Say what you
want about sequels, about watered-down gameplay or aging franchises
(lord knows I complain about them enough), there are just some concepts
that you cant wait to see make the leap from generation to generation.
For nearly two years now, ever since I took my PS2 out of its box, there
has been a voice in the back of my head saying "just think how cool
Tenchu 3 is going to be." As new information and screenshots have become
available, and after playing the early version at E3 2002, that little
voice has risen to a scream.
after the events of the first Tenchu (Tenchu 2 being a prequel), Tenchu
3: Wrath of Heaven continues the story of ninja Rikimaru and Ayame, as
well as introducing an all new playable character to the series. As
before, each characters story, abilities, and missions differ slightly,
providing three separate paths through the game.
make their way through the games huge levels in true Tenchu fashion:
prowling unseen along walls, in foliage, atop of roofs, dropping in
silently among the enemy and dispatching them in gruesome ways. As
always, stealth is the key. Making too much noise, disturbing a cat, or
otherwise putting yourself out in the open will draw the wrath of your
foes and likely get you killed. And this time the enemy will pursue you
much more aggressively, following you onto the rooftops, working in
teamswhatever it takes.
weapons and tools have been added to the Tenchu arsenal, and this time
around you can pick up and use the weapons of your vanquished foe. Kill
a guy holding a spear and it is yours. Also new to the series are
hand-to-hand combat moves including kicks and punches. Most
significantly, however, the combat system has been changed to a fully
analogue configuration. For the most part, this consists of different
combos that utilize the left analogue stick. Some moves are simple, like
pressing forward for a forward slash. Others, like rotating the stick in
a circle in order to swing your sword around take a little getting used
to. But, with practice, the unique control system becomes pretty
Also new are
the special skills that can be learned in each level. These skills are
unlocked by performing stealth kills, completing objectives, and
negotiating particularly tricky scenarios. Each successive feat will
earn you one of nine symbols, or ninja codecs. Get all nine and you
attain a new skill. However, if you are discovered by the enemy or kill
a civilian, you lose all of your symbols. The new skills then allow you
to go back and open areas in previous levels that you couldnt get to
before. I was told by the representative on the E3 show floor that they
are working on including a move in which you cut yourself and play
deadlying there, bleeding, in wait. If an enemy falls for your ruse,
and comes over to check you out, you can quickly perform a killing move.
How cool is that?
most exciting additions to Tenchu 3 are the multiplayer options. Now you
can play with a friend on five unique multiplayer levels in either
cooperative, team-based missions, or in the Hunter-Hunted death match
games. The skills earned in the single-player levels can be used in the
multiplayer mode as well.
Wrath of Heaven is certainly one of the most anticipated games coming to
the PS2 in the next year. Unlike most games that jump to the new systems
boasting only a facelift and better sound, Tenchu 3 is truly taking the
series to the next level: bigger, badder, more articulate and
intelligent. Plus, it has the better graphics and sound thing going for
it too. Look for it to hit the shelves sometime in the first quarter of