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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2003
To whoever the word 'Tenchu' is new, here's a little lowdown on this excellent ninja series.
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins was the game to introduce the 'ninja stealth simulation' idea to any console. Released way back in 1998, this game soon become a cult classic and obtained a vast number of fans.
Later, the second game, Tenchu: Birth of the Stealth Assassins, which was a prequel, arrived on the PSX / PSONE. It passed the first in terms of graphics, but it wasn't as much fun.
Now that the power of PS2 is with us, Activision and K2 have united to bring to us the excellent third instalment - Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven.
This brilliant game once again places you in feudal Japan, one year after the happenings of the first Tenchu. For the third time you must, either as the mysterious and extremely focused Rikimaru, or his feisty female partner Ayame, uncover an evil plot that is being silently brewed up by a new enemy.
The new plot consists mainly of three magical jewels that when utilised together form a great force. Should all three fall into the hands of the enemy, this world will be doomed. Obviously the two cunning ninjas aren't just gonna stand around; you will embark on a number of missions before finally meeting the big bad guy face-to-face.
The main idea of Tenchu is its awesome stealth simulation. In this game your ninjas have many different ways of moving in stealth. You can sneak up on an enemy who is unaware of your presence and perform a particular attack known as a stealth kill. This is a usually gory and always painful way of taking out your enemies. There are 6 different stealth kills for each character, and they are all very cool to look at. However you need to master the way of silent killing. If an enemy spots you as an opponent, they will attack and you will have to either hide and wait for the enemy to calm down, or you can fight. Fighting is as enjoyable as stealth killing, but stealth is more rewarding.
Now for the statistical stuff.
Graphics: 9
Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven sports some of the most impressive graphics yet when it comes to character models. The main character models are well-done and extremely detailed, and the enemies are more or less equally impressive. This graphical improvement is especially true in the cutscenes, which are done in gameplay graphics instead of CG. This excludes the excellent CG intro movie. These great graphics help immensely to make the stealth kills as pleasing as possible. The backgrounds are also well-designed, but there are cases when the Tenchu fan will notice that the graphics are very similar to those of the previous instalments, only sharper. The game moves at a fast 60 frames per second, keeping everything at a quick pace, though there are cases when the game slows down when there are too many enemies on screen. You needn't fret, it's very rare that the game slows down, and the one time i've witnessed it was when i grouped some 6 enemies to fight at the same time!
Sound: 10
The sound has always been superb in the Tenchu series, so it's no surprise that the excellent soundtrack has made a return. One particular track pays homage to a similar track in the first Tenchu. The soundtrack is varied and changes in every stage. The sound effects are also very sharp. There is a large amount of different soundtracks, such as your swords swishing through the air and then hitting flesh, sputtering blood falling on the ground, splashing water, clashes as two blades strike each other, and many more.
Controls: 9
Tenchu has never been all that great in fighting, but here it's made a large change. You can now lock on to the enemy and successfully dodge, strafe and counter attacks with great ease.
The controls are all very simple. One button operates the different attacks and combos, another allows you to block and perform throws on the enemy (the throws are a great new addition), another allows you to perform all manner of jumps and quick movements, etc...
Gameplay: 10
The gameplay in Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven is extremely cool and also most importantly the game is great fun to play. As mentioned before, you have the choice of choosing from two characters (and there is also a third hidden character). Both of them have different attacks and stealth kills. Rikimaru has a long-ranged blade which makes him a bit slow yet also powerful, while Ayame sports two short blades, which while not causing much damage, can be used for lightning-fast attacks. Also both characters have their own style of attacking; while Rikimaru uses traditional sword attacks, Ayame prefers to mix her slashes with acrobatic attacks.
The pure bliss of sneaking up on your enemy by any means that are available to you is the real fun behind this game, as mentioned before. You can just pick up and play. Missions are beaten by getting to the exit, which is marked on your map. The game will rank you after completing the mission. You have a vast amount of different items, which you can select before the mission starts, and depending on your rank you will increase more items in your storage. Getting the best rank also awards you with a brand-new item. A lot of the missions have a boss battle within them, which can be at the start, somewhere in the middle or at the very end. Boss battles require you to have good fighting skills, which evidently shows that you must not rely on stealth only; you must practice your fighting skills now and then. Stealth is made easy with the Ki Meter, which allows you to snes how close or far away the enemy is, and what their status is. Stealth also provides you with a great new feature; you have another meter known as the Kuji meter, which fills up with 'Kanji', which is obtained by performing stealth kills. When the Kui meter is filled, your character will gain a new ability. The abilities range from powerful combos to clinging to ceilings!
Lifespan :9
This game has a variable lifespan, depending on your choice and taste. There are 10 different levels, with two secret ones, over which 28 missions are spread. Rikimaru and Ayame have 10 missions each, meaning that they both explore the 10 standard levels. The secret character has 6 missions. The stages are quite short, but seem longer due to the time taken in sneaking up on the enemy. It is a bit easy to complete, especially for hardcore gamers and Tenchu fans, but as with the first Tenchu there are three layouts for every mission, meaning that you have three different enemy and item positions all in one stage. This excludes the tow secret missions. This means that to fully complete the game, you have to go through (26 X 3) + 2...80 missions!
And if you get a bit bored of story mode, there is also a brand new and superb multiplater mode. Versus allows you to play as 20 different characters - the three main characters, two secret characters, and a large number of enemies, most of which are bosses. Then you have to choose a stage and hunt each other down. You can stealth kill or fight the enemies placed in the stage before you take out your buddy. There are also a few item boxes in the map to pick up; the armed opponent is the dangerous one. There is also a co-op mode where you must choose from the three main characters to take on 6 different missions. New characters and stages are unlcoked by beating missions in story mode.
Extra Stuff
Items
Over 30 unique ninja items to use on your enemies, including throwing knives, grenades, smoke bombs, poisoned rice balls, the new sticky bombs (a remote mine / pinwheel hybrid with a sticky underside) as well as number of ninja spells.
Loads of New Enemies
A huge list of different and varied enemies. Samurai, ninjas, robots and even the undead are actively blocking your path.
Advanced Stealth Techniques
Your ninjas can use all manner of stealthy techniques; pressing against walls to see what's around the corner, sneaking and rolling, crawling through thin spaces, and many more.
Great Attention to Detail
Each stage has its own detailed features. The Limestone Cavern, for example, is full of shimmering crystals, while the Cemetery is riddled with mist-covered tunnels. The Bamboo Forest has rock-filled rivers and soft snow which crunches underfoot.
Smarter Enemy AI
Enemies have different patrol patterns, statuses and emotions. Know your enemy and then see when you have the chance to strike. Alerted foes can now climb up to rooftops and diligently search for you from a height.
Extreme Boss Fights
A large cast of enemy bosses whom you must fight up close and personal. Bosses have their own special attacks and attack tactics and patterns.

Hope this review helps. In my opinion, this is a great game to own - a classic. There is no reason why not to give it five stars.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2003
Tenchu was a groundbreaking game when it first appeared on the PSONE with it's unique blend of action, atmosphere and stealth that required the gamer to actually think about their moves, it was a game that relied on staying hidden and being quick on the kill rather than running around like a rampaging barbarian and hacking everything that moved. So it was obvious when PS2 was announced that eventually Tenchu would make it's way onto a better console, and it was a good choice.
You begin as either Rikimaru or Ayame, both will use stealth to kill their opponents but Rikimaru is a bit better at the ground combat and Ayame is better at the agile climbing and leaping around of the game and when it comes to hand to hand combat she will have to out play her opponents when if she wants to keep her health and become Grand Master.
The missions are quite similar to the previous but they seem a little shorter but more involving with more bosses that at times come at you at the beginning of the mission! The added graphical content like mist, water effects and lightning plays with your mind as ninjas are quick to become suspicious and when they do they seek you out and can even change their pattern of walk which welcomes an intelligent AI that at times seems far superior to yours.
One of the most welcome improvements are the controls, it's now more easy to stealth kill your opponents in many different ways even at times from the top of a building and onto their shoulders slaughtering them in many gruesome ways. It's not all pointless violence, by stealth killing your opponents you gain a strange Japanese symbol that lights up, kill up to so many opponents in stealth fashion and you get a new skill, it adds the gamer to concentrate more on cunning and timing the kills than simple hack and slash, though that is an option you can choose, it is a lot more harder, as you are a ninja you must be one with the shadows and all that.
You get more items to pick and you can pick up new ones, even though you can only carry 15 items, most of which will be medi kits, it's a shame you can't carry more of the strange assortment of bombs and traps to use.
The other minor problem are the save points, by collecting a ninja rejuvenation bottle thing you can recover in the same point the enemy kills you but if you fall down a hole, and in this game there are quite a few, you will be transported back to the beginning where you will have to once again test your patience, this minor flaw does irritate in some missions.
Overall, Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven is the best of the series and those who enjoyed the previous outing of Rikimaru and Ayame must own this game.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 April 2003
I was never one for "kill everyone in range" games, so The first Tenchu game was a welcome change from "hack-slash'n'mutilate".
The second game was dissapointing, I'd give it only two stars. But the third game has kept me on my playstation for hours on end. The slick, smooth graphics, the original gameplay, hollywood-style plot and utter addictivness make this game a must have for anyone with a passion for gaming. The many optional stealth kills that you can perform throughout the game a graphic and not for the faint-hearted, but oddly satisfying and you get a real sense of achievement from it - you almost wish the game went on forever!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2008
As a huge fan of the first Tenchu games, I was really looking forward to playing this. It had been years since I played the previous two and I was quite excited at the prospect of a third Tenchu game.

As soon as I started playing, I noticed how much more fiddly the controls were. You can't use the directional buttons but rather you have to use the analog stick which just makes it that much harder. At least, for me. As a result, the movement tends to be awkward. Whereas pressing down on the directional button in Tenchu 1 & 2 caused your character to block, here you have to press the circle button and when you are blocking, your movement becomes severely impeded.

Not only that but when you run, it is more like a run which has been slowed down two-fold and if your enemy is on the other side of the courtyard, by the time you reach him, he could very well have turned around and spotted you.

The combat is not particularly fun. If you get more than one enemy on to you, it is practically impossible to win because a) you either die or b) you lose a substantial amount of health. Health top-ups are very scarce, too. I tried it on "Easy" and found it to be extremely difficult.

Various things are marked on the map but there does not seem to be an explanation for what they are or for what their purpose is. Reading the instruction manual doesn't help in this case either because it is not mentioned.

Moves such as side-steps seem much harder to accomplish. Before it was two quick presses of the directional button but now it's.......well, I still haven't really figured it out.....

As for the bosses, it's just ridiculous. Unless you simply take the view of "attack, attack, attack" you will be going down, sonny. The only way to ensure success is to corner him and just go full out attack. But wait for it, there is a catch! In the process, you get severely mauled.

Now, the second level is about stealth and patience. You have to reach a man called Hamada who is on the first floor and in order to do that, you have to slip past all of the guards unnoticed (and without killing them, since they are Gohda's guards). Now, unlike the previous Tenchu games, where the guards were well-spaced out and you had plenty of room to maneuovre, here you go from one small room to another, from one narrow corridor to the other, having to avoid detection. Many times, you approach them blind because a sliding door is obscuring your view and you have no idea which direction they are facing. Quite honestly, I just gave up because for me, I did not get any enjoyment out of it which, let's face it, is the whole point of playing a game.

What I found appealing about the previous installments is that you had a choice: whether to play the stealth game or the attacking game. Here, you can't afford to do that. It is purely stealth otherwise, like I said, you will get punished.

The graphics are very nice and there are special abilities which are not present in the other games e.g. throwing people across the room, tossing them up in the air, etc but graphics, size and extra moves alone don't make a game fun, at least, not for me. It has to have good playability and unfortunately, this game is seriously lacking in this department.

I gave it 3 stars overall simply because the idea is good, the graphics are good and there are extra abilities. It's just a shame that they did not continue in the same vein as the first two games.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2007
this is one of my favorite games for PS2. there is some storyline to this, but basically its just 'kill everyone in sight' (including those pesky dogs!) the controls for this game are easy to get to grips with and reasonbly versitile. perhaps the best bit of this game are the stelth kills, if you can get close to an enemy without being seen a short (3-5 second) video occors where you insantly kill them in a variety of different ways: ITS KOOL! you can play as 2 different ninja each with a differnt storyline and slightly different levels. there is a two player section to the game which is great fun, though the multiplayer levels are quite short (with a 10 minute time limit). As mentioned in a previous review the graveyard levels are difficult/scary/furiating!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 2003
Having followed the series from Tenchu 1 & 2 across the PSOne, I would probably class myself a fan. After the slightly disapointing tenchu 2 (IMO), I am considerably impressed with this latest addition.
The graphics are much improved, taking advantages of the technologies of the PS2 platform. I especially like also the re-use of some of the sound effects and enemy speeches taken from the earlier games.
My only gripe was the fact that I had to re-learn the control system has it has changed from the earlier games. However, once this re-settling period was over, you find they are better than the original controls in many respects.
Although co-op and deathmatch are becoming more common on console titles, the multiplayer modes in this are no exception in the fun. Deathmatch does what it says on the tin, although no stealh-killing. The co-op is not the actual single player storyline (ala Halo) but single missions with more unlocking as you complete the game. The dual stealth-kills are entertaining.
All in all, it didn't disappoint.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2003
I played Tenchu: Sleath Assasins on the PSONE and I have to say I was impressed by the addictive gameplay and original concept. Years down the line and after being very disappointed with Tenchu 2, I approached Tenchu 3: Wrath of Heaven with caution, and a critical eye. At first impression the game was pleasing. The menus are clear and easy to handle, and the music is catchy but does not grow old. However the best was yet to come as I began to play the game. The atmosphere is thick, with beautiful sound effects and a great score. This coupled with above average graphics, a satisfying stealth kill system and a replayable level setup with multiple paths made a wicked ninja title. All in all, this and the excellent multiplayer mode wrap up the perfect stealth game. 5/5
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on 19 March 2003
I played the first two, and I loved them. When I heard this was coming out, I pre-ordered it and waited in anticipation. I was not disapointed. I'm a hard-core gamer, and I know what's good. This is good, great in fact. The rooftops, the unrealistic yet highly fun weapons, the killing and err.....the killing. The storyline lacks...well...a decent story, but that is of no matter. And I would of liked more versitility, as there isn't much use of shadows for concealment, just a lot of corners and elevated spots. And of course, the enemy aren't the smartest of soldiers. Still, great game, a lot of fun to play and go back and master, but don't expect the characters levels to be much different, they are mainly just backwards. A game that has set itself up for something much greater, so buy it baby!!
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on 9 March 2003
I've always followed the Tenchu series and when I was in town with a mate I suddenly caught eye of Tenchu 3. I was pretty shocked that I had heard nothing about it coming out and yet it was sitting there crying out to me to slash up some bad guys for old times sake. So I got it and it's great! Single player and especially co-op multiplayer. There are more weapons and the fact you can use your enemys weapons is classic. It's Brilliant game and I recommend it to fans of the stealthy games.I'd like it to be online so you could work with other ninjas in Co-op against other ninjas,that would kick ass!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2014
I love these games. Tenchu was my first playstation game & this is one of the really good ones.
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