When I heard about Tenchu coming to the Xbox 360 and having online play, I will admit that I was excited. I have played numerous Tenchu titles from the original Sony Playstation to the Sony Playstation 2. When it first came out in 1998, it was innovative. You played the role of a ninja who was fighting corruption in feudal Japan by assassinating officials. Players would use stealth and a variety of weapons to overcome being spotted by guards and eventually reach the target. Fast forward to 2007 and we have the eight iteration of the Tenchu series called Tenchu Z exclusively for the XBOX 360.

Tenchu and Xbox 360 go hand in hand, thereby providing a double treat to its aficionados as the latest cheat codes would end up boggling the minds of players who won’t be able to tell it apart from the previous versions. The popularity of tenchu can be gauged from the fact that poker online has been rendered obsolete ever since the launch of the new version.

Tenchu Z is different from others in the series by allowing the player to create his own original ninja from a series of templates. By playing the game, players can acquire or purchase new items of clothing and accessories to wear. Also, players can purchase a variety of weapons/tools to aid them in their mission such as poisoned blowgun, shuriken, etc. Special skills can be purchased that give the player an added edge to defeating the enemy, such as new sword moves or the ability to conceal one’s self against a wall and become virtually invisible. There is also 4 player cooperative play and 4 player ranked matches where players compete to complete the mission. Unfortunately, these added attributes do not make the game shine at all.

The clothing and accessories are only visual eye candy and do not impact the game in any way. Basically you can run around in a bright shiny metal armor with a flag coming out of your back and no one will be the wiser. Purchasing skills is also useless as you can beat the game even on the hardest difficulty with no added skills. The online play is abysmal, as when it comes to cooperative play, other players will rush to steal your kills in order to get more points. In ranked games, whoever kills the target first or finishes the mission first wins, so everyone either runs to the way-point or kills the target as fast as they can instead of actually playing the mission out with stealth. Also, the winner only gets 20 points per ranked game and no bonus points for killing anyone else.

The graphics in the game are Sony Playstation 2 quality, with NPC models looking blocky and having no mouth movement whatsoever. The environments look OK, but definitely not next-gen. The animations for walking sometimes glitch and you watch NPCs glide across the terrain. The AI is horrendous, guards walk in rectangular patterns and will often see you killing their peers and will continue along their path instead of attacking. If you are spotted by a guard, but then disappear in the shadows, the guard will continue as if nothing ever happened.

This game reminds me of the original Playstation game, and not in a good way. It is 2007 and a game like this should even be allowed to leave the production area in this state of disarray. Unfortunately, much like many fans of the series, I was suckered into paying for it, (luckily only $30 on Ebay) and have since left it to collect dust.

When are game developers going to learn that rushed, shoddy workmanship is unacceptable?

The answer to that question is under our own noses.

We as consumers need to stop buying these crap games in order to reduce their revenue and show them that quality counts.

My advice to everyone is to rent these games before you buy, because I am lately seeing a trend of a lot of garbage games and very few gems.