We're going to start by saying lots of mean things about Tenchu Z, readers. It's only right we do our job and give it the thorough kicking it deserves so that you're under no false impression. The former Sony-only ninja stealth-'em-up's 360 incarnation looks like a cheap-as-chips PS2 game. It has controls designed by a total lunatic, a rudimentary stealth system, boxy level design, missions that are suspiciously one-note throughout and AI that took the special bus to the big white hospital.
And yet... with Tenchu Z, there's always a 'but' (or indeed an 'and yet'). It doesn't have the amaze-o-visuals we want from a 360 game, but Tenchu has always been bowling-shoe-ugly. We can tolerate some dodgy textures and the occasional dubious sound effects if they adequately capture a mood, and Tenchu Z is thick with tension and atmosphere.
The AI spends its time bumbling around prescribed routes and ignoring nine tenths of the dead bodies you'll leave in your wake, but Tenchu has never been about outwitting AI either. It's about feeling powerful as you perch high above the streets, watching your victims wander around, blissfully unaware of their impending demise.
You'll find the game recycling maps and objectives several times over, but there are bloody loads of 'em - fifty missions total, unlockables for completing them on all three difficulty settings and a ranking system that encourages you to chase perfect runs through the levels.
Z gives you a set of utterly hatstand controls, but mastery of those controls is a part of Tenchu's design and within a few levels you'll be deftly leaping across rooftops, dropping to street level and eviscerating blokes in skirts with the greatest of ease. Sit in wait by the right door and you can jab your sword straight through the paper wall and take out your target without them knowing you're there.
Sure, you can make like Fisher and lurk in the shadows, striking only when the time is right, or you can belt around at speed, hacking away at everyone you meet and taking to the high ground when you're in danger of being rumbled. Tenchu's brand of high-speed stealth makes it unlike any other entry into the genre on the 360.
Of course, there's nothing especially impressive about Tenchu Z, but at its heart there's a tiny nugget of purest fun wrapped in layer upon layer of crap - layers that Tenchu fans are already accustomed to digging though. Grab a shovel and join us.
Too expensive, but find a cheap copy and it has a bit of fun to offer stealth fans.
- Absolutely, totally huge
- Full online co-op
- Not pretty, not slick