Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Activision
Developer
K2 LLC
Genre
Stealth Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence, Blood and Gore
 
Grade
The Good

• Best ninja game out there
• Some of the best stealth mechanics in a game
• Gameplay has lots of depth
• Level designs
• Missions
• Story
• Gameplay
• Graphics
• Sound
• Replayability

The Bad

• Spirits and demons could turn off some
• Trap doors on some levels
• Only soft restart is available during gameplay

 
Grade
A+

Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven is the third installment in the Tenchu series, which began on the original PlayStation. Tenchu is the grand daddy of stealth games. Some like to think that Metal Gear Solid was the first game ever to have stealth mechanics in it's gameplay, but it wasn't. Tenchu: Stealth Assassins was. After Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, there was another installment in the series, Tenchu: Birth of The Assassins, which was actually a prequel to the first Tenchu. Birth of The Assassins really turned off a lot of fans of the series and newcomers alike because it changed up the gameplay formula that made the first so great. Now, there is finally a true sequel to the first Tenchu, and in my opinion, the best game in the series yet. Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven is born.

The controls might be kind of awkward at first for some people, however, once you get the hang of it, you will see why it is set up that way. The buttons are very responsive on the whole. Overall, great controls.

A thing I like about the game is the Ki meter that tells you if the enemy sees you, thinks you are there, or is totally clueless of your existence. This can help a lot when trying to stealth around the large environments. There is also a Kanji meter that tells you how many stealth moves you have done. Do enough and you will earn more moves for the ninja that you are playing with. Each mission unlocks a different move when the Kanji meter is filled. You also have your equipment in the bottom-right corner and you can pick what you want to use from there. The camera is good, but kind of awkward at times. Thankfully, you can manually move the camera around. Overall, the placements of everything on screen is really good.

The gameplay is where all of the Tenchu games shine. The game is really all about stealth, although you will come into contact with some close-quarters combat. The close-quarters combat fighting is good, but not that good. Kind of average. All you can do is the same attack combos, however, there are things you can add in during the combos like different moves by press forward or away or something. You can earn more abilities for close-quarters combat. Each character can earn more abilities and they all have different things. Tesshu can get 7 new abilities and Rikimaru and Ayame both can get 10. Overall, the combat in the game is good.

On to the core of the game - the stealth kill. For those who are not familiar with the Tenchu series, a stealth kill is something where you kill an enemy in one brutal, fatal blow without them seeing you. When you do a stealth kill, the game will go to an animation where it shows your ninja bringing a brutal death to the enemy at hand. You can do a stealth kill to anyone in the game except for bosses. There are around six different stealth kills per character although one more can be earned for Rikimaru. The stealth kill will also help you conserve life by not having to go through all of the close-quarters combat. Overall, the stealth kills are awesome and are one of my favorite things about the game.

The actual stealth gameplay is really good. There are many things that you can do to help you stay hidden from the enemy. When you hold down R1, you will crouch and walk slower. You can also roll and do moonsaults and all sorts of neat things like that. When you are close to a wall, you can press R1, which is the stealth button, to cling to the wall and stuff. Another thing to help you is the ability to hang from ledges and roofs and things. You can also get on top of buildings and run around. Overall, the stealthy gameplay can rival that of games such as Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Substance. The stealth mechanics are great.

The enemies are designed well. You will fight things like ronins and people like that as well as some evil beings and devilish crap. There is a touch of magical things in the game like that. The enemies are kind of smart, but can be stupid at times. For example, when an enemy sees you, they will chase you for a while, but after they don't see you for a while, they just quit looking and go about their business again. This can kind of make it a little worse, but it isn't bad enough to make you not like the game. They are kind of smart in how they look for you though. For example, in past Tenchu games, enemies could not go on roofs, but now they will. The boss fights are good, but they aren't as hard as they were in past Tenchu games. The bosses will never quit looking for you and they are harder than regular enemies. Overall, the enemies and bosses are all designed really well and they have good artificial intelligence.

The level designs are fantastic. Everything looks like it should. You see, the game is set in the 1500's in feudal Japan so everything looks like something you would see in a history book from those times in Japan. The levels range from castles to huge ronin villages to cemeteries. The indoor environments look great and so do the outdoor ones. There is also some weather affects that make the experience just that much better. There are a few different enemy layouts in each level. Some of the levels are huge yet some are a little smaller. They kind of vary between each other in size. In most levels, there are little pit things that are hard to see. If you fall in one, instant death. This really sucks and makes the game a lot more frustrating. The pit things are only in a few levels though and there aren't that many. They are just kind of hard to see. Oh well. Overall, the level designs are fantastic. They are some of the best I have ever seen in a game.

You can play as either Tesshu, Rikimaru, or Ayame. All three characters have their own, unique moves, abilities, and stealth kills. Rikimaru sports an awesome sword, Ayame has two short swords (I have no idea what any of these ninja swords are named so I will not even guess), and Tesshu, he, well, uses his bare hands really although he does have this big ass needle that he stabs people with and uses in most of his stealth kills. Rikimaru and Ayame both have 10 missions, but Tesshu has less, around 7. Their missions are all different too and will use different way points through each level. The characters all look great. Overall, great character designs.

Throughout the game, you will come in contact with a plethora of different ninja equipment for your mission. Some examples of the equipment are grappling hooks to take you from roof to roof, shurikens (ninja stars), blow guns, bear traps, poison rice bowls that enemies will eat, and so much more. They add a lot of fun to missions and offer more open-ended gameplay. You can pick up equipment around levels by breaking pots and stuff like that. You can also buy equipment in this store thing and make it available to you throughout the game. You can also pick up weapons off of dead enemies. Some of the things that you can obtain off of their dead bodies are spears and bow and arrows. Overall, great equipment and weapon variety.

The multiplayer is great. One of the options for multiplayer is a death match mode where you and a friend can hunt each other down and kick the crap out of each other in close-quarters combat. The down side to death match is the fact that you can't use stealth kills. There is also a co-op mode where you and a friend can go on missions and work together. The missions for co-op mode are missions that were made just for co-op. This means no single player missions will be available to both of you, but this kind of adds to the replay value. Overall, the multiplayer is awesome.

The replayability is very good in my opinion. There are lots of things to unlock in multiplayer and in the campaign mode. You see, you can buy weapons and stuff after you get enough money or something so you have to get them. In multiplayer, you can unlock levels to play and more characters. You get a character after you kill someone in Story mode, but there are some that are there to begin with. The multiplayer really adds to the replayability, but to tell you the truth, I could play this game over and over in the campaign mode. Some levels just make you want to keep going back for more and more. There are also three enemy layouts per level which adds to replayability, and there are three difficulty settings.

Overall, the replayability is above average and the gameplay is fantastic. My only two complaints about the game are the little pit things that cause instant death and the fact that there is no restart level button when you pause the game during gameplay. That kind of ticked me off too.

Each character has their own story line, however, they all kind of come together towards the middle of each character's campaign. The ninjas that you can choose from are Rikimaru and Ayame, two awesome ninjas from the Azuma Clan. There is also a third character, Tesshu, who is a doctor and not a ninja. Well actually, he is a doctor by day, assassin by night. He uses things like blow guns and beats his enemies to death for he is extremely strong. He has studied things like human anatomy and uses things like pressure points and breaking certain bones to his advantage. You can unlock him by beating the game once with either Rikimaru or Ayame. You will learn why Rikimaru is still alive after the first Tenchu game towards the beginning of the game. The story revolves around Tenrai doing evil crap and serving your master, Lord Gohda. Overall, the story is pretty good, but nothing great.

The graphics are good. The frame rate runs at a spectacular sixty frames per second. Everything looks so great. The levels, characters, everything. The characters have very good animations. The ninjas walk like real, great ninjas would walk. They don't just stand up and walk casually and stuff. They walk like they would have to to sneak around. The stealth kill animations are very good too. Overall, the graphics are great. They could rival the graphics of most Xbox and GameCube games and almost any PlayStation2 game.

The voice acting in English is great. This is probably because the game was made to be shipped in America before Japan. Since the game is set in Japan, there is also an option to have the voices in Japanese just in case you want it to have more of an authentic feeling. When you put it in Japanese, you will still have English subtitles so you will be able to know what everyone is saying. Well, if you don't speak Japanese that is. The music is pretty good. There are a few tracks per level although some of them seem kind of short and they repeat themselves over and over. The music is great really. Some of the best I've heard in a game. There are good sound effects in the game too. Like when explosions go off and people fall or something. When you kill someone, you get a ''death grunt'' from them, which is pretty cool. Overall, anything and everything in the game that has to do with sound sound good.

As you can tell by my name, THAguyINgta3, I am a Grand Theft Auto fanboy. Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven is one of those games that makes me think that I like it more than Grand Theft Auto III or Vice City, although I don't (that isn't necessarily a bad thing at all). There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of my favorite games of all time and you will probably like it too. To buy or to rent? Buy this game. Buy it now. In my opinion, this is the best stealth game and ninja game on the market today. This is my choice for 2003's Game Of The Year.

- - THAguyINgta3

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