Review: Tenchu Z

Review: Tenchu Z
Review: Tenchu Z

Ninjas rule. They seriously rule. Have you ever seen a ninja that doesn't rule? Everyone loves ninjas in some form or another… except of the course the people being hunted by them. Because ninjas are such a fun idea, ninja games are usually a lot of fun to play.

Now, K2 and From Software are bringing us Tenchu Z. Tenchu Z is a ninja-game where you can customise your ninja and then take them out into the ninja-world where they'll slice and dice their way through 50 levels of sword-wielding mayhem. And while that sounds like it'd work, you'll probably get sick of this game so quickly you'll want to slice the disc up ninja style.

The premise of Tenchu Z is easy enough: be a ninja and kill the bad guy who's trafficking a drug through the villages. And with 50 missions, you'd think that you'd get a lot of gameplay, but unfortunately almost every single mission is the same and most of the cool weapons you get at your disposal aside from your sword don't need to be used. Sadly, even when you do want to use them, the game is often too slow to put them into play without you being shot or stabbed first.

A lot of that comes down to the poor control scheme. In playing Tenchu Z, you'll probably be surprised as to how awkward the controls actually are. We didn't get used to them ourselves and we doubt you will either. Comfortable controls like using the triggers to take shots or swipes like other games would normally use are ignored and you'll be playing most of the game with a strange configuration on the ABXY buttons. It's certainly not an intuitive system.

Then you've got the camera which is one of the worst cameras we've seen in a while. It doesn't do too bad a job when you're just running around, but the moment you're fighting it becomes useless often leaving you with no choice but to fight blindly.

The graphics are pretty poor for a full-priced game. Models and textures seem to lack detail and you can see where some of the characters look unfinished. The blood looks tacky and the animations are just flat out poor. You'll more or less watch the same animation over and over again as you kill characters or as they take swipes at you. Arrows shot at you can often stay embedded in your hear until they miraculously disappear and non-player characters seem more than content with existing in between walls.

Sound isn't much better. The entire voice-over soundtrack is done in Japanese and it usually sounds boring or cheesy with one of the first enemies you'll go after even sounding like Jabba The Hutt. The few sound effects in the game are repeated over and over again and are badly cut leaving you with the boring and unchanging music that just blindly doesn't usually match what's going on most of the time you're playing.

Adding to all of this, the presentation is poor, the customization choices are laughable and some of the continuity errors make the game seem a mess. If you're able to find someone else who bought this game, there's a multiplayer component for cooperative play.

Tenchu Z could still be a lot of fun, but you're going to have to play this game knowing full well that the developer didn't care enough to make this game look completed when they released it.

Developer: K2, Ltd.
Publisher: From Software
Classification: MA15+
Formats: Xbox 360
URL- Tenchu Z

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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