Gameplay: Fighting, Stealth
Published by: Activision Publishing
Developed by: Acquire Corp.
Platform: PlayStation (PSX, PS1)
In 1998, one of the most original and largely innovative games came out, namely Tenchu. Without superfluous embellishments, we can say that Activision and Sony managed to create an excellent game about the ninja, in which the basis was patience and imperceptibility - rather rare features for video games.
Two years later Activision, having updated many elements of the game process, released Tenchu II: Birth of the Assassins. And it looks like this game, despite its natural limitations in graphics, has become another gem in the PlayStation crown. The second part of the saga about the most inconspicuous killers can not be described as "short" or "plotless". Such words are applicable only to the first part, but not to the second. In Birth of the Assassins there is a narrative in the form of movie clips in-game scenes throughout the game. You are told about the fall of the House of Gohda, about the dawn of the new "evil" ninja Clan Burning Dawn, and all this in order for you to feel like inside the game and not just control one of the characters, and live it. And the most amazing thing is that it works out. The narrative narratives "crash" into the gameplay almost constantly: each level begins and ends with a movie, every battle with the boss is preceded by a sketch, sometimes there are even scenes between two movie clips that can drag on for a few minutes. I do not advise you to skip these stories, because through them you will learn the stories of the main characters.
Rikimaru, Ayame and Tatsumaru, and the stories of all three are completely different. By the way, to learn all the details of the plot, you need to go through the game for all three. Given that for Rikimaru and Ayame you have to go through 10 missions, and for Tatsumari 7 more, you get a very long, story-rich game. In this Tenchu II slightly bypasses its predecessor. As part of the game process, all the good from the first game is also good in the second. All innovations in no way spoil the process, and even organically supplement it. Each of the characters has a lot of movements, which directly affects the beauty of the battles. The developers of the game acted wisely, determined not to change the basis of the hit game and only adding new aspects. Whether you choose Ayame with her two knives or Rikimaru, armed with a katana, the goal of the game does not change: move carefully and imperceptibly, kill quietly and carry out your task, whatever it is. The new elements added to the game are quite natural. The first thing, undoubtedly, suggested in the new game is the new adaptations for the ninja. Now you can use blinding dust that makes the enemy an easy prey, or special magical leaves that carry you past the back of the enemy. Poisoned arrows, mines and some other "goodies" organically complement the existing arsenal, giving you more options for action. You can select these items from the corpses of defeated enemies or get for the performance of the mission to "excellent". A large number of different methods of planting enemies on metal makes the passing of levels akin to a real Hollywood movie. There is everything that my dearest likes: attacks from above, from a turn, from the side, and also combinations of movements. By the way, do not forget to mention that now the hook with the rope can be fixed only on the edge of the roof and nowhere else. So to say, enough to jump along the street, using not legs, but a long rope. Perhaps one of the most significant innovations is the ability to swim.
Wow, how many tactical options gives this opportunity, for example, to get close to the enemy, standing on the pier, out of the water and, quietly cutting it, throw off the mortal body in the same water. Good developers even gave the opportunity to breathe underwater with the help of a tube. But there is in this charming business one small, but very nasty hitch: the character flops into the water with such a sound that any guard in the multi-meter radius notices it. Therefore, if there is a choice, whether to go to water or on land, usually the choice falls on land. In general, we wanted the best ... But perhaps the most interesting component of both parts of Tenchu is the battle system. If you think it's right to open one-on-one fight, you will have to reconsider your views. In Tenchu, an open battle in most cases leads to the death of a character.
Still, keep in mind that your character is a ninja trained for stealth and lethality, so use all the tricks from your sleeve: run, hide, attack from the shadows and go back there. Note that opponents against you will use almost the same means, so the main motto of pioneers here also plays an important role. And do not forget: the better and the more imperceptibly you act, the higher your score, and the better the items will get to you after the end of the next mission.
Smoothly move on to the conversation about the bosses, which in the second part is much more. Bosses will meet you at the end of each level, and with each new level they will become smarter, faster and angrier. In addition, they will increase the level of equipment, that is, in each new mission against you will be used increasingly powerful stuff from the arsenal of ninjas. The worst thing is that you are not allowed to survive before the battle with the boss, therefore, having lost it, you have to go through the level anew. And here there is a disastrous feature: with each re-entry to the level you will receive less useful things, and the quality of enemies will grow. It seems to be the other way round: the worse you play, the easier enemies, but not fate ... Probably by the end of the game everyone will already be a well-trained ninja with excellent reflexes. By the way, the reverse side of increasing the abilities of the character is to improve the intelligence of enemies, which are now noticed by the bodies lying on the ground. I did not accidentally mention earlier about dropping a body into the water. This is another innovation of the second part, which makes you even more sweat. If you stand on the side of the head of the body lying on the ground and press the combination of R2 and "Circle", you can take this corpse and drag it to some unremarkable place, where it will be found only by flies. But only to find the right position relative to the corpse is extremely difficult. I do not know from what reasons it was complicated, but sometimes there are times when you stand over the body for five minutes trying to grab it ...
I think I need to say a few words about the game schedule. The whole point of Tenchu is moving from one dark corner to the other, hiding behind the walls and cutting a sip. The latter is decorated at the highest level with the use of various cameras showing this event. On the screen streams of shelter are flowing, and all this is in some sense relished, but does not cause a negative reaction. Levels are much longer in space, and most of them are located in the fresh air. Unfortunately, here you can see the limited PlayStation in the graphics area. Even given the increased viewing range, you still will not see everything. In fact, this is not important, because you will still have no time to look at the horizon, in addition, such a limitation gives some element of surprise, causing you to act even more cautiously. If you do not see what is in front, it's better to go quieter.
Models of all characters do not cause complaints. They are well detailed, their shape is close to human, and their movements do not cause feelings of disgust. Perhaps, the characters are a little smoother for the impression of low-poly reflection, although we should not forget that this is the first generation of the PlayStation, and we've already seen more "cool" graphics on new high-end consoles. Well, and finally, to the question of sound effects and music. Most of the sounds that you hear in the game depend on the readings of the "silence" counter. "Who is there?" Or "We are attacked!" - this is what you will basically hear throughout the game. Apart from these cries, the whistles of arrows and death throats, Tenchu is a quiet game, and that's it's good. As for music, there are national Japanese motifs, but if in the first part they were quiet, slow and somewhat frightening, then here are used tense and somewhat loud variations. Let's just say, the music of the first part gave a better atmosphere of death, which appears from nowhere, but this does not mean that in the second part everything is really so bad, just a little unusual.
Summarizing all of the above, we come to the conclusion that Tenchu II: Birth of the Assassins is a great game and will take its proper place in the history of the PlayStation. Of course, the game is not perfect, but life experience tells us that it is almost impossible to achieve an ideal. All the observed shortcomings are more than compensated for by numerous advantages, not simply being covered, but rather simply being reduced to nothing. In general, this game is a balm for the soul of an inveterate ninja and an excellent guide for beginners. We proudly attach the label "Must have" and throw the cry: "You give a high place in the features of Tenchu II: Birth of the Assassins!" Evaluation. Graphics 8, Sound 9, Management 8, Gameplay 9, Originality 6. Overall score 8.5.