Shinobido: Way of the Ninja

Shinobido: Way of the Ninja offers a unique story, but its so-so controls and repetitive missions make it a game only for those with patience and perseverance.


6.8
CNET Rating
8.7
User Rating


Shinobido: Way of the Ninja is game that you've pretty much played before. Its ninja-based hijinks will be familiar to anyone who's played a Tenchu game in the last few years, while its stealth components won't be a shock to any Splinter Cell veterans. Shinobido to its credit does offer a unique progression tree which gives you branching story possibilities, but its so-so controls and repetitive missions make it a game only for those with patience and perseverance.

The similarities with Tenchu aren't surprising, considering the team behind Shinobido, Acquire, were the original developers behind the Tenchu series (the rights of which have now switched to FROM Software). Just like earlier Tenchu games, Shinobido is set in ancient Japan and follows the adventures of a lone ninja. You first see the game's hero, Crow, waking up alone on the banks of a river. Crow, who has no memory of who he is, stumbles onto a dilapidated shack nearby. There he finds a glowing red stone, which floods him with some of his memories when he first touches it. Confused, Crow finds a note attached to an arrow on the side of the shack. The note is penned by an unseen stranger named Onji, who explains that Crow's soul has been trapped into numerous stones scattered throughout the land of Utakata.

Like a thief in the night...

Utakata is in a state of war, with three feudal lords battling for final supremacy. Onji explains that these three feudal lords can help Crow regain the lost soul stones -- Crow now has the choice of working with the lords, or against them, in order to get back his soul.

The three-pronged story approach is one of Shinobido's highlights. Crow's shack acts as a game hub of sorts, and is where players choose missions, buy equipment and train their skills. Each of the three feudal lords will offer Crow missions to complete -- choosing and successfully completing a lord's mission will raise Crow's level of respect in that lord's eyes, while diminishing it in the others. Your actions have a direct impact on the greater power play happening in Utakata -- the power of the three feudal lords will grow or wane depending on whose missions you choose to accept.

While there are plenty of missions of offer, there's actually little variety in the type of missions you'll be asked to do. Missions fall under the broad objectives of assassination, total destruction (kill all enemies on the map), thievery (steal an object and escape), courier (deliver a document) or reconnaissance. Annoyingly, some of the maps are repeated for the same type of missions. For example, you'll often come across the same village in assassination missions, while the same walled compound will pop up time and again for thievery quests.

In a mission, Crow sports all of the usual ninja tricks, including having the ability to grapple to roofs and other high places, run along walls and generally be sneaky and quiet. As opposed to the numbers-based awareness system guards in the Tenchu series have, Shinobido features a colour-coded system which tells you how aware guards are of your presence. White means they're unaware, purple means they're on the lookout, red means they've spotted Crow while Orange means they're in pursuit but have lost sight of the player.

Mastering the stealth kill is crucial in Shinobido. If players can sneak up to an enemy undetected, Crow will perform a one-hit kill. Not that Crow is hopeless at combat -- as a ninja, he sports some cool moves and attacks. But alert guards usually call for back-up, meaning multiple enemies to deal with at once.

Trust us, you do not want to get into this situation in Shinobido.

Thankfully, guards for the most part aren't that smart in Shinobido. Most won't notice you if you're not at the same eye level as them -- making travelling by rooftops an absolute necessity. Some are also more sensitive to sounds more than others, particularly the samurai guards players will encounter in the more difficult stages.

Sadly, Crow controls pretty poorly for a ninja. Running and jumping with Crow feels fairly loose -- you never feel like you're in full control as the character often skids and turns quite poorly. We'd often run at a wall and jump to try and hang on to a ledge, only to end up doing a wall run directly into some enemies. Fleeing can also be problematic -- when Crow runs, he's susceptible to inexplicably falling after running into objects. Hardly graceful for a ninja of his calibre. Attacks don't fare much better. Crow sports some decent combos, but they tend to move him quite far in one direction. Miss a combo and enemies will often end up behind you with a free hit.

The poor in-game camera exacerbates the situation. Tapping R1 will quickly centre the camera back behind Crow, but with his movements being so floaty and imprecise it's often difficult to gain your bearings quickly. We found ourselves accidentally falling off ledges time after time simply because the camera was stuck at strange angles.

The poor controls mean stealth is even more vital to success in Shinobido. Being found by a guard usually results in quickly being surrounded. Players will find themselves undergoing plenty of trial and error runs in this game, probably more so than other stealth titles. You'll need to be patient and persevere if you want to get the most out of Shinobido.



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DravenL posted a comment   

Bring it out for the PS3 or better still create a whole new game. How long have we been waiting????? Great games should never be forgotten. Come on guys get your act together :)

T Bone
8
Rating
 

T Bone posted a review   

The Good:Ninja Assassin style games are great fun, this game just proves that. The stealth kills are great, and the story is original, uniqe, and interesting.

The Bad:Weird controls and very weird charactor voices.

A good overall game.
It has its ups, especialy in the soryline and ninjaness (is that a word?). However, the controls are awkward and the voices are seriously messed up.
All in all, it well worth playing, especialy since there are so many paths to follow in order to reach your final goal.

 

Asuka Shinobi posted a comment   

The Good:Can create other missions and having very few hidden surprises in the game

The Bad:the controller moves, some part of the music, and combos in work seriously

shinobido and tenchu are almost the same today!

kamakazi
8
Rating
 

kamakazi posted a review   

The Good:good graphics and an interesting storyline

The Bad:Ending was depressing and why did the japanese people back then sound like British outlaws of this century?

Awesome, nonetheless

The GRAR
7
Rating
 

The GRAR posted a review   

The Good:Nice graphics and atmosphere. The missions are great fun.

The Bad:Moving around and moving the camera is very awkward. Using items is also fiddly.

This is an entertaining game, but with better controls it could have been brilliant.

anaon
10
Rating
 

anaon posted a review   

ZOMG I love the game play on this. Its fast. If you like games like Tenchu you will enjoy this.

Silent Ninja
10
Rating
 

Silent Ninja posted a review   

The Good:needs strategic planning unlike other games, awesome -special moments camera- for ex: when u perform a stealth kill or drown somebody in a river..

The Bad:lesser combos... repetitive missions but its still worth it

good story line, good stealth kills

psychosis_ninja@hotmail.com
10
Rating
 

"this is a kick **** game"

psychosis_ninja@hotmail.com posted a review   

The Good:u can stealth kill peple and run up walls and pick up dead enemys swords end throw them at other enemys and graple ur way around the maps then when u finish the game u can make ur own missions thats exactly wat evry 1 wants a game that doesnt just end when u finish the story mode

The Bad:well the voices r realy weird

Anonymous
9
Rating
 

"Better than Tenchu. It has it's problems but it's pure fun!"

Anonymous posted a review   

Kay
8
Rating
 

"Better than Tenchu"

Kay posted a review   

The Good:Nice game, the view also great, the stealth also great

The Bad:Hard to control when you dash and you want to turn to left or right it looks like drifting but then you'll slipped over on the cliff and you fall. Too little combo.


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User Reviews / Comments  Shinobido: Way of the Ninja

  • DravenL

    DravenL

    "Bring it out for the PS3 or better still create a whole new game. How long have we been waiting????? Great games should never be forgotten. Come on guys get your act together :)"

  • T Bone

    T Bone

    Rating8

    "A good overall game.
    It has its ups, especialy in the soryline and ninjaness (is that a word?). However, the controls are awkward and the voices are seriously messed up.
    All in all, i..."

  • Asuka Shinobi

    Asuka Shinobi

    "shinobido and tenchu are almost the same today!"

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