Speaking of things you've done and seen before, the gameplay remains unchanged from the last few Tenchu titles. Your goal is still to sneak up behind the bad guys and perform some sort of stealth kill without anybody else seeing you. You also have a few ninja accessories that you can use, such as throwing stars and a grappling hook. Along the way you will be able to pick up extra weapons left by the enemies, though most of the time you can take the baddies out with your default weapons.
Although the idea of a ninja game using the tried and true stealth mechanic is a good one, Tenchu Z's execution of this genre is so poor that sometimes I wondered why I was even bothering to hide out in the shadows. On the default difficulty you can literally run up to most enemies and get a stealth kill. Forget being quiet or coming from behind, Tenchu Z's enemies are apparently deaf and blind because you can run as fast as you want to and stealth kill them in front of their face. And best of all, if there are two enemies standing next to each other you can stealth kill one without the other even noticing. And if by chance the other character does notice you, all it takes is you running away for a few seconds to make him completely forget about you. That's right; the enemy is so stupid that he literally forgets that just seconds earlier his evil bad guy best friend was killed in front of his eyes! Yes, the AI is that stupid.
Of course, in most levels you don't even have to worry too much about killing the bad guys. I found that it was just as easy to run through most of the missions looking for that one big bad guy I was supposed to kill or that package I was supposed to find instead of taking each enemy out one by one. Most of the enemies don't give you chase and once you've found the big bad guy he's usually easy to defeat. Depending on how you play a lot of the levels will only take you a few minutes to beat, some taking less than a minute.
As you beat the levels you will be given ninja points that you can use to buy brand new ninja moves and ninja combos. Of course, these moves and combos end up being completely useless, and most people will be able to beat the game without a problem with just the original list of ninja moves given to your custom character. It would have been nice if From Software would have gone in and given us more incentive to buy these new attacks and combos, but alas, that part of the game (like every other aspect of the game) just feels half baked.
If, after you've beaten Tenchu Z, you still want to fight on and see what this game has to offer you can always take part in the online multiplayer modes. But don't get too excited, because the online game is all about playing through the same boring single-player experience with a second person. You might think that playing this with a second person would make the whole experience a lot less painful, but you would be wrong.
At this point it's almost not worth mentioning how disappointing the graphics are in Tenchu Z. From the enemies you fight to your hero's animation to the levels you play through again and again to the cinema scenes, the graphics are completely underwhelming every step of the way. Outside of the achievement points, there was no reason whatsoever for Microsoft to release this as an Xbox 360 title. As an Xbox game this might have been acceptable, but for a company trying their hardest to show the world how powerful their next generation hardware is, Microsoft really dropped the ball when it came to this game.
Tenchu Z proves that just because ninjas and video games are a perfect fit that doesn't mean that all ninja games are fun to play. With a bit more variety, better graphics, more interesting gameplay and an interesting story, Tenchu Z could have been something fun. As it is this game is completely average in every way. There's nothing about the game that stands out ... well, nothing except for the enemies you can run right up to and stealth kill. That's pretty memorable, but not in a good way. Let's hope that everybody involved with this project goes back to the drawing board and delivers us the true Tenchu sequel we all deserve.
More On:Tenchu Z
Are you a big fan of ninjas? Then crack out a copy of Ninja Gaiden, because Tenchu Z fails in every possible way. The graphics are terrible, the story is dull, the levels repeat too much, the enemies are stupid and, worst of all, the game is never fun to play. It's time for somebody to decide whether they are going to let Tenchu fade away or revive it with a real "next generation" sequel. Either way, it has to be better than this half-assed sequel!
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