Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 aims to deliver what any sequel should strive to offer: expanding on the original game's strengths while diminishing its weaknesses. While the first Ultimate Ninja Storm was far from a perfect game, it delivered an incredibly polished (and most importantly, faithful) recreation of the first seasons in the Naruto series. With a number of significant enhancements being made for UNS2, there's good reason for hardcore fans to get excited.

Undoubtedly, the most noteworthy aspect of the first Naruto game on PS3 had to be its graphics. Many of the anime's biggest moments were recreated using the in-game engine, arguably besting the visuals found in the original series. While we haven't seen the Xbox 360 port in action, the PS3 sequel still retains the vibrant, authentic look of a hand-drawn cartoon. It's hard to say if the graphics have gotten better, but there are definitely moments in UNS2 that are simply jaw dropping.

The combat system has, for the most part, remained unchanged in UNS2. Hardcore fighting enthusiasts will still find it too simplistic. (It does, after all, have only one primary attack button.) However, Naruto fans will appreciate how true to the series fights feel. For the single-player story, it appears boss fights have gotten much more dynamic than before. My fight against Kakashi was lengthy, and moved from one arena to another. The enemy AI has a much-expanded set of moves that took advantage of the environment. For example, Kakashi would electrocute the water, forcing you to quickly find solid land to stand on. Now, fights involve more than just brute force -- there's platforming to think about as well.


The over-the-top mid-battle cinematics have returned, this time with more interactivity. In the first game, a full chakra attack would result in a button-mashing contest, whereas UNS2 offers branching special attacks, with each part of the cutscene changing depending on your QTE success. The potential for variance within these attacks should make triggering these sequences less repetitive than in the first game.

It appears CyberConnect2 has also listened to concerns surrounding the campaign from the original game. While the Hidden Leaf Village was gorgeously recreated in the game, there simply wasn't much to do in it. According to a Namco Bandai producer, you'll visit new locales and partake in new kinds of activities in the sequel. For example, we saw a tease of what looked like a rail shooting segment. (Hopefully, tree-running won't make a repeat appearance.) Interestingly, the story will also be told from three perspectives, presumably those of Naruto, Sakura and Gaara.

Beyond the single player, multiplayer has been expanded with the noteworthy addition of online multiplayer. That alone might be worth the price of admission for some fans. Yet, even if Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 didn't attempt to go beyond the design of the original, I'm certain that Naruto fans would still like the game.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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