Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections: Review
This game was reviewed on PC.
Reviewed by: Nikola Hristov
Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections, much like its four predecessors in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series, pays a comprehensive tribute to the rich world and characters crafted by Masashi Kishimoto. The game boasts an expansive roster of playable characters, each featuring exceptionally well-animated movesets. Furthermore, the inclusion of numerous maps directly lifted from the anime, rendered with meticulous attention to detail, enhances the visual experience to a level unparalleled in the series. Despite these visual and nostalgic triumphs, the game grapples with significant drawbacks. The sheer magnitude of playable content and source material accuracy cannot rescue the title from its glaring flaws. The single-player mode, in particular, falls prey to hollowness, lacking the depth and engagement expected from a game of this magnitude. Moreover, the combat system, while visually unchanged and polished, remains stale and without any evolution for the past 15 years.
The game features an extensive roster of 130 playable characters, though the abundance is marred by numerous duplicates and limited representation from Boruto. Character selection based on playstyle takes a back seat to personal preferences from the show, leaving the impressive roster feeling somewhat barren for fans. The lack of diversity in playstyles further hinders the experience, with interchangeable voice lines and models contributing to a sense of monotony. However, the game shines in resource management and strategic play, requiring players to judiciously utilize chakra for special techniques and manage a limited substitution gauge. Despite these tactical elements adding depth to the combat, the overall experience falls short of its billing as a definitive celebration of the Naruto series, leaving fans disappointed. However, the game introduces a Simple control mode to streamline combat, catering to those seeking a more accessible fighting system. This mode allows characters to autonomously execute actions with a single button press, making it ideal for fans of the show less interested in traditional fighting game mechanics. While this feature is customizable to determine the level of automation, it falls short of challenging experienced players. The online play experience varies based on internet connections, as the game opts for a peer-to-peer connection instead of the more common rollback netcode, potentially leading to less reliable online interactions. Despite this, the multiplayer options showcase a commendable range of features, including various opponent rating systems and safeguards against disconnections and toxic behavior, contributing to a positive online environment in a genre often plagued by negativity.
Ninja Storm Connections also disappoints in its single-player story options. The History Mode attempts to recount Naruto's journey from childhood to Naruto Shippuden but falls short with poorly executed cutscenes in the form of stills from the anime. The game's attempt to condense complex story arcs into 40-minute chapters results in repetitive battle objectives and limited side challenges. The decision to focus on a side adventure within 'Ninja Heroes,' an in-universe video game, feels like a missed opportunity to delve into Boruto's narrative. This mode turns into an online multiplayer gathering, reminiscent of Fortnite but centered around Naruto characters, deviating from the main storyline and contributing to the overall letdown of the single-player experience.
Overall, Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections could have executed its single-player story content much better than it did, because in its current state it's incredibly boring and unrewarding, making it unworthy of anyone's time. Multiplayer-wise, though the mechanics are the same as previous titles, the wide-array of characters and popularity of the franchise are enough to keep it alive in the PvP scene, for the foreseeable future.
Reviewed by: Nikola Hristov