Tenchu 2: Birth Of The Stealth Assassins Review

By: John Doe

The prequel to one of PlayStation's shining moments, Tenchu 2 is bigger, better and longer than it's predecessor. There are more control and camera issues present than in the first game, but pound for pound, Tenchu 2 lives up to the hype.


As a huge fan of the first game, I was looking forward to the release of this title and although I was a little perturbed at the control at first, I was able to get past it, and really sink my teeth into it. Rikimaru and Ayame return, except that Tenchu 2 takes place before the last game. The have both become ninjas and the missions that play out are their initiations into ninja-hood.

Let's get the bad out of the way. T2 suffers from some camera issues. Sometimes it behaves and other times when you need it the most, it fails you. The swimming ability makes way too much noise to be stealth-like and dragging dead bodies is difficult to execute. Throw in a million really tough Boss encounters and a save game system developed in the bowels of Hell, and you'd think that T2 was a big loser; but it isn't. Tenchu 2 has it's share of annoyances but if you take your time, you will find a deep game underneath that will challenge you every step of the way.

This game offers missions for both Riki and Ayame (approx. a dozen each), and once you complete the game with both, you'll unlock Tatsumaru and his 7 missions; so there is no lack of gameplay here. Using stealth is just as important this time around thanks to some dusk and daylight missions. Just as in the last game, you'll have to take on a Boss at the end of a level. The downside though is that not only are the Bosses more frequent and a helluva lot tougher, but the save points are implemented in such a way that you'll have to go back to the beginning of the level and start anew if you die fighting the boss. Expect to huck some controllers playing Tenchu 2. In fact, I'm not ashamed to say that, yes, I even started biting one. You know a game is a real S.O.B. when you suddenly realize you've got something vibrating in your mouth. Yessir, I am a real genius.

Visually Tenchu 2 looks a lot like the first game. The graphic engine isn't exactly the strongest around, but it gets the job done. The animation is a little jerky, and Ayame's stealth walk looks more like a middle-aged women looking for a bathroom stall than a trained assassin. One of the main attractions is the Mission Editor which allows you to create your own little ninja scenario's with the elements provided. If you want more options to choose from, simply get further in the game. Of course that ain't easy thanks to those Bosses.

The original Tenchu's soundtrack was a brilliant mix of acoustic tunes with Japanese overtones. T2's is more ethnic and although it suits the ambience, I found myself longing for the first soundtrack, some songs of which I can still hear in my head two years after the fact. Now that's good music!

If heavy duty challenge doesn't make you blanche, and you've been hankering for a good ninja game, well then what are you waiting for? Tenchu 2 definitely has it's problems; it's not quite as polished as Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, what I consider the high water mark for 3D action on the PSX, but it still has a lot of things going for it. An evenings rental will allow you to make an educated purchase decision.






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