A stealthy release that latches onto your attention
The latest in the PlayStation's popular ninja series is soon coming to the Xbox 360, and Tenchu Z looks to be taking advantage of the 360's hardware in the upcoming sequel. Named Tenchu Senran in Japanese markets, a playable demo was recently released on Xbox Live accounts for Japanese players.
The Tenchu series is all about stealth, with your character skulking through the shadows of various 17th century Japanese locales stabbing enemies in the back and generally making an unseen nuisance of yourself. Add in the ability to dive indefinitely by using a bamboo reed, and being able to sheathe your weapon in order to free your hands.
What separates Tenchu from other ninja games, even more than the emphasis on stealth instead of action, is the ever present grappling hook that the main character wields during the game. That, and the level of gore.
Battered and bloodied
The weapons list in Tenchu Z stays more or less the same as in the others, with the aforementioned grappling hook used to navigate the levels, but the game also sports explosives as well as daggers and katanas, to name a few. And while these weapons all come in handy when dealing with enemies and the expected strategy elements, it looks like you can make your way through the earlier levels without using many items against enemies.
The AI so far does not look that impressive, with enemies quickly forgetting about your existence if you run around a corner or hide behind some boxes. This will prove helpful for gamers who aren't familiar with stealth-based games, but for those more mature gamers who want a realistic ninja experience, it can be a point against Tenchu Z.
But in order to counter the apparent lack of difficulty, developer K2 LLC has raised the gore level to outstanding heights. Blood spurts from open wounds, limbs fall off, and mayhem is released when you attack from the shadows that are your second home. This also increases the age rating of the game, though it hasn't be set as of yet.