Naruto: The Broken Bond - 360 - Review
It doesn’t seem that long ago that Ubisoft brought fans of the spiky-haired ninja one of the best Naruto games to grace a console. Naruto: Rise of a Ninja was not only a great Xbox 360 exclusive but it also did the popular Shonen Jump manga and anime series justice by allowing fans to experience and explore Naruto’s interesting world. Once again, we head back to the Hidden Leaf Village in Naruto: The Broken Bond for the Xbox 360.
THE RISE OF A YOUNG HERO.
Taking place directly after the events of Rise of a Ninja, The Broken Bond starts off covering the most interesting events that unfold after the death of the Hidden Leaf Village’s Hokage (which is a village chief) and leads up to one of the most intense story arcs that has anime and manga fans sitting on the edge of their seats. Interestingly enough, the game doesn’t begin with gamers playing as Naruto but rather we take control of the Third Hokage as he goes up against the villainous Orochimaru during the attack on the village that occurred at the ending of the last game.
When we do take control of Naruto during the game’s Story Mode, we follow him through the moments after the Hokage’s funeral as he is placed with the powerful (yet girl crazy) Master Jiraiya as his new mentor after a brief mission disables his fellow teammate and rival Sasuke. The main missions span a number of familiar storylines (such as the search for the new Hogake) but The Broken Bond focuses on the relationship between Naruto and Sasuke. In fact, their shaky relationship plays a big role in this game to the point that we get to see the events that lead up to a major confrontation through Sasuke’s eyes when we take control of him.
That’s right, Naruto fans. We get to take control of other familiar characters throughout The Broken Bond and, for the first time, team up with other characters. One of the many gripes fans had with Rise of a Ninja is that it seldom felt like you were part of a team when Naruto went on missions with his teammates. Here, the team aspect is played to good effect … especially during the Sasuke pursuit mission later in the game. Teaming up with a character allows you to switch to them via the D-pad. Aside from performing team-based attacks during combat, you can use a teammate to help solve puzzles. For example, Shikamaru uses a Jutsu called Shadow Possession that allows him to manipulate shadows that can either possess an opponent or get to those hard to reach places.
Unfortunately, the game offers no recaps or introductions to any of the characters. If you’re not familiar with the story then you won’t really appreciate the depth of the Naruto-Sasuke relationship. You see, when we do take control of Sasuke we do learn the basic facts such as the fact that he’s on a quest to kill his older brother for having murdered every member of their clan. While Sasuke is a talented and powerful ninja, even he could see that Naruto’s skills are increasing by leaps and bounds. When Sasuke becomes jealous of Naruto, he attacks him and later runs off to join the evil Orochimaru in search for more power. As Naruto and a team of other fellow ninja attempt to reach Sasuke before he makes contact with Orochimaru, we witness Sasuke’s fall to the dark side, so to speak.
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS.
Aside from the interesting team up with several sidekicks (that include everyone from Neji, Kiba and Choji), exploration is back. You’ll also find the return of side missions you can take on for money as well as hidden goodies you can look for along the way. You can also upgrade your character’s skills, including increase health and Chakra (what fuels your Jutsu abilities) as well as learn new Jutsu moves. Unfortunately, exploring the Leaf Village gets old really quickly this time around. Ubisoft really needs to add more interesting things to do aside from random fetch quests. Combat remains relatively the same as Rise of a Ninja with the exception that you can now use health items during battle and the Jutsu moves make a much bigger and more impressive impact that makes combat really enjoyable.
Speaking of enjoyable combat, Tournament Mode is back as well as Fight Mode that allows you to battle one-on-one or come up with your own two-man dream team. Fans will certainly enjoy creating some unlikely pairings offline as well as online via Xbox Live. There’s even a Dojo mode that allows you to practice each of the 30 different characters’ moves and Jutsu.
Visually, The Broken Bond looks good enough that it looks more like the anime than the first game. The in-game animation is smoother and it replaces footage from the show. This isn’t a bad thing considering the fact that the colors are more vibrant, the character models and backgrounds are slick and lovely and the visual effects practically light up the screen. Even the Hidden Leaf Village looks better than before.
THE SOUND OF BROKEN FRIENDSHIPS.
As far as the sound is concerned, the music is excellent thanks to the fact that the score comes directly from the show itself. The English dub voice cast is also present and, for the most part, they do a decent job of bringing each character to life. For my money, the Japanese voice cast is just far more superior but that’s just me and I’m glad they included the option. The sound effects are straight off the show as well.
Naruto: The Broken Bond for the Xbox 360 is yet another solid entry and an excellent sequel worth playing if you’re a Naruto fan or like a good fighting game. The new gameplay elements do add more to the experience and - despite a few weak spots - this sequel certainly has enough for fans to really sink their teeth into once again. This is definitely one Naruto game you will definitely want to buy, Xbox 360 owners.
Review Scoring Details for Naruto: The Broken Bond
There are enough Jutsu-filled battles in the game’s decent story mode and looking at one of the series’ most intense storylines through the eyes of Naruto’s former friend. Exploring the Leaf Village isn’t as fun as it was the first time around but there’s still plenty to see and do in this game.
Rise of a Ninja was a great-looking game but The Broken Bond sports smoother animation and a world that is a tad more detailed. You won’t find clips from the anime in this game so all the cut scenes are done with the in-game visuals and that’s not a bad thing at all.
The show’s music is back and it’s still just as good as the first time around and fans of the Japanese voice acting cast will be happy to find it here in this game (although, for my money, the English dub isn’t horrible). Even the sound effects seem to come straight from the show.
Naturally, the game gets more challenging the farther along you get in the game’s story mode so you will find plenty of tough battles along the way. The tag team element helps alleviate some of the more difficult battles (damn you again, Orochimaru).
The game’s single-player story mode covers one of the most intense story arc’s straight from the Naruto manga and anime. Looking at the situation through Sasuke’s fleshes out the story in ways that fans of the series will appreciate. The other fighting modes offer enough fighting fun to keep players busy as well.
With numerous characters to pick and team up with there is certainly no shortage of fun Naruto fans will have with the multiplayer fighting mode. Online, the game runs at a very steady framerate so fighting fans will find a good reason to play the game long after they finish the game’s single-player story mode.
If Naruto fans were looking for another reason to jump into the Hidden Leaf Village with their favorite orange ninja then look no further than Naruto: The Broken Bond. It’s a solid entry and an excellent sequel to a great game and - despite a few issues - it’s looking like this is a good year for Naruto and fighting game fans.