Pros: Fun for Hours, Good Relaxer, Online, True Stealth, smooth controls
Cons: No real Story, Repetitive
Tenchu Z is a pretty rare game to find nowadays. I picked this game up a number of years ago when I saw it at Gamestop for only thirty dollars. Now usually I am not too quick about buying games before knowing anything about them but something caught my eye. I have always been into ninja assassins and samurais so I gave it a chance. I still own the game which is a record for me because I am addicted to buying and selling games but this game has always been something pretty special. I have probably played through the campaign at least eight times, have every achievement and sometimes still look for people to play online now and again.
The story or plot of this game makes no sense and after playing it through numerous times I still do not understand it. All you really need to know is your assassinating drug lords and “foreigners” who are corrupting Japan. The story really is how many people can you kill without getting detected. There are about fifty missions and three difficulty levels in which to choose from. You really need to be into this game to truly enjoy it. This game is about stealth which is one of the only games I have played where stealth is so important. You cannot run out and start hacking away at enemies like other games I have played. If you do not have patience and just want to start hacking away at enemies GET A DIFFERENT GAME because you will not enjoy this game. The customization in this game is pretty solid. You can choose from a variety of skills and techniques to improve your character. One of my favorites is the ability walk on ceilings and put an invisible sheet, kind of like Harry Potter to baffle your enemies. There is also a lot of different clothing and weapons to help defeat enemies. You can look like an insane ninja or a ridiculous looking fox or panda. The game can get very intense at times. One mission I will never forget (I think Mission 16) is one of the hardest missions I have played in a game. Even on normal the mission was almost impossible so be ready to be frustrated for that mission (especially if you’re looking to get 5 stars which I always strove for). The missions at times get repetitive I will admit but if you really enjoy a true stealth game I would definitely suggest this one.
There is a limited amount of different objectives for each mission. The objectives range from retrieving bombs to slaughtering every enemy in a town or hideout. My favorite was obviously annihilating a town with the edge of my sword. I think what really makes this game fun is trying different moves to slaughter enemies. If you do the same moves you are going to be bored. I also want to say that this game could be improved and really could have been an instant classic if they spent more time on it. Going through the same maps and mission objectives gets a bit boring but it is really up to the gamer to unlock the full potential of this game. Going back to the stealth, everything you has a factor in if you get detected or not. There are three ways you can get detected. One, the enemy can smell you if you walk into a mud piles or get blood all over you after a fight. Two, they can hear you by a trap that was placed or if you decide to go with the explosives. Three, they see you because you do not understand the importance of shadow and light. The game gets pretty technical in the light and dark aspect. There is a meter showing how visible you are and the amount of light in the room. What I thought was great about this game was the fact that as the difficulty increased you were more susceptible to not getting away with certain thing. For instance, on easy you can go to about half way on the light and dark meter without getting seen by close enemies. On hard, if you are not in the dark you are bound to get caught. Another aspect which you might not catch on to right away is the actual kill. When you slowly get behind an enemy or pounce down on them from a ceiling a circle will appear around them with the colors of yellow, orange or red. The red circle means it is a perfectly timed kill and you will get more points for that kill. You sometimes have to wait for the perfect kill but I always did to get five stars on each mission. It is a hard concept to grasp at first but if you do not want to risk waiting you can grab them and drag them slowly to a dark area. Where you can push them against a wall to stab them through or wrestle to the floor where you crack their neck. It gets intense as the missions continue because more enemies are surrounding you.
Graphic wise this game is nothing out of the blue. The graphics are pretty basic and the blood looks like…well the blood doesn’t really look like blood at all. I do like when I cut the enemies throat and the blood is so delayed that it spurts like a fountain about twenty seconds after you have left. The graphic remind me of Saints Row graphics which I personally like. So the game isn’t the best graphics but the controls are very smooth. The controls are pretty basic. You use RB to crouch and holding it you can roll undetected for the most part. Most of the tutorial will explain the controls but do not get frustrated if you do not master them at first. Now there are combinations to get enemies against a wall or pushed against the floor which you will learn quickly. I felt that the controls in this game were a strong point. They are easy to pick up and not too complicated but you still have to learn how to use different combinations. I could explain exactly how to do them but I think the gamer should learn them because it is fun to try something for the first time. A lot of skills you need to upgrade. For example, the highest skill in one of the many skills is running does not cause detection. This skill is obviously very useful in a stealth game. If you equip the right items you can go on a killing frenzy for hours. Items include grappling hooks, ninja stars (which I personally did not find to useful) and many others.
The online is another very cool aspect which I was surprised at when I first purchased it. It is the same story you will honestly memorize after a while but you can play with three other friends to complete the missions. I and my friends played this game for hours in the months to follow which really gives a sense of how fun it is. The difference between the single and Xbox live campaign is more enemies. It is a battle of who can honestly kill the most. It is fun when you have four but not many people play on it anymore. Sadly, I was looking forward to a battle between ninja assassins but the story is fun with three other people playing gives some more competition. Some people are still online so do not let that shy you away from buying it.
This game is not video game changing masterpiece but it is a good game if you want to kill hundreds of enemies using different techniques and stealth moves. You can fly up into the air to slice an enemy almost completely in half or quietly cracks their neck in the tall grass. If you can find this game I would highly suggest picking it up because it really does not disappoint. It is rare to find a game I still enjoy playing after all of these years. To go by a critical view I would give this game three stars for the repetitive story and lack of depth in game but I GIVE IT FOUR STARS FOR THE VERY ENTERTAINING GAME PLAY and the hours of fun it gave me. I really think this is the only true stealth game out there so I would definitely pick it up.