We received a quaint but utterly gorgeous press kit for Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja STORM 4 only yesterday, which is appropriate because the game has turned out to be stunning in points.
It's even taken me by surprise, despite the fact that I've tolerated the entirety of the anime, manga and the previous Ultimate Ninja STORM games.
I've been looking forward to Ninja STORM 4 because it's supposed to wrap up the main Naruto story, rather than trawling through some nonsense filler tournament as was the case with Ultimate Ninja STORM Revolution and that absurd Mecha-Naruto.
But Ninja STORM 4 doesn't mess around with that. It's all about wrapping up the main story, and just like the manga, that means big, flashy fights with gargantuan monsters.
You'll note that I said "at times" in the headlines, because not all of the animated sequences have the same sharpness or beauty as the full motion fights. A lot of times the anime throwbacks look washed out and blurry, and the resolution almost deliberately looks poor too.
It doesn't help that a lot of these sequences aren't animated either. They're still frames, which is an utter shame given how nice the cut-scenes rendered in-game look.
Fortunately, there's plenty of fighting to make up for the low-res flashbacks. It's all in 1080p on the PS4, fortunately, although the frame rate drops noticeably whenever there are a tonne of effects on screen (as is the case in the very first fight).
The menus and UI are nicely done as well, as you'll see below. And the mob battles have some nice effects and, at least in the ones I've fought so far, weren't beset with annoying FPS drops.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja STORM 4 won't be out until February 6, although if STORM 3 is any judge the PC might be the best platform. It's a stunner either way. I haven't made my mind on the revamped fighting system yet, but for now I'll just be enjoying, yelling and grinning at another dose of Kishimooto on my TV.