Very easy to get spotted by enemies
Stealth kill merit is frustrating
Don't get me wrong, I love the Tenchu series and have played it loyally since the first one came out for PS1. This installment however is just too frustrating and difficult to bother with.
First off, they removed Rikimaru from the story and have not subbed in any kind of male playable replacement. Supposedly this takes place between 1 and 3 when it was thought that Rikimaru was dead. The females, Rin and Ayame are setup with waaay to much sex appeal. I like sexy chicks as much as the next guy but there comes a point where it's more fun to play a female who is truly skillful and doesn't conform to the popular cliche of being a "scantly clad hot babe". For me Ayame was this for the past 3 installments of Tenchu. Skillful with a sharp tongue, she carried about an appeal of its own without being some DOA knockoff. This Tenchu has her mostly the same but she runs around with a little more loose clothing and her bust is too large for her own good. Rin, the new character is well designed and has an impressive VO for her. What ruins her is the atrocious storyline.
The story doesn't really follow a plot other than a loosely tied quest for revenge. Rin's village gets burned, Rin goes to kill the people who did it. Ayame doesn't really play a role in the affair and doesn't even have to be there. Ayame is hardly involved is her presence there has nothing to do with the Azuma clan nor with Goda's estate. There are tons of holes in the plot (like how Rin becomes associated with a band of sword-for-hires) and all in all is just poorly put together. Each prologue for the next mission ends with the narrator saying "justice will be dealt with a crimson flash" or something along those lines. It's totally corny.
Tenchu's musical score could have been improved upon as well. While there are some nice tracks (notably ones with the guitar) most tracks sound like something out of a Fat Albert 70s album. Thus far, nothing has come close to the standard set in the first one. The voices are terrible as well, only Rin's voice halfway passes off as anything believable. Everyone else just sounds terrible (at least the older games had some funny VOs, this one is just bad).
The difficulty of this game is ridiculously hard and the scoring is way off balance. Getting a decent score requires hours and hours of playing the same level over and over, essentially making it impossible to get a good score. The AI is so much more intelligent that if you're caught just once you can kiss any chance of a decent score goodbye. Where in previous installments you could still earn merit for being spotted a number of times, this version has it so that no merit is earned at all for not being spotted and any kind of visual contact from the enemy to you will result in a decreased overall score. That combined with how quickly the enemy can respond and its hawkeye vision makes this game too difficult. There are a lot of old tricks that just can't be done anymore but in my opinion should be available. For example, before you could await an enemy around a corner by placing your back on the adjacent wall and wait for him to walk by (and then sneaking on him from the side or behind). In this version the AI is so intelligent and responsive that there's simply no chance of a stealth kill, his field of vision as well as vision depth is superior. More or less, each stealth kill has to be performed behind the back or from above otherwise there's too great a risk. Furthermore, the enemy AI can (and often does) whistle for help, so anyone nearby will come running and spot you. This will often place one encounter into a 3-4x fight with opponents which is not only insanely difficult but completely obliterates your score and any chance of scoring much needed items after the mission. All this because of one simple mistake, you have to restart the level (or are at least better off by doing so). The result is that the game nearly forces you to constantly repeat the same levels to acquire more items for later levels. It gets to the point where you must not only memorize the enemy positions but also must know which direction they're going to turn with.
To add to the games demise, each stealth kill will prompt the enemy to drop scrolls which in time collectively open up new abilities. While it's an innovative idea, it's also frustrating because you have to not only do the kill but be able to pick up the scroll dropped and spend more time than you should to get credit for something you've already done. The fact that you have to collect the scroll within a time window opens you up to being spotted which often happens while doing this.
The graphics are more crisp and sharp, a lot of the details are the same from the last one but more refined. The starlit sky looks beautiful and the rain effects are very well done. Lighting is excellent in the game. Basically, it's very visually appealing and has improved a lot in that respect from its predecessors.
Being able to do a double kill can be a lot of fun if done right. You basically position yourself between two close by enemies and your character will perform an attack that kills both of them quickly and silently.
Apart from some bits of slowdown, movement is very fluid and smooth.
The list of available and unlockable weapons has improved. Being able to use a "cannon" to down enemies can be fun. There's also some unique items such as the blowdart+bell combo. Basically you use your blowdart to fire a small bell at a wall, the enemy reacts to this and will calmly walk over to your targeted point to investigate further.
Overall I would suggest this game only if you were a diehard Tenchu fan. It still retains its core elements and has its moments but for the most part I just wasn't impressed by this release.