Shinobido: Way of the Ninja
Ninja’s! Who doesn’t love them? Seeing the amount of games and movies about these Japanese warriors we can make up you like it. Ninja Gaiden and Tenchu are just some examples, and also Shinobido: Way of the Ninja wants to add itself to the list of successful games with feodal Japan as setting.
To start the story with a cliché, the main character has lost his memory when he wakes up next to a river. Thanks to some spectacular intro movies and picking up a rock, it quickly becomes clear that the soul of our hero was scattered into 8 pieces of stone. Once he’s got these back he’ll be able to win back his life and understand what exactly happened.
This collecting goes through a fixed structure and in between you get the opportunity to buy and sell things in a cabin as well as take on new missions or train yourself with new weaponry and skills. Luckily this training isn’t too bad and the accessibility of the game is never that hard that you’ll be setting with your hands in your hair like in Ninja Gaiden. Also refreshing is the fact that you’re not guided by the hand but can decide for yourself which missions to accept or decline. You can also choose for which of the three warlords you want to work, or if you want to work for all three of them, and as such decide who you’ll be friends with and who your enemies will be. The latter truly heightens the replayability.
The gameplay itself reminds us of Tenchu with a lot of stealth and sneaky passages. More than enjoyable is the way you can sneak over the rooftops, have to find your way and risk your life with every step you take. Killing quietly and removing enemies is as simple as it is satisfying. In that department the game doesn’t disappoint at all and at times it’s even better than Tenchu. Other fight moves and combos, however, are a lot less well worked out.
To make things worse, it’s the camera that comes ruining the fun. All too often you touch something because you just can’t see it, and will make everyone nearby aware of your presence which endangers getting your objective done. As long as you can stay hidden, the alarmed guards will become less alerted (there are three levels) so that after a while you can leave your hiding place safely. The guards aren’t that smart either, something you’ll quickly take advantage of. The large numbers of opponents will pose a bigger threat than their intelligence.
Not taking into consideration the beautiful movies (and accompanying enjoyable story) that game looks very average. Textures are blurred and also the models aren’t highly detailed or well done. The animations are little varied and not spectacular at all. In exchange you do get a lot of freedom in how you want to finish your mission, but the final feeling remains one of visual disappointment.
The freedom and stealth-related pieces of gameplay are the best aspects of the game, together with the storyline. Where the title disappoints is the lack of decent AI and a camera that shines in being frustrating. Who is looking for a Tenchu-clone will find a couple of hours of fun with this but others better look further to one of the many better stealth-games on PS2.