I'm about half way through the story mode, I've jumped online a few times now, and though I haven't finished it I'm too eager to review this game!
*UPDATED AFTER COMPLETION ON THE BOTTOM*
If you loved Ultimate Ninja 2 you'll love 3. I didn't care for generations, though it has Generations character selection. I feel the dodge moves work better in this game compared to generations, though it still has the 4 log limit (I think it refills a little slower).
I stopped reading the Manga after the Paine fight because of how well Ninja Storm 2 presented it. So Ninja Storm 3 is my only way to take in the story... and I am very satisfied with that. It has some dumb fights in the story mode, some of those "I can't let you do that" "Try to stop me!" fights, but for the most part everything feels relavent.
There are 87 characters total I think. If you remove the Assist-Only characters (brought back from 1) and the doubles/triples for character with multiple forms (even though each plays very uniquely) you have about 75 characters. Not a number to complain about. Everyone is here.
The story mode is a combination of 1 and 2 - the world is rendered in 3d and has more of an adventuring feel, but it's not fully accessible like in 1 or the x-box games, lots of areas feel like the pre-rendered backgrounds of 2.
There is a small beat'em-up style mode in some areas that works surprisingly well. The only thing I could really compare it to is Tekken 6's battle mode, and it's definitely better than that.
My only complaints are - the camera angles are stupid. Early in the game you'll do a scene transition by walking off camera, and the next angle you see there is a long path behind you with people doing things. So your natural reaction is to walk toward those people- nope, that sends you back to the area you just came from. You have to walk toward the camera to continue on in the new area. I saw this 2-3 times so far in the game. It's a little silly, but something easily fixed with a patch.
The 3d is horrible. It reminds me of Sly Cooper Thieves in Time (which is a game I loved). If you have a 3d TV don't be excited to play this game in 3d. It is the most subtle effect even if you max out depth. The game just has a general 'blur' that doesn't justify the drop in contrast or resolution.
Otherwise perfect. Online is the same as the other games - most player like to stand still blocking the whole time, spam assists and grab moves, and hit you with an ultimate jutsu instead of actually moving and fighting. At least I didn't experience any lag :) I also feel the game makes that strategy a little less useful...
Just beat the game yesterday. I'll let it retain its 5 star review but I wasn't nearly as happy with the ending as I was with Ninja Storm 2. Without giving anything away I would simply argue that the presentation of these final fights becomes redundant instead of satisfying. They use much less quick-time style events which are generally the highlight of Ninja Storm bosses and instead have you doing up to 10 minute fights (due to the circumstances) followed by a 3-5 move quicktime event - instead of having those strung throughout the fights. It feels more like a way for the game maximize its time than relevant combat, and it becomes a battle of being overly cautious because for the last 30-40 minutes of the game they don't give you an opportunity to heal yourself between fights yet set the bar at "Keep your health above X" for each one.
Aside from the final fight though I was pretty satisfied. this was sort of the Metal Gear solid 4 of Naruto games in terms of cut-scenes, to the point that some felt silly. again, I've never watched the Anime so I have no idea if they pulled those scenes straight from it or what.
The game is massive though. After beating it the post-game begins and you realize how much is left. There is a Ninja Timeline you work on throughout the game. Most exceptional 'important' battles will reword you with events from the previous 2 games which you can then go and play through. In addition there are epilogue events you can earn by collecting enough Chakra fragments (I haven't unlocked them yet, but it sounds like it'll be a chore).
Great game. I'm planning on getting a platinum in it but I guess that'll take me another 10 hours (the game is about 10 hours long at base) - after Chapter 5 you start flying through them so don't let the length of those first few throw you off).
And obviously I'm excited for Ninja Storm 4, which I'm guessing will be the last game. Maybe it'll be a PS4 release so there can be better Anti-aliasing :D