Review by horror_spooky
"Just like a blind date...Tenchu Z is ugly and boring"
I actually had hope for this title. The Xbox 360 seems to be plagued with mediocre games (though it is struck by gems every once in a while), and I really thought Tenchu Z would have been different. I mean, you get to make your own freaking ninja! However, despite my hopes and beliefs, after playing the game, I found Tenchu Z to be a shallow, below average gaming experience.
Right when you start the game, you are able to customize your very own ninja. I was somewhat impressed with customization process, though it's not as elaborate as that of Oblivion. It's also somewhat weird that most of the outfits available right off the bat are the exact opposite of stealth, the type of genre the game claims its fame to. Seriously, brightly colored komodos basically make up your ninja wardrobe. You also get the chance to customize your partner character, though they really don't play a very important role in the game at all. Your partner seems to have better clothing that seem to fit the occupation of being ninja, though it is pretty funny dressing them up in something totally designed after American clothing lines and made up to resemble garments from ancient Japan.
After completing your customization process, you are thrust into a tutorial, which actually creates the illusion that Tenchu Z might actually be a good game. I admit, I did have fun during this tutorial, though the controls are somewhat confusing and poorly mapped-out. However, the game really gets across everything you'll need to know to play the game and manages to actually make it fun, something most games fail horribly at doing.
Like I mentioned earlier, the game tries to focus on stealth. As such, there are some pretty sweet stealth kills that you can pull off on enemies. However, there isn't a wide variety of stealth kills that are available to you (even after you purchase all the possible ones from the shop later on) and watching the same ones over and over gets extremely repetitive. Honestly, you'd think the developers could've put in some more time to give the game some more elaborate ways to pick off your foes.
However, it seems like playing the game stealthily is totally and completely optional. Your ninja can jump very high, meaning that if you are ever seen by enemies (something that's nearly impossible to avoid), you can simply retreat to a roof and wait them out. Either that or simply run away from them, because if you are more than five feet in front of your foes, they stand around bewildered, looking out for signs of you. Honestly, this can lead to some very funny situations, but it does take most, if not all, of the challenge out of the title.
If my review hasn't convinced you not to play this game as of yet, you probably remember that I mentioned purchasing skills earlier. Yes, there is a shop where you can buy various items, including the usual ninja weapons, like shuriken, slightly less annoying clothes for your ninja, and skills. However, it's pretty hard to build up gold in Tenchu Z in order to purchase these items. This is mostly because if you do poorly in a mission, the game actually DOCKS your amount of gold! This is very, very irritating!
Basically, to choose a mission to undertake in, you are in a small area with two small huts (one is the shop, and the other hut is where you go to your mission map). I would like to note that the graphics in this area, for some reason, were way worse compared to the rest of the game (though the graphics throughout the rest of the game really aren't that great at all except for the water graphics, those were amazing). There are about fifty missions for you to partake in, but you will get bored way before you reach number fifty, I promise you.
Tenchu Z has multiplayer modes, but, sadly, they are only available via Xbox LIVE or system link! I have no idea why a developer would make a game for a console and not allow the multiplayer to be played without all the extra stuff! I'm getting really sick of games constantly having no offline multiplayer. There is no excuse for it, and it's just plain laziness on the part of developers.
The story that is somewhat, but not really, told throughout the game is very bland, and the game just throws you into it with very little background. You can hardly consider it a story. Hell, Guitar Hero had a better story than Tenchu Z does! If you are a gamer who thinks the story is the main thing, I strongly recommend that you stay as far away from Tenchu as you possibly can.
Like I mentioned earlier, most of the graphics in Tenchu Z are pretty horrible. There are constantly graphical glitches, nearly all the enemies look identical, sometimes the character's mouths don't even move when they're talking, and the environment looks bland and ignored. It almost felt like I was playing a game on the PlayStation 2, and I would've been able to believe that if it hadn't been for the fact that the water graphics were so amazing, coupled with the fact that some of the cut-scenes had some very amazing graphics as well, on par with most RPGs.
Thankfully, I don't have much to complain about when it comes to Tenchu's audio department. However, I do have some stuff to complain about. For example, the game is played with total Japanese voice-overs, which becomes extremely aggravating and even gave me a headache! All the sound effects seem to hold up well, though I felt that the background music could have been much, much more.
Replayability? Are you freaking kidding me? If, by some very odd chance, you like this game, I really doubt even you would find much to do in the game after it is completed or even BEFORE it is completed! It would take a very persistent gamer in order to actually make it through the entirety of Tenchu Z. And I mean VERY persistent. I guess you may, if you're lucky, find some entertainment messing around on multiplayer modes, but even that will grow old after a very short while.
Tenchu Z could've been great, but failed in so many places. For a game that really doesn't have much to offer, the graphics could have been so much better. The developers could've added English voice-overs to make the game more appealing to the American market, there could've been cooler and more original ways to make your kills, a larger weapon variety would've been nice, and offline multiplayer would've made the game so much better. If there is a sequel to Tenchu Z, I would gladly play it, as long as my previous demands were met in full.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 09/04/07
Game Release: Tenchu Z (US, 06/12/07)
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