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  Tenchu 2
"After the death of their parents, three ninjas were taken in by Master Azuma Shiunsai, the leader of Lord Gohda's Azuma Ninja. Having lived his whole life in the hidden world of the ninja, Master Shiunsai gave his new apprentices the only upbringing he could offer - a life in secrecy in a world of shadows, the life of a ninja. One day the three apprentices learned a coup had broken out in the House of Ghoda. As they rushed to the castle to defend Lord Gohda, they learned that lord's uncle, Motohide, had plotted to kill and displace him as the head of the House. They then discovered that a much more sinister plot was in the works. A neighboring samurai lord had deceived Motohide into killing Lord Ghoda, only to seize control away from Motohide once Lord Ghoda was out of the way. During the fierce battle that ensued, it became apparent that this was only the beginning of what would soon become the largest crisis ever to face the Azuma Ninja." --Activision (official game site)

This is truly a new and exciting action/adventure game that sufficiently follows up its Tenchu predecessor. There is an interesting storyline behind this stealthy bit of entertainment that provides some incite into the already action packed Activision release. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been exposed to a playstation game that is actually enjoyable to play, but I must say that this is indeed a pleasure to experience.

Prior to playing the game the player gets to choose between two characters with which use, Rikimaru and Ayame. Rikimaru is conscientious and has worked steadily throughout his young years to become a skilled ninja warrior. Ayame is the youngest of the Azuma Ninja and ignores ancient ninja traditions by becoming a well-developed fighting machine with a unique still that meshes well with her will nature. Both are respectable choices for ninja fighting however I preferred to play using Rikimaru. There is a third character, Tatsumaru, but he will not be available until the player has successfully completed all of the first two characters missions.

The player gets to choose what mission to begin, however, if it is your first time playing the game then your character must pass the training course before they are allowed to continue on to other missions. The Training Course gives the player the opportunity to sharpen their characters skills in the safety of the ninja’s native village. This particular pre-mission tests and teaches all the basic moves and maneuvers needed to succeed at future missions. It also gives the player a chance to become well associated with the buttons used to perform different moves so as to make it easier to succeed at ninja missions.

When beginning a mission there are a few important tidbits to know. Your character can carry only five types of items plus their grappling hook. However, each time a mission is completed more items will be available and the higher your score, the more items the character can acquire. So be sure to check all dead ninja bodies throughout the game for any items they might be carrying. Another thing to watch when playing is the Ki Meter. This determines when your character is close to another character and if that other character is aware of you. The closer you get to the character the more your Ki Meter will glow. But be careful your Ki Meter can’t differentiate between enemies and non-enemies. There are four main Ki Meter symbols: [?] means you are close to another character, but they haven’t sensed your there. [!] means the enemy has sensed something but doesn’t know who or what you are. [!?] means the enemy is alerted and you should now move slowly and hide until the enemy in no longer agitated. [!!] means that your character has been spotted and is preparing to attack, making your only choice to fight or run.

There are various ninja items that you character can use throughout the game. The character is automatically equipped with a grappling hook has an aiming crosshair to aid you in positioning before releasing it. Shurikens, or throwing stars, are collected during the training mission. Colored rice marks your location on both the map and on the terrain. You can use Mines to place in the path of enemies but you can’t place them under water. Poison Rice has a tasty aroma that is irresistible to all enemies that find them but they won’t pick up the rice if they are in alerted state. Leaves of Stealth are used during times of trouble to escape allowing your character to disappear in a cloud of swirling leaves and reappear behind an enemy. And finally, Ninja Rebirth gives a second life if your character is carrying it when they die making you reappear at a different location.

Since achieving a high score on each mission is important to what your character receives for his or her next mission, it is important to take not of how the game is scored. Stealth kills are worth 20 points, normal kills are worth 5 points, 300 bonus points are awarded for not being spotted and your character loses 150 points for each innocent bystander that is killed.

During a mission there are some specific points to take note of. You are given a time limit that terminates your mission upon reaching 59:59.9. However, times are awarded back to you for each kill you make depending on how stealthy the kill is.

Overall, the game is a riot. The only thing that I found difficult at times was controlling the character simply because to perform certain maneuvers you must press 2 or 3 buttons. This became awkward at times, especially during fighting sequences. Other than that, the graphics are well done and the game is exciting and at times nerve racking. But in a good way!

Review ID Number: 506
  Product Details
Review Date: 2001-04-19
Reviewer: Kristin Sardy
Rating: 7 out of 10
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