There are few things everyone can agree on. Welsh corgis are cute, black licorice tastes weird (even if you like it), and the Ninja Turtles are awesome. Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo and Raphael have been kicking robot, ninja, mutant and alien butt for the better part of three decades. This, however, puts a lot of pressure on a Ninja Turtles video game. Especially considering that the TMNT franchise has spawned a dozen games, many of which are very highly regarded.
Does Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows for Xbox Live Arcade stand its ground? Or does it fail to be totally radical?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™: Out of the Shadows
Publisher: Activision Publishing
Developer: Red Fly Studio
Platform: Xbox LIVE® Arcade, PlayStation®Network & Windows-PC
Players: 1-4 players: Story Mode (1-4 players online, 1-2 players local), Challenge Mode (single
player), Arcade Mode (1-4 players local)
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Release Date: XBLA & Steam – August 28, 2013; PSN – September 24, 2013
GAMEPLAY AND CONTROLS: STUFF I LIKED
Good graphics, good action, good customization.
Complicated story, sometimes difficult to navigate, story starts out complicated.
OOTS is very easy to play by simply mashing buttons, something I see as a definite plus. As you advance through the game the potential options available to you increase in complexity, which allows hardcore gamers to customize their experience, while more casual players can continue to mash away. I greatly enjoyed the ability to switch between turtles, even in the middle of a fight. Once you get more comfortable with the game this actually allows you to combo different moves from different turtles together. The character options as you level up are very complex, allowing for deep customization of each character. The characters are extremely mobile, you can roll under doors, climb up fences, slide down banisters, flip over ledges all without losing the game’s momentum.
GAMEPLAY AND CONTROLS: STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE
Some of my issues with the game are closely related to the the stuff I liked. For example that mobility is great, but it was very frustrating to clear the enemies in an area and then have no indication of how to move forward; the game never gives you any sort of arrow, map or similar guideline. I spent a good 15 minutes doing backflips in an alley until I realized I was supposed to climb up a bus. Add to that the fact that sometimes your turtle brothers will get in your way and block the exit and you have a recipe for me switching over to netflix instead.
The character customization is cool, but you have to manage four different characters. I often found myself overwhelmed and couldn’t remember which stats I had bumped on which turtle. This, I’m sure, goes away with time and experience, but as a very casual player I often found myself trying to keep the turtles as similar as possible. Which, I think, is the opposite of what I should have been doing.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Sound effects and music are great, it’s exactly what you’d hope for in a modern action game. The only sound problem is that sometimes the music’s a little too loud and it’s hard to hear the dialogue. Also sometimes the “banter dialogue” will continue over a cut scene, which leaves us with Leonardo loudly extolling the virtues of leadership while Donatello is desperately trying to tell me which security console I should be interacting with.
The look of the game is very cool. It’s a little dark, but you can always see where your turtle is. The animation is fast and well done, and aside from some hand-drawn still cut scenes the game’s look is very tight. It is strange to think that these are supposed to be the same turtles from the current Nickelodeon show. They look a thousand times more realistic. This isn’t really a problem though, since the look of the game world is internally consistent.
The first character you get to play is April O’Neil. Something I was very happy about. Of course that happiness ended as she gets immediately kidnapped by ninjas.
Then we flash back to earlier and actually start the game. This was somewhat weird for me since I kept forgetting about the flashback, and got confused every time April called in with a tutorialesque tip. On top of that the story itself is somewhat complicated; The Foot is dealing with the Purple Dragons and the Krangs are maybe fighting with both of them? It all gets straightened out later, but it’s difficult to follow at first.
That said the dialogue of the characters is fantastic, in fact I really want to watch more of the Nickelodeon show if the turtles’ interactions are even half as funny as they are in the game.
THE VERDICT: IT’S OK.
All around this is a fun action game, it allows for customization and will appeal to old pros and new kids alike. Aside from a few potentially frustrating map-based snags there is not much wrong with it. The dialogue between the turtles shines (especially if you turn the music down) and really gives you a feel for the character’s personalities.
I’m giving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows three out of five stars. A fine game and a decent addition to your Ninja Turtles games collection.