Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven

March 12, 2003

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/tenchu/cover.jpg[/floatleft]I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of Tenchu (which from this point will be referred to as the “Chu”). When March hit and the flood of anticipated games began pouring in; ‘Chu was at the top of my list to pick up. Having played the previous two versions of the game, I really wanted to see how the game would transfer to the next-gen consoles and the new opportunities that technology may have opened up for this sneaker.

I apologize in advance if I repeatedly compare this game to the previous games in the series; you will find out why here if you keep reading. The graphics in this game are on par with any PS2 game. What I mean by that is the character models and scenery are modeled nicely; however the textures on just about everything look terrible. The game takes place at night so the darkness covers up the textures nicely. A great deal of clipping occurs in the game. As you sneak near walls your arm will go through it and when you perform your stealth kills you will often thrust your entire forearm into a person. I am a huge stickler for presentation and ‘Chu does deliver overall, however with the technology that the developers are allowed to toy with; you would think that these issues would be solved or at least not happen as much as they do in this game.

Here we go with the comparisons. The sound in ‘Chu is taken EXACTLY from the original game. The soundtrack sounds almost exactly like Tenchu Stealth Assassins. I didn’t really notice at first, but even when you meet the first boss he breaks out with “Looks like you picked the wrong party to crash” right before you kick his ass. I shook my head in disbelief at this. The developers could have done it because they wanted to touch on some nostalgia from the original Tenchu, but when the whole fucking game mimics Tenchu 1, then it gets fucking lazy…dammit.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/tenchu/ss04_thumb.jpg[/floatright]Control for the new ‘Chu was really the only aspect of the game that improved. As far as the fighting control you are now able to lock onto an enemy and circle him. In this mode you can block, attack, as well as dodge his attacks with a well placed sidestep. You will need this mode for the bosses. For some reason your character always walks up to the boss of a level and fights him head on, as opposed to killing him stealth-like as he did with the guards…I guess ninjas like challenges?

The best overall control aspect was the changes with the camera. If you leave the camera at default with out screwing with it you will become frustrated with the camera demons that do appear. There are a few annoying situations when it comes to the camera. For instance, when you come to a ledge the camera will default to a down angle to let you look what’s under the ledge. This can be a problem when you need to make a gap jump or want to scout an area via rooftop. Another issue is with cornering. Do not get cornered into a wall or the camera will freak when it tries to get behind you and has no room.

The challenge in Tenchu has always been tough. This remains true as the levels themselves are set up to make you really scout. Each level has three different layouts to master, each of course, getting progressively harder with more enemies in more strategic positions. That may be the only hard thing in the game; the bosses do not require much effort if you use the combos you acquire throughout the game. The guards couldn’t be freaking stupider. The AI is mind-boggling! A guard can sit and watch a fellow guard killed horribly then after about two seconds give up on finding who did it. Personally I think he should call for help or sound an alarm.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/tenchu/ss05_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]I personally owned this game for less than a week. I think the developers dropped the ball severely in the series and took a step backwards. They negated all the cool things you could do in Tenchu 2 such as drag bodies and stay underwater. Additionally the “power of the PS2” is put to the test when multiple enemies attack. The game will slow to almost a stop. Tenchu 3 is really an exact copy of Tenchu 1 only with better graphics. To be honest I would recommend picking this up as a rental if you have never played any of the Tenchu games because they are very cool games. However if you have played previous installments or hate sneakers then don’t even bother as it brings absolutely nothing new to the table other than frustration and loading times.

Score: 2/5

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