Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2

Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2

With Naruto: Rise of a Ninja on the way for Xbox 360 next month and Ultimate Ninja games making the rounds, Naruto fans already have their hands full. However, that didn't stop Namco Bandai from releasing Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2 this week for the PlayStation 2. Too bad—despite the promise of what's been shown, this second chapter is too repetitive to enjoy.

In the game, players control Naruto and other various members of his ninja clan as they set out to complete a series of scatterbrained tasks, eventually leading to a showdown with a shadowy group known as the Shirogane Clan. They want to resurrect a dark figure known as the Master Puppet, a devastating "puppet of all puppets". As they venture on their quest to stop this evil creature, they battle countless other foes, including thugs, robots and, yep, more evil puppets.

This would be great if the game had any kind of appealing factor (other than the license), but Cavia didn't put a lot of effort into it. The animations look average at best and there are no stunning designs worth mentioning. The audio is what you might expect, jam-packed with blaring voicework from the anime actors and a pretty average soundtrack.

Even if the game had a better presentation, that still wouldn't make up for the tired gameplay. The brawling action consists of mindless button mashing that gets old quick. Despite a few special abilities and the option to fight alongside (or against) a friend in two-player combat, it feels uninspired. Even switching off to other characters in the Naruto lexicon does little to boost the game's appeal.

What's an even bigger waste is the power-up system. Over the course of the game, players can earn chips and boost their attributes, making themselves a more powerful ninja warrior and increasing their health and Chakra (magic power). It's actually a neat system, but when coupled with stale gameplay, it does little to enhance the game.

If you like the first game, you might have a good time with Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2. Otherwise, like the original, it's really only worth a rental. Play it for a bit and get that puppet-beating obsession out of your system.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.