Tenchu: Return From Darkness

Return from Darkness doesn't cast the series in any better light.

Although Tenchu is one of the most entertaining stealth franchises, the games tend to fall under the one-and-a-half sequel syndrome?stick in a few tweaks and features, and call it a new game. Tenchu: Return from Darkness is no different.

The main improvements from the PlayStation 2 version are the enhanced visuals and the ability to drag bodies. However, enemies don't do too much when they spot a dead body, making body-dragging not really a necessity. The game's Xbox Live capability was supposed to be one of the defining features, but the two modes offered seem to be somewhat of an afterthought. Cooperative Game mode gets old quick, and the Versus Game, while offering some cool characters (Mifuyu is awesome), needs more oomph?the game screams the need for a deathmatch mode pitting ninjas against samurais in a battle royale.

The series took a step backward with the Joker-inspired level designs in the single-player mode?for some reason, houses are convoluted labyrinths, requiring you to go into attics and crawl under narrow passageways. The open-ended levels seen in the original Tenchu are replaced with mostly linear levels that have artificial bottlenecks, forcing the player to follow specific paths. Aggravating the problem of poor level design is the camera, which gives you more unnecessary close-ups than a bad artsy French movie. There is a great game under all these issues, but after seeing so many sequels, fans will justifiably be demanding more from their game.

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