Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is overflowing with fan service, but it’s this dedication to its source material that actually makes it the great game that it is. However, it’s audience is almost purely going to be fans of the anime, without that interest in the over the top ninja soup opera action and storyline you’ll struggle to fight through the tedium of Ninja Storm 4’s story, and struggle further with the repetitive combat.

For fans however, this is precisely what you’re looking for in a videogame adaptation. The story follows the narrative of the anime, putting you in the shoes of different characters along branching and parallel paths that pits you in fights against and alongside all your favourite characters. It’s plays out like it’s source material, with copious amounts of fully voiced dialogue from either still frames or animated sequences from the show, followed by a fight in a 3D arena or a quick time event. It’s a lot of lore for you to digest but fans will no doubt be hungry for it, and the payoff of engaging in the fights is certainly worth it.

The combat takes place in 3D arenas with several camera anchor points. As such it’s a little disorientating at first but wonderfully freeing once you get to grips with it. It allows for the same bombastic combat of the show to be played out by yourself, dashing around the environment throwing punches, kicks, special moves and devastating super moves, all at a smooth and fast frame rate with stunning visual fidelity. It looks like the show, sometimes in fact it looks better, and it’s a wonderful visual treat to witness the insane levels of carnage being performed by your own fingers tips.

It’s not the most intuitive, however. The first few fights are likely to cause you trouble as you being to master the controls and movement within the 3D space. Moreover, each character has their own move-set to master and teams of characters work together differently. Eventually it all clicks you’ll be hurling fireballs and kicking butt all over the place, effortlessly dealing with the many tricks up your enemy’s sleeves.

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Whilst Quick Time Events are abundant they’ve seldom felt so natural. The over the top theme and anime setting make the QTE feels appropriate and often create some stunning climaxes to the fights. Meanwhile, the hyperbolic drama of the story is pretty entertaining once you submit to its premise.

Once the story mode has been conquered a RPG-light Adventure Mode can be played where battles are replaced with arcade bouts. Additionally there are challenge battles to try your hand at as well as verses and tournaments if you fancy taking on fighters online. And with it’s fast and stable netcode and a pleasantly large amount of peoples to play against, it provides a great extra set of modes if you’re more into the combat than the story. It lacks the depth of dedicated fighters such as Mortal Kombat but maintains enough uniqueness with it’s large roster to add some strategy.

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Thanks to Xbox and Bandai Namco for supporting TiX

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