4 July 2003 | jaywolfenstien
Third Time's Charm
Tenchu's always been a fun little game series, and I've always found it intriguing for its setting and the chance to take control of a stealth assassin. The original was in a world all of its own with its premise, Tenchu 2 continued that though but lost a little momentum as the developers didn't seem to know where to go next. With Tenchu 3, the development team seems to have found their way again.
Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven introduced new elements that, unlike Tenchu 2, are actually useful - like some of the special abilities the characters attain as they perform enough stealth kills, the lock-on feature, control tweaks, the ability to move about in water without alerting everyone nearby. Though, I did miss the ability to drag away dead bodies and sheath the character's weapons despite how pointless they proved to be in Tenchu 2.
Tenchu 3 has a number of flaws, but all of them are minute. The Camera still wreaks havoc on occasion; I don't think it's any better/worse than the previous Tenchu's, honestly, but I think by now in the world of 3D games where no game has mastered the art-of camera placement everyone should be used to it by now.
Some of the attempts to bring a newness did not go over so well dealing with the undead, some level-objectives and premises are annoying, enemies aren't so bright and have patterns that are way too predictable and they're easy to kill even without stealth, bosses are overall way too easy as well (especially with the overabundance of items at your disposal).
Stealth Kills get in the way in tight spots; I would really have preferred if you can cut short the character pose at the end of each stealth kill if need be, and the changing camera angles can throw you off and make you run into an enemy unintentionally. Granted you can turn Stealth Kills animations off entirely, but it'd be nice to be able to determine which animations you avoid and which you watch.
A nice element of Tenchu 2 that didn't carry over to Tenchu 3 was the idea that each character saw only a third of the plot, so while all three ninjas may be at the same location your objectives and your final boss fights always differed so in other words everything happens and it all worked together. Not quite the case with Tenchu 3; here Ayame's and Rikimaru's plots are related, but different . . . and you fight and kill the same people with both characters. It would have been nice to have Ayame off fulfilling her half the mission while Rikimaru does his half instead of playing through as Rikimaru and feeling like everything he did is pointless as you play through with Ayame because you're doing just about everything the other one did.
I dreaded Tenchu 3's plot from the get go since Rikimaru is put out of commission in the first game. They tried explaining how Rikimaru survived, and they should have left the intro's implications do the explaining, honestly (all though the related bonus level was interesting). Then they bring Onikage and Tatsumaru back and never do anything with them, really, other than give them cameos. They went that far in bringing back dead characters from previous games, I was disappointed that they didn't just go ahead and bring Mei-Oh as the final boss.
Despite those complaints, I still had a lot of fun with Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven and it is my favorite out of the Tenchu games. Very few of my gripes really detract from the game itself. Oh yeah, and the B-side dialogue is probably the most original and best `beat the game with X ranking' reward of any game I've played, but not even it is worth the effort of getting it. But still, it's fun to watch the b-film version of the Tenchu cut scenes.