Naruto Online review
Do we dare enter the realm of Naruto? Do we dare criticise and analyze the untouchable? Your damn right we do…bring on thee Naruto Online review!
Naruto Online at a first glance it looks like another ‘run-of-the-mill’ MMORPG, simply fishing for players on its title alone without any care to its source material. But that is where you would be wrong.
Something that does make this game stand out to the many cheap imitations on the internet is that, not only is it co-developed by CyberConnect2 (Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm titles) It’s also officially licensed by Bandai Namco. This means no pallet swaps, accurate lore and full range of the ‘Naruto’ universe
But with no further introduction, let’s get to the review.
The controls are nothing special, anyone who has played a MMORPG will understand it immediately, and for the newer players the learning curve takes a matter of seconds. It primarily uses the mouse and keyboard system, click on desired location to travel there, click on skills to activate them or use the keyboard shortcut (singular key). It allows for the players to chat to others and still not feel over done with trying to navigate to it.
Visuals and Presentation
The visuals for the game are both exactly what one would expect for a ‘free–to-play‘ online game. The user interface looks simple enough all while keeping the ‘theme’ of the Naruto universe, however an argument could be made that it looks to ‘generic’. Personally I think it works and hasn’t gone too far in trying to be ‘different’, but rather, stayed at a safe expectation.
The background and ‘effects’ strike me as beautifully draw but standard, the game world offer enough details to look like a real explorable place, however there were no areas I wanted to stay and enjoy, compared to elder games such as ‘Adventure Quest Worlds’ it is boring and ‘good enough’ to be used. The effects are flashy and match to show the type of abilities, for example blue sea-like wave will crash for watery. Like most games It works well to demonstrate each characters attack, for example Naruto’s shadow clone produces a sort of smoke cloud and Sasuke’s Chidori produces blue lighting.
This all being said, considering the game has the official licences and has the approval of Bandai Namco and Shonen Jump. The game could have had much bigger visual appeal, especially since its 2013 Development, a new engine such as Unity could have really helped. But I’m not a developer and I’m sure there are many players happy with its look. It’s just a shame that CyberConnect2, who have demonstrated many times, that they are capable for bigger visuals, but of course that’ll mean a bigger budget for the game to begin with.
Gameplay and Features
When you start the game you are dropped into the action instantly, with little to no introductions or tutorials. You are informed by a mission list, to the side of the screen that you are to head into the town of Kohana. Without wanting to spoil the story, you are tasked with missions, which hinge on you going to a set location, talking or meeting someone then going off to complete said missions elsewhere or you may well find yourself doing a spot of fighting.
The battles themselves are usually 3v3 and set in a grid style, most of the time, though, the gameplay simply seems to play out the encounter itself, occasionally the player may be tasked with using the hotkeys to perform an ability in order to turn the battle into something more than the merely the same set moves being played out time and again.
Personally, I didn’t find the battles difficult either, but they are long enough to make it all seem as if I was at risk which, later into the game, I was when it gradually became more challenging. Another part of the battle system and main gameplay is the choice of characters for your team, fans of the series will try and pair cannon teams together, such as Kakashi and Guy, but I noticed that the game offers the best choices so did not feel any compulsion to delve into dabbling with selection too deeply, which I found very helpful.
Going on this may sound very repetitive, and honestly it is. I am a fan of Naruto and I was enjoying seeing the familiar characters and seeing how they affect the story, but I tried to distance myself from that, as if I have never heard of Naruto and I found it difficult to play more than two hours without becoming bored, but of course this game has its primary audience being Naruto fans so that point can easily be argued. However my main complaint would be the game offers ‘auto-play’, which to me cuts all involvement with the player and indirectly encourages them to focus on something else, from a video on YouTube or even another game.
The game slowly introduces new features that don’t feel forced, not at one point did I feel overwhelmed or frustrated with the new menus I was introduced to. These features are the usually upgrades to your character and your party, combat and equipment. Luckily Naruto Online offered constant guidance and reminders how to use these features.
If anything I wish there was more to the battle system, perhaps allow an option to use ninjitsu (magic), or maybe allow the player to be able to defend or block, or possibly even use an item such as a shuriken. But this would take away the ‘live’ battle and make it a turn based. Another point is that the travel to each mission is rather dull. Most of the time I use auto-follow and I had no urge to explore to find side-quests.
Story & Audio
When the game first starts you are offered a choice of five completely different characters, each based on a (Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, and Lighting)
The quests and scenarios are mainly from the first two seasons of the anime/manga, with very minor changes to accompany the player, which I understand; unfortunately my character cannot affect the story in anyway, besides progressing it. While it is nice to see your character work with Naruto, it doesn’t feel very personal. It’s just another Naruto character instead of ‘yourself’, I lacked the emersion into the story because of this, and because I and many other players are fans, the story wasn’t very surprising. It had little in it to really grab my attention, and give myself ( and other Naruto fans alike ), the desire for deeper involvement.
The dialogue is short but is just long enough to explain what is happening and what players need to do next, which I don’t mind so much, but I can imagine many players would have rather had full dialogue so they get the full story and feeling behind the games plot.
The audio for the story works well. The characters have some lines which help the game flow nicely and the music aids the gameplay to keep the player entertained in the quieter parts.
There is very little customization to offer. The player is able to collect items such as goggles but it doesn’t change the players character cosmetically, rather just perks or additional stats. This causes many servers to have players running around with exactly the same clothes and character, cutting the emersion completely.
The community seems pretty good, I could see in the chat people having fun, talking about their favourite Naruto moments or asking to join parties and play with others, even forming friendships. I see little to none negativity from the community and that is very rare for MMORPJ’s, it was a refreshing outlook to online players and how people can work together (trading, tips, etc.) The PVP (player vs player) isn’t bad, it allows for a healthy challenge and fun battling others or friends alike.
The game overall falls to the same class as all the other MMORPJ games on the internet, however it is able to capture a very core audience of players because of its title and licences, and luckily those two parts save it. Without those I don’t see it being as popular as it is. If you are a Naruto fan then you would have fun for a while but eventually become tiresome and may leave the game, non-fans may see some enjoyment but many won’t bother or even know of the game. Die-hard Naruto fans however will be sure to love this for what it is and play it until the end.
FORMAT: Windows PC ( browser )
PUBLISHER: Bandai Namco
Pricing at Launch: n/a Free 2 Play