Tenchu: Fatal Shadows

Review

posted 2/28/2005 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PS2
Actually, you won’t need to use much stealth, either. The AI is so poor that most of the time you can run right up behind them and just get the stealth kill, I found that they rarely heard me even though I was running right at them. And while you are rewarded for performing these specialized kills, most of the levels are so simple you can run right through them without worrying about stealth at all. This doesn’t make the game bad, but there were a few times when it seemed a little too easy.

The game is split up into twelve different levels, switching off between Ayame and Rin. The story starts with the clichés right away as you’re thrown into dealing with a village that is being burned down. As luck would have it, this was Rin’s village, and she seeks revenge on whoever was responsible. Ayame, on the other hand, was just passing through, so her story is more of a mystery for much of the game. After meeting each other they go their separate ways, which fills in quite a bit of the story and introduces all of the characters we’ll be seeing in the rest of the adventure.

Although this Tenchu spends more time developing characters, the story never feels fully developed and you often feel like you’re just being strung along from one event to another. After the game is over there isn’t a sense of accomplishment, and when you think about it, the story is really very shallow. Fans of the series will likely be interested in learning about these ninjas, but most of the story is pulled down by hammy dialogue and bad voice acting.

The bosses are oddly underwhelming, too. Except for a giant bear you have to deal with early on, the bosses of Fatal Shadows are all about the same size as you are. I suppose it would be unrealistic to have huge characters or what we found in Ninja Gaiden, but it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between the usual enemy and the bosses in this game. They are also extremely easy; most can be defeated by simply bashing on the buttons and repeating the same combos.

The hand to hand combat is a mess, something that should have been addressed long ago. Your character doesn’t track the enemy, so you will occasionally start throwing punches at the air leaving yourself open to all kinds of damage. If you do hit your enemy your moves are extremely limited, so most of the time you just hit the same button over and over. I suppose the hand to hand stuff is secondary in a stealth game, but that doesn’t mean it should be completely ignored.

The graphics look much like the previous PlayStation 2 installment, Wrath of Heaven, with only a few minor tweaks here and there. This is simply not a very good looking game, and tends to look extremely rough around the edges when you compare it to other stealth games like Splinter Cell or Metal Gear Solid 3. One of the problems I kept having was that the game often seemed too dark, making it extremely difficult to see the characters and enemies. With some practice (and fiddling with the TV brightness) I trained my eyes to see in the pitch black, but the game seemed too dark for its own good.
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