Quite obviously CyberConnect2 wants to show off, perhaps due to the small anniversary that the developer is celebrating: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution is the tenth console game based on the popular anime and manga series.
In the title there'll be over 100 playable ninjas, some created exclusively for the game. There's video footage from three anime episodes, the combat system has been completely revised and there's new techniques and modes. The combat system especially, is being pulled closer to what we expect from a Tekken or Soul Calibur release.
The games have already been relatively complex in terms of their combat systems. However, the balance between the characters, and various techniques, were not always ideal. So now there is an attack to break your opponent's defence, as well as a counter attack.
For the latter, we must observe our opponents very carefully, but we can put them out of action for a while if we are successful. There's also a Storm Bar to unlock 'super attacks'. What these are depends on the selected game type. There are three types, and they're the heart of the new combat system. Depending on whether we opt for Ultimate Jutsu, Drive or Awakening, we have access to different attacks and techniques.
Ultimate Jutsu can be used solo or in combination with certain ninjas in the team. If our Chakra bar reaches a certain level, there are two button combinations to activate the Ultimate Jutsu or the Team-Ultimate Jutsu. For visual style alone, the Awakening super attack is the most spectacular - and it's also available in two different versions, Awakening and True Awakening. Activation of either changes your fighting style, and in certain situations it's even possible to transform ourselves into a gigantic character.
Only the Drive type is based on fighting with a supporting partner. We use our partner for either attack or defence, and we decide whether we want manual control or to keep things on automatic (though the latter consumes significantly more Chakra). Its super attack is the Attack Seal Barrier, which allows us to seal off our opponent's special techniques for a limited time.
Each type has pros and cons, and depends on personal preference. Though how fair and balanced the design is is something we couldn't clarify due to our relatively short hands-on session with the title. In any case, repeated play is needed to master the respective techniques.
Regarding the story, we're taking a break from the Fourth Shinobi World War. As part of the Ninja World Tournaments we learn everything about the history of the Akatsuki - Naruto Shippuden : Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution explains where the group comes from and how it was built by Pain and Konan. That story is, as usual, told between fights. This new storyline will be integrated into the gameplay and gives us the opportunity to be part of the origins of the Akatsuki.
Lots of the infamous gang members such as Sasori and Kakuzu get new outfits, designed by series creator Masashi Kishimoto, and there's a brand new character in the form of Mecha Naruto, who's equipped with weapons. The visuals have been improved, though may be hard to spot - the game series has always been beautiful to look at.
New to the game is a Four Ninja Brawl variant, in which we compete against three other ninjas. These fights are only part of the solo campaign - so we compete against three AI-controlled opponents.
This is due to the fact that the fights are specifically tied to the plot. But for the future there is a legitimate hope we'll see the same game appear in multiplayer. For now, it has to be enough that there are four independent characters in the arena together, and on top of that we also get several team combinations that leads to particularly powerful attacks.
Of course Naruto Shippuden : Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution doesn't reinvents the wheel. But nobody expects this and no-one wants that either. However, the team has actually made some good decisions on keeping the series exciting, beyond the reunion with Naruto and his friends.