Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen

More than a dozen sneaky ninja stealth games down the line, you'd think that Acquire might have nailed the genre by now. And yet this rather forgettable sequel to the generally unloved 2006 PS2 title provides all the evidence to the contrary that you would ever need.

Let's start with the story. Apart from the fact that it's nonsense, it's localised with all the panache of a low budget PS1 title.

To cut to the chase, you play as a deadly assassin by the name of Zen, who's out to avenge the murder of his girlfriend.

Bizarre death triangle

But in order to exact said revenge, you find yourself caught up in a bizarre death triangle, carrying out various jobs for three conflicting factions.

As a blade for hire, you decide who to align yourself with, but it doesn't really matter a great deal. Various meaningless bars fluctuate depending on the factions' supposed loyalty to you, but you'll still be able to carry out subsequent missions regardless.

As for the missions themselves, most are presumably designed to suit the needs of on-the-move gameplay. They usually involve little more than hopping daintily across rooftops, taking out a few semi-conscious sentries en route to - say - picking up a package, or executing a specific target.

Whatever you end up doing, within a matter of minutes you'll find yourself doing it again, albeit with slightly varied mission conditions, such as making it through the area undiscovered.

The monotony is occasionally broken up by the arrival of a new death-dealing manoeuvre, or a gadget, but these extras do little to break up the overriding sense of playing a game rooted firmly in the design mechanics of 1999.

Some of Shiniobido 2's potential appeal lies in the supposed sense of freedom you get from being able to either use brute force or stealth to achieve your aims, but it soon becomes apparent that hand-to-hand combat is far from an ideal option.

Going head to head with an unhelpful camera system, you'll constantly be wrestling with the controls to keep your opponents in sight, and slashing wildly without much success.

The trail of dead

Far more effective is the game's stealth assassination system, which makes it possible to easily stride up behind dim-witted sentries and put them out of their misery. And when that's not an option, it's simple enough to pounce from above or lure them into one of your traps before taking them out with a one-button slash to the throat.

In amongst all of this clinical drudgery, the game holds up reasonably well from a technical perspective, but its spartan environments aren't the sort that will have you rushing to show off to your pals.

There's nothing irredeemably terrible about Shinobido 2: Revenge Of Zen, but you have every right to expect a lot more for £34.99.

If you've somehow acquired a peculiar taste for this unambitious old skool brand of stealth adventuring over the years, then Shinobido 2 may well serve as a strangely comforting reminder of previous generations.

But if you're expecting cutting edge thrills to show off your brand new PS Vita with, you'll find its presence in the launch line-up something of a puzzle.

Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen

Mediocre stealth action is the order of the day in this forgettable sequel
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