Friday, June 29, 2007

The Review: Tenchu Z

Its already been established that ninjas are cool, but you can take just about anything cool and make it lame. Put George Clooney in a school boy outfit and give him a giant lollipop, not cool. Put Jennifer Garner in a sumo suit and roller skates, not cool. Put The Fonz in a pair of Daisy Dukes and have him water ski, not cool. What can make ninjas uncool? Taking the fun out of the one thing they do best - killing people! Welcome to the world of “Tenchu Z”, a game that should be about kicking ass but feels more like a kick in the coin purse.
The game starts out promising enough. You get to choose the gender of your character, make some physical appearance and outfit choices, then take a quick training tutorial. Once you have the basics down, gamers will begin a long and inconsequential story mode. I have no idea what the plot of “Tenchu Z” is and it really doesn’t matter. The storyline is hard to follow because I’m forced to READ it since all of the voiceovers are done in Japanese. While I appreciate the attempt at authenticity, I’d prefer to know what’s going on instead of having to read miniature, italicized font. Its just too much work. But with mission titles like “Punish the Greedy Merchant” and “Kill the Shameful Monk”, you pretty much get the point. All you have to do is search around for the guy who needs assassinating and do you job, mission over. Sounds simple and that’s the problem, it is.
The AI in “Tenchu Z” has a Forrest Gump level IQ, taking any challenge out of the game. The bad guys are terrible swordsmen who will flail around and miss badly. They all have short term memory issues because once they spot you, all you have to do is run and hide for a minute and they’ve forgotten you were ever there. They also get over seeing the bodies of their dead comrades with OJ-like quickness. Oh well, just another day at the office. Worst of all (or funniest), they have the eyesight of Mr. Magoo and can’t see more than 10 feet away. These guys are sitting ducks.
Not that your virtual Ninja uses any of this to his or her advantage. While the stealth kill animations look pretty sweet, the weak combat controls take away most of the fun. When you get into a straight up fight there’s no targeting system, so you swing your sword like a blindfolded kid aiming at a piƱata. And while you’re given access to a bunch of interesting weapons (bow and arrow, throwing stars, blow guns, mines, smoke bombs) you never need anything but your sword. Its simplistic hack and slash gaming. Yawn!
Its not that “Tenchu Z” doesn’t have any potential. The settings look cool and authentic. Gamers can buy new skills, items and clothes as they progress through the game. The online game play can be enjoyable and did I mention that the stealth kills look awesome? But when the coolest thing about being a Ninja (killing people, remember?) is so boring, what’s the point?
If you really need your Ninja fix or are looking to score some easy Achievement Points, renting this game will should be enough for you. But unless you’re a hardcore Ninja freak who has his own sword, all black outfit with Ninja shoes, “fights” with his buddies in the park and works at the Renaissance Festival on weekends, you really don’t need to own this game.
Tenchu Z
Cost: $59.99
Players: One (4 Online)
Formats: Xbox 360
Category: Stealth Fighter
Rating: Mature (17+)
You take the good: Stealth kills look cool, Chance to act out Ninja fantasy
You take the bad: Crummy combat controls, Brain dead AI, No in-game save points
And then you have – The Grade: C-


Ub3rn00b said...

When I was about 10 years old, I had this older friend that was about 16 or 17 that had a ninja costume. Back then we used to play hide and seek in the dark and he would don his costume and hide in the bushes. We never did find that guy. He's probably still hiding, feeding on small animals and berries.
The original Tenchu was enjoyable to me on the Playstation. This new Tenchu is nearly identical with a few graphical updates. Please...

Anubu Kyo said...

I'm a fan of the series and I really enjoy this game. I've found that most people don't like the game cause they can't run and shoot.... or they have to think..

Terry "coloradojoe" Terrones said...

That's funny Anubu because that's the problem with the game, it doesn't require any brains.

Anonymous said...

this game, albeit easy at times, is fun if you wanna feel like a ninja.. as said in the review.. i'm a fan of the series and the customization made me even more er hmm "giddy"... anyways the ai is not that great but its just very exciting running and jumping from rooftops and falling down to gut the baddies..

i would give it a 7/10
but most people probably wouldn't agree..

I should mention i like odd games..and i dont like shooters very much