Review by jennafaith1

"Tenchu Z takes the series online, but does little else."

Tenchu is by far the most "cult" game there is. Tenchu has never really gained the popularity of Metal Gear or Splinter Cell although I would argue that it is better than both. Well, Tenchu Z might just make me change my tune. Tenchu Z is the newest member of the Tenchu franchise and while it presents solid fun; it lacks any innovation, delivers the bare minimum, and fails to attract a new audience.

STORY 6/10: Tenchu games usually have good storylines and Tenchu Z presents the classic ninja formula. You are a ninja that belongs to the Azuma ninja clan. You take your orders from Rikkimaru, the protagonist of past Tenchu games, and perform different missions. There are about 50 solo missions that can be taken online. Along the way, you uncover a plot to destroy the newfound peace that Lord Goda has established. It's a decent story although there are no real touching moments or plot twists.

GRAPHICS 6/10: Here we are on the Xbox 360 and well.... we really have nothing to show for it. Tenchu Z's graphics are functional and nothing else. To tell you the truth, the game is a small step from the graphics in Tenchu 3. The character models are decent but not impressive. The facial animations are using ancient programing, and all the guards still act like robots. They follow a path and simply have no expressions or lifelike movements. Quite frankly, Tenchu Z really doesn't really make any bold graphical ventures in any shape or form. That aside, you are now able to see quite far into the horizon. Everything is clear and there is little to no breakup. There are a few small glitches here and there but it is really nothing but solid programing. However, Tenchu still lacks that smooth animation that one would expect in a next-gen title. The framerate is still at 30 choppy frames per second(and if it is running at 60 fps, it sure doesn't look like it.) HD TV's really improve the clarity of the game but you will never get truly smooth gameplay. If there is one positive side to Tenchu's graphics, it's the character creation system. You can customize your ninja pretty well and achieve the perfect look pretty easily. Overall, Tenchu Z presents clear graphics, but not good graphics.

MUSIC/SOUND 6/10: The opening song in Tenchu Z is great but it all ends there. Music during gameplay is more lame flutes with little rhythm or inspiration. I've said it before and I have to repeat it. Tenchu Stealth Assassins on playstation 1 still has the best music! Tenchu Z never even approaches the awesome soundtrack that was "stealth assassins." However, the flat music fits the game pretty well. When you are spotted, the music changes to a more upbeat tune but it is simply nothing impressive. The soundeffects are as plain as the rest of the game. Standard sword slashes and japanese dialog. The sound department of Tenchu delivers the bare minimum. The sound and ambiance is simply standard and doesn't even try to impress.

GAMEPLAY 7/10: The gameplay in Tenchu Z is slow, but fun. I would compare it to playing a Splinter Cell game. It's precise and requires patience. It is simply a slow paced game that emphasizes planning. Stalking and situational awareness are the name of the game in Tenchu. There is simply something awesome about sneaking up on someone and delivering the perfect kill. The stealth kills are decent but never really make you feel sorry for the victim. Tenchu 3 and Tenchu Fatal Shadows, both had better kills. However, the stealth kills can now be chained together to create this dance of death where you can clear a room in seconds. Sneaking around has been improved. You now have to watch how much noise you make and how much blood is on your clothes because people and animals can smell you. These are pretty cool concepts that add a bit of fresh air into the formula. However, the AI is simply the worst it's ever been. You can be detected, run around a corner and the enemies will simply quit in about ten seconds. They will not come around the corner or call for back-up, nothing. This is the HARD mode?? You can mess up quite a bit and still accomplish your mission pretty easily. The boss fights are quite hard unless you exploit your techniques. You can parry attacks and then counter, which is the strategy that works best. Trying other techniques is risky since you most likely increased your speed and strength attributes at the cost of your life bar. However, it's classic Tenchu all the way. Sneak up, kill, and disappear. Your progression through the game unlocks special techniques and weapons. You can customize your ninja and the weapons and techniques you use. This is the best aspect of Tenchu Z. Going online, seeing the different ninja combinations people made and doing cooperative missions is a lot of fun.

FUNFACTOR 7/10: Tenchu Z is a mediocre game, but it will still be fun for fans of the series. Newcomers should really rent this one first and see if it's their speed. Customizing your ninja and going online is the best aspect of Tenchu. The game is truly a fun game to play if you accept it's bland presentation. However, it is very disappointing to see that Tenchu really doesn't try to win over any new players. It's a fun game for ninja fanatics. Everyone else should set their expectations low and keep an open mind.

REPLAY 6/10: Replaying missions can increase your rank and give you more gold for upgrades and equipment. Maybe you enjoy achieving perfect kills? That's the main reason to replay missions. The online community of Tenchu is pretty dedicated but it is too soon to tell if this will continue. Tenchu Z is a budget game that could get old quickly.

OVERALL 6/10: The Tenchu series has seen better days. Tenchu Z unfortunately preaches to the converted. It is a game for true fans of the series. It's mediocre presentation and snail paced gameplay will really have a hard time converting anyone to the Tenchu cult. True fans will really enjoy Tenchu Z. Everyone else should try it but ,"remember to tread carefully."

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 06/15/07

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