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Tenchu 2
"This is a very challenging and interesting game which will take much time to master - its not a speedy run-through-the-levels game"
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Developer  Sony ME Game Type  Strategy
Distributor  Activision Preview Date  Sep 00
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      As with the first Tenchu, T2's gameplay is very simple and at the same time very deep.. There are two options to choose from. The first is to start playing the standard missions. The second is to create your own custom mission screens. This is for those creative minds who wish to challenge themselves even beyond the game settings. As you might suspect, this adds immense re-playability to the title.

The standard mission screen will pop up after scanning your memory card. If there are previous missions saved, you will be able to select from them here. The only one you'll see to start is the training mission and of course your character selection will be to play as either Rikimaru or Ayame. This mission will help you grasp the different controls for the character.

No surprise here, but each mission gets more difficult than the next. And how you kill your enemies affects your score, which, in turn, affects the number of ninja items that you are rewarded with and can carry into the next mission.

The controls are easy to work with. You can use the thumbstick or directional buttons interchangeably. You will appreciate the more precise movement of the directional buttons in certain areas.

Once into the main game, if you play as Rikimaru, you will have to free a village of its thieves, then kill the ringleader in a Shinto palace. You will see that finding and killing the enemies in the village is pretty easy, but you wont last very long unless you sneak around. I liked the fact that several areas had little tin cow bells strung out across the ground. If you walk into them you set off an alarm of clanking metal and instantly alert the nearby occupants.

Keep in mind that if you fail in your mission and try again, the items you used in the last mission are not available anymore. You will find yourself out of some important items as you keep trying. If everything is depleted, it's best to start the training mission all over again to get your "stuff" back. Or you can just quit and not save.

Each level has certain areas of canned video that helps to tell the story. You can thankfully bypass the video when it starts, but you still have to wait for it to load. These little interludes can be helpful at first, but become a time-wasting pain after a while.

There also is no way to save if you stop in the middle of a mission. You can pause, but that's it. I would have liked to be able to save just before the Shinto palace so I could just keep trying to kill the ring leader, but that was not an option. Oh well.

One other main feature of this game is the missions differ completely depending on which character you choose to play as. This is intended and they do both converge as you move through the missions, but now you get to see the story unfold from different perspectives and alternate missions. This adds another wrinkle and increases the playing time and interest to you the gamer. You will also get treated to a third controllable character named Tatsumaru, who kicks some major ass!

Finally, there is the level / mission editor. This addition is a real joy to behold. Here you can set up entirely original missions complete with enemies, objectives and terrain layout. I was surprised at just how thorough the editor was and found myself absorbed for hours creating new and challenging missions to guide my character through.

Game Options:
• Number of Disks: 1
• Number of blocks used on Memory card per save: 1
• Maximum number of Players (without a multi-tap): 1
• Multi-tap compatible (max players): No
• Link-cable compatible (max players): No
• Split screen multi-player option (max players): No
• Other accessories: No
• Dual Shock Pad Digital Button compatible: Yes
• Dual Shock Pad Analog Stick compatible: Yes
• Dual Shock Pad Vibration compatible: Yes

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Staff Opinions
Tom D   "This prequel to the original Tenchu does a good job of building on the previous game. If you are new to Tenchu, your learning curve will just be higher. This is a very challenging and interesting game which will take much time to master - its not a speedy run-through-the-levels game, you definitely have to hone your skills and "think like a Ninja" to be successful and really excel. How you get through the levels is as important as completing them. This game will provide many hours of enjoyment and frustration as you master the art of the Ninja."
Graphics  15/20
Playability  45/50
Sound  8/10
Lastability  18/20
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