PS2 REVIEW: TENCHU: FATAL SHADOWS

Tenchu fans are going to have to live up to the hard reality that their series is dated and flawed. Tenchu: Fatal Shadows just can't compare to the quality of games being produced today. It's a shame because there is so much promise here. The developers dropped the ball in a big way.

This really could have been a smart game with a great story and the freedom to use any ninja skills to accomplish each objective. Instead we are forced to use stealth and we're treated to a storyline that makes little sense. Something was definitely lost in translation.

Playing as a stealthy female ninja, you are investigating the slaughter of your village. Rim is female survivor that will accompany you on your quest. She's out for revenge. Unfortunately we never really get to express our anger vicariously since the gameplay favors stealth kills. Not to mention that the bloated, pretentious storyline ends up confusing us more than getting us all fired up. The cutscenes are tremendously underwhelming with static woodcut images attempting to illustrate some wandering narrative that speaks of war, blood, vengeance and honor. We're introduced to characters that appear to have no relevance to the irrelevant story.

To add to the perplexing storyline is the badly written dialog and atrocious voiceacting of the female ninjas. This ruins the experience for me right here. I can't imagine anyone of any age that wouldn't think this was awful. It sounds as though Ashley Simpson wrote and recorded the dialog. It's so corny, immature and downright pathetic that I just had to turn the sound off.

Breaking the game down into levels or stages is the only way I can play this game. As long as all I have to do is concentrate on getting from one point of the map to the other I can continue on without having to subject myself to the voiceacting and the senseless ramblings that pass for a story. If I missed anything it was worth it.

There are three ways to get through each stage. You can run, you can fight out in the open, or you can sneak your way through using stealth. As I mentioned, the game favors stealth. Although you can run like a bastard to the end of the stage you won't get any points for stealth kills. Not to mention that it's a cheap and fast way to get through the game. These points can be used to purchase new moves and skill as well as unlockables. Stealth kills are easy enough to perform. When you get in proximity of the enemy you will be given a choice to eliminate him. Although you can press the button twice for a more flamboyant kill, the animations are repetitive and not a joy within themselves to witness.

Hand-to-hand combat is possible but it's not convenient. The controls are sloppy and there aren't enough moves to make it interesting. The camera can't keep up with the action. It seems as though this combat was an afterthought which is inexcusable for a ninja game.

Regardless of how you engage the enemy, they are seldom much of a challenge. If they aren't getting stuck somewhere they will only give chase if they can see you. As soon as you duck around a corner it won't be long until they forget what they were doing and go about their business of guarding the compound to keep intruders at bay.

Tenchu: Fatal Shadows looks dated. The graphics are low res and lack detail. The architecture is repeated far too often. It seems like you're always in the same compound or village. At least the stealth animations have been streamlined to hasten the action - or at least what passes for action.

There's nothing about Tenchu: Fatal Shadows that hasn't been explored in previous versions. Definitely rent this one before you consider purchasing it.

Preview By Chris

Sega has announced the next game in the series of Tenchu will be released for the PS2. K-2 will be in charge of the game. These are same folks who where responsible for the last PS2 and Xbox versions. While the series has its fans, the Xbox version had several issues especially with the multi-player and XBL support. It seems only gamers in the same country could connect through XBL leaving a few gamers with a bad taste in their mouths. While Xbox and the creators sort of blamed each other, the game is still a popular series. Now it looks like the next chapter in the series will only appear on the PS2 system.

The game will once again feature the character Ayame and newcomer Rin. Both characters will still be Ninja warriors and the story will use historical Japan in the story. The series has been a hit with fans for its mix of melee style fighting and the stealth missions. Gamers can expect more of this style and larger levels of play. No word on any online support although the game is a ways off. Slated for a first quarter 2005 release, the game is sure to go through some changes.
The game will offer challenges for the beginner and long-time players of the series including brand new moves and characters as well as a more balanced gameplay. For now take a look at the screen shots and we will keep fans of the series updated as soon as K-2 or Sega releases more features and screen shots. </P>

Press:

"We're happy to add the latest addition from the critically-acclaimed Tenchu franchise to SEGA's current lineup," said Scott. A. Steinberg, Vice President of Entertainment Marketing, SEGA of America, Inc. "Tenchu titles have had great success in North America, selling more than 1.4 million units, for two key reasons: they offer deep, involving worlds to explore and present gamers with exciting gameplay options."

 

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System: PS2
Dev: SEGA
Pub: K2 /FromSoftware
Released: Feb 2005
Players: 1
Review by Shelby
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.5
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
2.5
MUSIC/FX
2.0
VALUE
2.0