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PlayStation / Review / Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins
Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins
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Publisher: Activision
Developer: Acquire
Release Date: Available Now
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Graphics: 3.0
Sound:3.0
Control: 3.5
4.0
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Review by: Cheat Monkey
Posted: 08/10/00 [view screens]

It isn't easy being an assassin. Just ask Rikimaru or Ayame, the returning star ninjas in Activision's, Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins. The original Tenchu made waves with its excellent blend of action and stealth, and now Activision has expanded the game with more items, new surprises, and a level editor.

Is That A Katana In Your Pocket?
In the original Tenchu, players had to use careful planning and precise execution to complete the game's tough, stealth-based missions. Its sequel takes that successful formula and adds even more depth, with new weapons, new missions, and a well-done plot which is slightly different depending on which character you choose. The missions have more variety as well. Now you'll have to protect allies as well as steal items and perform assassinations. Tenchu veterans will appreciate the thought that went into the level design and mission structure.

Gameplay is essentially much the same as it was in the first Tenchu. Stealth plays a major part with the main objective still being to avoid detection by the enemy. You can crouch down to hide behind objects, shuffle along walls, and use your grappling hook to hoist yourself up to tree branches, ledges, and rooftops. Dropping down on an unsuspecting enemy soldier is a riot, but the grappling hook can be finicky, and sometimes you'll land off target if you're not lined up perfectly. Tenchu 2's swimming controls, new to the series, are simple but effective, and going underwater adds a new dimension to the game. Other items like poison, a breathing tube for staying hidden underwater, and mines to explode under foolhardy enemies round out the selection of the shadow warrior's arsenal. Other special items can be unlocked if you perform well enough in a given mission.

Ninja Edit
Once you're done with the main game, you can use the easy-to-use level editor to create a custom mission. You can throw something together in less than five minutes, or spend hours carefully planning out a map. You start off with basic objects and scenarios, but once you complete missions in the main game, more items become available.

The graphics in Tenchu 2 are slightly better than the first, but they haven't evolved much. The fog has been pushed back so players can spot enemies sooner (a very good thing), and the textures have been given a slight resolution boost, but the same camera problems that plagued the first Tenchu once again rear their ugly head. In the heat of combat, the camera has a nasty tendency to move around so that you can't see either yourself or the enemy you're fighting. Fortunately, it doesn't happen a lot, but when it does, it's maddening. There's also some occasional texture warping and slowdown. The original Tenchu had some silly voice acting, but with this sequel the characters speak with much better emotion, and the sound effects (including the overt sound of your "stealthy" footsteps) are good, but not great.

Tenchu Very Much
The second Tenchu is measurably better than the first, but not by much. Still, it's a great game that makes you think before you act, a welcome change from all the fast action games of today. Tenchu veterans will love the new additions, and the level editor greatly expands the replayability of the game. If you haven't played Tenchu yet, Tenchu 2: The Birth of the Stealth Assassins will be a great addition to your PlayStation library.


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