming has taught us how vital a feature auto saving truly is, and when you boot the game up and see new game and load game, it really belittles your intelligence, as if the purchase itself wasn’t enough.

From a technical standpoint, the fighting game is simple, so anyone can jump right in, but the lack of depth will leave hardcore gamers wanting to play a better game.

The true challenge lies in regulating your Chakra bar usage, the energy gauge you use for special ninjutsu attacks, lightning fast maneuvers and swiftly dodging attacks.

Sadly, the substitution jutsu you use to break free from enemy combos is very unreliable.

Instead of timing the block button when struck like you’re meant to, your best chance of pulling it off comes when you just mash on the block button repeatedly and get lucky.

It really does work best that way, which removes a great deal of skill from the proceeding ninja duels.

You can call in two assist characters to help you during combat several times per battle.

However, this tool will unbalance the game greatly, as some ninja assists are so vastly superior to others that it can really make or break the match, thus removing even more skill from the fighting and placing it in lucks hands.

Previous entries in this series on the Playstation 2 have more characters and content than this next gen game.

Although it promises at least 30 hours of gameplay, I had completed every bonus mission and finished collecting every trophy and secret easily within 26 hours, most of which felt like homework.

Another testament to the failure of Cyberconnect2 to truly deliver a complete “Naruto” experience, this game will only have you asking for more and not in the good way.

Fans will sorely want more “Naruto” content, and gamers will desperately want more replay value.

Fans of both will probably want their money back.

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