TMNT: Out of the Shadows

Posted On: 8/31/2013  Publisher: Activision

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Turtle Power is back and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are the final installment for Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade promotion. For those of you that keep up on the latest gaming news you’ll know that there are two Turtles games coming out this year. This is the digital title, TMNT: Out of the Shadows developed by Red Fly Studios and published by Activision. The other title is a retail release also published and by Activision and based on the Nickelodeon animated series and comes out in October.

Ok, so that’s squared away. I got a nostalgic blast from the past the instant I fired up the game and the 90’s one hit wonder “Turtle Power” started playing. Oh come on, you remember the song from the first Turtles movie. Anyway, this game immediately got props just for the audio alone. But of course we have to play it and hopefully those props and accolades will continue. The game is a third person brawler that has you battling hordes of enemies similar to the old school side-scrolling brawlers back in the day. Co-op is definitely an advantage in this game and who honestly wouldn’t want to play co-op anyhow when you have four awesome Turtles. They are meant to fight together.

 
 

The game starts out with you briefly playing as April O’Neal, the lovely and beautiful reporter that befriended the Turtles. After a small episode and tutorial session you are quickly tossed into the main hub of the game which of course is the Turtles headquarters. Here you’ll have a host of options available to you including some classic arcade gameplay, fighting tutorials, and stats pages that allow you to see the progress of your leveling Turtles as well as level them up. And from here you can launch the Chapters and challenges from the campaign itself.

As I mentioned, this is a third person brawler so you’ll be looking over the shoulder of your Turtle at all times. During gameplay you can switch between the Turtles to capitalize on their strengths as well as your own personal fighting style. We each have our favorite Turtles but I can say they are all a blast to play as in the campaign. The basic concept of the game is to run through each level, beat up all the bad guys, rinse and repeat.

The game has an original storyline that goes with it based loosely on the comic book series, but a lot of the conversation between the Turtles in each level is drowned out by the music and background sounds. And I have to say that this is probably the first Turtles game that I actually got bored with as I rolled through the levels and took long breaks when not playing. But from what I saw, you are not missing too much other than some appearances by your favorite TMNT characters. There are some collectibles to find scattered throughout the levels so be sure to at least be looking for those if you can get past the clunky camera. But I do have to say that the game does not do a very good job directing you where to go next. I spent more time looking where I needed to go next than actually fighting and that was frustrating. A directional arrow or a task list would have helped greatly. If you are stuck, look for hacking panels to progress in the game. That's usually the key.

 
 

Outside of the campaign you’ll have a few modes you can compete in as a single player or team up with some friends. There are challenges, a classic mode and an arcade mode that you can check out as well as an HQ full of interesting information to look at. The HQ is also where you can train with Splinter to learn new fighting moves and you can also level up your Turtles by applying skill points to each character’s skill tree. Things like strength and abilities can be increased to make the game a little easier to roll through.

Visually, the game is a bit of a mixed bag. At times the game can look phenomenal and then other times you’ll get a clunky camera and very dark shadows and weird reflections. I love the art design overall and the turtle characters look fantastic. What I didn’t care for was the old school style and movements of the enemies and there were times when their animations looked downright horrible. Especially if they were running because they looked as though they had something stuck up their butt. I like the comic book style interludes that tell the story and then bleeds straight into the gameplay. And the Turtle character models looks great as well as some of the environments. At times it got a little too dark and the camera could be extremely clunky and atrocious more times than not. So yes, there is good and bad to the games visuals.

The audio is great and as I mentioned earlier the inclusion of the Turtle Power song is pure brilliance. The dialogue among the Turtles is pretty good and I did not hear a lot of repetitive dialogue. With that being said though, at times the dialogue between the Turtles was difficult to hear when running around a level. The audio looping in the background is upbeat and catchy but over time you’ll tire of the same beats.

 
 

The game pays tribute to the older generation’s version of the Turtles back to when they were originally created in the first comic book. You do know that dates all the way back to 1984 right? Movies, games and cartoons have followed and Nickelodeon now has an animated series of its own for present day fans. Throughout the game you’ll see nods to the original turtles and things that made them famous over the years and fan favorites. The classic mode that puts the game in complete black and white is a great addition as well as the mode where all the Turtles where red bandanas. You do know they originally wore all red rather than their own distinct colors, right?

My overall opinion of the game is one of an average status when I put everything together. The controls, visual hiccups and general lack of direction at times got a bit too frustrating. I know it’s just an XBLA title but with some of the titles out there I expect quite a bit more. Especially from an IP such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I can’t understand why we get mediocre titles from the TMNT franchise when there is so much content and the possibilities are endless. But alas, this one comes up a bit short in the end of my expectations. Just too many complaints about this title to say it’s a well worth your money and that’s just a tragedy. I am pretty disappointed with the final product and I have to say that prior to playing the game I was pretty excited for it. I’d love to say the game is outstanding especially with the song Turtle Power at the start screen but alas that is not the case. Check out the demo on XBLA first.

 
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