Tenchu Z

Stealthing its way into the bargain bin

Oh Tenchu. What went wrong? For a series that was once full of promise and hope, each game has slid further and further down the quality control scale until it slid right off the gaming radar altogether and landed in the bargain bin. Poor old Tenchu Z has its heart in the right place. There's a nice rhythm to the stalking and stealth killing and with 100 missions, there are plenty of opportunities for both. Multiple stealth kills allow for ambitious plans when figuring out how to clear a room while co-op introduces even more tactics and options into the mix. Bosses can be stealth killed, adding a strong whiff of assassination to proceedings. When you spot your target's shadow lit up against a door, drop down from the rooftops and run your sword through the door and his stomach, there's a real feeling of being a cold, clinical assassin at work.


That makes it more of a shame the controls aren't cold and clinical to match, turning fights into drunken pub brawls. There are plenty of examples but the best has to be how it takes three buttons to block properly. That's a good system if you're the world's first gaming octopus (send in your picture some time octopus! We'd love to feature you in the mag) but for regular humanoids who only have two hands and two thumbs, it's a pain. From the moment your ninja looks more like he's desperately lurching for the nearest toilet than grimly skulking around the darkness ready to kill, Tenchu Z struggles to shake off the look of a game that got lost on the way from last-gen Xbox to the high-definition motherland where the likes of Splinter Cell and Hitman roam. And the camera? Ouch.

Tenchu Z isn't so much about what it gets right as what it gets hopelessly wrong. It has clever ideas and occasionally, pops its head above the madness to show it has potential to shine and match the ground-breaking original that kick-started the stealth movement in videogames. But with these graphics? With these controls? With this camera? Oh Tenchu. What went wrong?

The verdict

Sloppy, messy and disappointing for fans

  • Tons of levels
  • Co-op is good
  • Awful graphics
  • Awful controls
  • At times, simply awful
Xbox 360
Action, Stealth