Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven
By: Rory on April 2, 2003
Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven is a game completely reliant on story and it manages to pull this off very well. The game focuses on three characters, with two playable from the get go. The character from the past two games, Rikimaru, is back and as bad as ever. Ayame is a female ninja, just as bad as Rikimaru. The third is a mystery character named Tesshu whom you must earn. Tenchu can be played in either story or multiplayer mode, both available at startup. In order to really enjoy the multiplayer mode, however, it is necessary to earn all the special characters that you get in story mode.
The story in Tenchu is relatively simple -- silent assassin jobs with plot twists along the way. The actual story is not the amazing part but rather the intertwining of the plots of each character that make it very interesting. For instance, in the beginning Ayame will be assigned to find the lost daughters of villagers who were taken as payment. At the same time Rikimaru will be looking for the man who took the daughters. In essence, the two are working together to achieve victory.
The gameplay is a strong point and also a small weak point of the game. Its strength lies in its layout and presentation. When you play the game you feel like you are a real ninja, able to hop from rooftop to rooftop and able to use grappling hooks to get on top of the roof. In complete silence you can choose one of your ninja gadgets and choose how you want to kill your enemy. You could sneak up behind them without them noticing and do a stealth kill which is instantaneous. You could also throw a ninja star, shoot an arrow, throw an exploding dart, or any of the other ranged attacks in the game. Your final choice of course is to fight them head on, which is surprisingly difficult. The computer is smart when you take him on and often will block the whole time. The people at Activision obviously wanted to emphasize stealth killing. There are certain times, however, when head on fighting is necessary, such as boss fights and fights with other characters.
The bad part of the gameplay is the repetitiveness. The gameplay closely resembles the first two games in the series, and you will find yourself doing the same moves for the entire game. While there are plenty of moves to earn during the game, it is rare you will ever use them too much. For boss fights or tough enemies you might use it once, but for the average goon, the normal attacks are fine. Each character has their own moves, however, so it is refreshing to see a new set of moves when you replay the game.
The fluidity of the moves is also very impressive and the detail on each character is great. The moves look very realistic, and the game seems to not miss a beat and it is very rare to see any skipping. The graphics look very smooth to boot.
The sound is decent, with all mediocre sound effects. A limited array of comments from the bad guys can make the long levels seem longer. The voice acting is pretty bad for the most part, aside from narration and Rikimaru, but at least it is there, which helps the game despite its mediocre quality.
Overall, this is a truly fun game and actually immerses you in the world of ninjas. The only problem some may have is the repetitiveness which can be overlooked if you are genuinely love being a ninja. The sound may be of mediocre quality but that shouldn't be what decides your purchase. If you love ninjas and stealth I recommend the game. If you donít, the game deserves a rental.