- Awesome realization of a fan-favorite anime/manga, with voice-acting in both English and original Japanese
- LOTS of unlockables, including 80 characters and hundreds of music, audio, video clips and customizable features
- Art is colorful and detailed and stands as a shining example of a game adapted from a manga/anime
- *Very* cutscene heavy; familiarity with the series is basically a necessity in order to keep players invested in the lengthy story
- Many forgettable level-specific mini games
- Online play can be frustrating since some characters are very imbalanced
Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is a solid manga/anime-inspired fighting game that does a great service to fans, but might have a bit of trouble drawing in newcomers. It's not really a stretch to say that this game expects its players to be familiar with its universe. Taking place fairly far along into the series' second major story arc, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 jumps right into the story. The game does a good job of introducing characters and events, but I wouldn't be surprised if some people new to the series were to get a little lost in all of the terms and introductions.
The story mode is very custcene heavy. These cutscenes feel almost like they were extracted directly from the anime, which serves for a pretty cool and authentic experience. This is strengthened with the presence of the series' well-known music, which plays throughout the game's story and further immerses the player. However, similar to the anime, these cutscenes can be drawn-out at times, testing the patience of its audience. While there is always the option to skip these cutscenes, one should be aware that the game's story mode sometimes expects the player to be sitting for up to nearly ten minutes at a time, watching the story unfold like a movie, with little to no interaction.
Visually, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is very colorful and exciting. The cel-shaded graphics do an excellent job of capturing the aesthetic of the anime, really helping to bring the ninja world to life. Throughout the cutscenes and in-game environments, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 blends animated graphics with detailed illustration, providing a seamless picture that looks like it was taken straight from the anime.
Additionally, the animations of all the characters are very fluid and nice. General movement and specific fighting styles are all unique among characters and do an excellent job of giving each character personality. While the combat system itself is not remarkably deep, it still feels great to see and play as some of your favorite ninja, with most of the playable ninjas having their own unique style.
One thing about Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 that fails to impress is the multitude of mini-games and forgettable mechanics that the game tries to implement and then quickly discards.
The game does this multiple times with several different mechanics, introducing different mini-games that appear once in a level, never to make another appearance for the rest of the game. The fairly common introduction of insignificant mechanics lowered the game's overall quality for me, being a common but nonetheless painful mistake made by all sorts of games.
However, outside of the story mode, these mechanics are not present and do not affect the fun of the game's actual versus modes.
Aside from the story, there is also challenge missions which challenge the player to complete fights under certain conditions. Along with the multitude of unlockables, these challenge missions do a great job of adding to the game's replay value.
EDIT: Since beating the game's story mode about a week ago, I've played more of the challenge missions and done some of the side quests that are left over after the main story. They're actually really enjoyable and give you more opportunities to interact with your fellow ninjas, which is pretty cool. There's also a lot to explore - it surprised me how many places you can go after you finish the story! It does a great job of adding to the game's playability after the story mode! :D
Though Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 does nothing to revolutionize the fighting game genre, I highly recommend this game to fans of the series. Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 stands as a solid fighting game in its own right, but the greatest appeal it has to offer is the way it brings the beloved Naruto universe to life.