Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tenchu Z

Ninjas are plain f****g cool. These ruthless yet stealthy assassins are perhaps the most bad ass things to come out of Japan (besides Ichi the Killer). They’ve been used in video games for a while now but it wasn’t until I played Ninja Gaiden did I fully understand a Ninja’s true potential. Now even though these bad asses can move at the speed of light and plough through an army of grunts they have been trained in the art of stealth and no game has captured this better than the Tenchu series. Even though this series has been around forever I never got a chance to play any Tenchu game but I’m hoping to redeem myself by playing developer From Software’s latest iteration exclusively for the Xbox 360 called Tenchu Z.

Tenchu Z, like most action/sports games today will start off by allowing you to customize your very own ninja in any way you seem fit and even though it may not be as detailed as EA’s Mobface it sure beats playing with preset characters. Once you’re done playing with your ninja’s appearance, you’re dropped into the single player campaign that’s expected to span nearly 50 missions. Playing through these missions is pretty much the same as any other stealth game… stick to the shadows (or to the rooftops), memorize enemy movements and strike when the time is right and if all else fails, unsheathe your sword and make 'em all bleed. Speaking of blood, Tenchu Z is pretty brutal… no doubt about it; don’t worry though, it’s nowhere near the snuff-fest that was Manhunt but you’ll be able to pull off some pretty sick maneuvers like stabbing enemies in the skull, ripping their arms off and slitting their throats and so on (told ya Ninjas were badass).

Now I’m a big fan of the whole 'balls to the wall' approach but a small word of caution here; just like in Manhunt, your character isn’t very good at handling multiple enemies so I’d stick to the shadows as far as possible. Sticking to the shadows in Tenchu Z does not mean you’re invisible… technically, since enemies will be able to sniff you out (literally) so if you’ve fallen into a cesspool or have a dead foe’s blood splattered all over your clothes, you may wanna take a quick dip into the nearest water body before progressing.

At the end of every level, your performance in that level will be graded so the stealthier you are, the more gold you earn which in turn can be used to purchase newer costumes, special items/equipment and so on

Perhaps the coolest part about Tenchu Z is the fact that the entire game can be played in co-op with upto 4 players... that’s right people, you heard right, 4 ninjas; now how bad-ass is that!! Unfortunately we don’t know much about that so we’ll talk about that as and when we review the game. On the flip-side, the game doesn’t look all that next gen and from the videos we’ve seen so far the AI looks pretty brain dead but at the end of the day it’s a stealth game… scratch that, it’s a stealth game with Ninjas so it can’t be all bad right?

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