Tenchu: Return From Darkness - Xbox

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Tenchu: Return From Darkness (Xbox)
Viewed: 3D Third-person, floating camera Genre:
Beat 'Em Up
Strategy: Stealth
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: K2 Soft. Co.: Activision
Publishers: Activision (GB)
Released: 19 Mar 2004 (GB)
Ratings: BBFC 15
Connectivity: Xbox Live
Accessories: Communicator Headset


This latest instalment of the long running stealth-em-up series marks the first venture into Xbox territory, with 2003's PS2 title Wrath of Heaven finally being ported to Microsoft's big black/green/crystal box. As a result, Return From Darkness is the most graphically accomplished of the Tenchu titles, and also the first to benefit from online functionality, thanks to Xbox Live support.

The game is set in the 1570s - one year after the original Tenchu PSX game - and offers you the chance to take on the roles of ninjas Rikimaru, Ayame and the mysterious Tesshu, as they battle the evil Tenrai and his six lords of darkness. As with previous instalments, the emphasis is on stealth (silent assassins, right?) so the gameplay throughout involves a combination of cunning, strategy and sneaking around, as well as making use of an arsenal of deadly weaponry.

As you would expect, a wealth of new features and gameplay elements are to be found in Return From Darkness. There are eleven single-player maps to play through, including two new levels that take you to such haunts as a samurai mansion and a deserted pagoda temple. Throughout, improved gameplay balance with re-tuned AI and item placement means than you've got to use your head a little more along the way. Also, two new play functions mean that the game should appeal more to both novices and hardcore Tenchu nuts alike: Restart allows you to restart a mission with all the items previously collected, whilst Continue (for the less experienced ninja) allows you to, erm, do just that, without having to start at the beginning of the mission.

In keeping with current gaming trends, RFD boasts multiple mission paths throughout each level, giving you freedom of choice as to how to go about completing the various theft, espionage and assassination objectives. As such, crafted levels allow you to determine the most efficient way to achieve mission goals, whereas multiple game endings, based on earlier decisions in the game, ensure a fair amount of replayabilty.

As mentioned before, the Xbox Live support means that the multiplayer aspect has been opened up somewhat, allowing for two-player gaming across six levels, as well as online voice chat functionality. With both deathmatch-style and co-operative play on offer, this certainly makes for a welcome addition to the series.