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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action / Stealth

 

Publisher

Microsoft

 

Developer

From Software

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

June 2007

 

 

- No lousy voice acting; all the original Japanese dialogue is included

- Ninja customization options

- Really satisfying stealth kills

 

 

- Setting up for stealth kills can take a long time

- Limited and stiff combos for stand-up fights

- Flat and drab visuals

- Crippling lag during multiplayer games

- Repetitive mission goals

 

 

Review: Otogi 2: Immortal Souls (XB)

Review: Ninja Gaiden Black (XB)

Review: Rainbow Six Vegas (360)

Review: Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Wii)

 

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Tenchu Z

Score: 6.0 / 10

 

Tenchu Z is one of those games that despite itís many flaws Ė repetitive mission goals, flat visual style, and control inconsistencies Ė somehow manages to hold some interest for fans of action/stealth games because itís demanding of both patience and skill.

 

tenchu z          tenchu z

 

Developer From Software typically produces bombastic displays of light, like the Otogi games, so itís somewhat disappointing for Tenchu Z to be so uninteresting to look at.  There are the small touches to appreciate such as swaying weeds but the varying set pieces Ė a small Japanese village, a cave, a shipping dock, a forest, etc, Ė lack any kind of impact other than complete understatement, which means thereís a lot of gray and shades of brown.

 

The drab color scheme means more places to hide in shadows, away from patrolling foes, sniffing dogs, and trip lines that alert foot soldiers to your

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position.  As a ninja, hiding the in the shadows or crouching on rooftops in order to get the drop on an unsuspecting foe conveys a great sense of accomplishment because getting into the proper position takes so long.  And itís a good thing because these stealth attacks necessarily need to be repeated ad infinitum through the course of 

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each and every level with only a few exceptions, like when someone needs to be tailed without being seen or when all that needs to happen is to cross a bridge.

 

A cash amount is awarded at the conclusion of each tightly focused level on the basis of difficulty level, number of detections, etc.  In turn, this cash can be used buy upgrades in both abilities and outward customization. (The drab stock ninja at the beginning of the game can be modified quite a bit, including a day-glow haircut.)  Aside from the skills, the character customization doesnít have any practical applications except for providing a way to tell characters apart while playing with up to three other players over Xbox Live (which only differentiates itself from the single player game in the awful amount of lag that seems to plague multiplayer).

 

tenchu z          tenchu z

 

Due to the anemic manual, in-game pick-ups are a complete mystery until itís picked up and used.  The grappling hook is a stock item, but items such as dumplings, smoke bombs, and throwing stars that can be purchased or picked-up during a level are given no description whatsoever.  The only way to find a use for each item is to actually try it.  More often than not this will bring the attention of the foot patrols.  With the element of stealth gone thereís no ability to inflict one-hit kills.  It turns into a stand-up fight which is likely the weakest part of Tenchu Z.

 

Unlike the latest Ninja Gaiden games, Tenchu Z feels almost turn-based during fights.  More often than not it turns into a button-mashing affair to execute very limited and stiff combos.  It's easier to just run like hell the other way and find a place to hide until the heat dies down.

 

As a stealth game, Tenchu Z hits the right notes with all the creeping around and silent killing, so it'll likely offer a few thrills for fans of the genre.  But since it lacks useful "stand-up and fight" mechanics any casual players will likely suffer boredom with all the careful sneaking around through drab environments.

 

- Omni

(July 6, 2007)

 

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