Konami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: The Arcade Game and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time are classic video games that are revered by TMNT fans—and 20 years later they have yet to be surpassed. The Red Fly Studio-developed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows has elements that would place it on my imaginary TMNT Mt. Rushmore, but several issues keep it from ranking with the aforementioned Turtles titles.
New York, 10 P.M.
Out of the Shadows is one of the few Turtles games that manage to capture the dark feel that permeated the original black-and-white Mirage comics—well, at least some of it. The Fab Four are still family-friendly crime fighters, but the dark, rain-slicked urban environments recall Eastman and Laird’s early works. As you leap across rooftops, battle Foot clansmen atop speeding subway cars, and rumble in back alleys as hip hop and dubstep tracks thump in the background, you experience an urban environment that makes a suitable locale for four humanoid turtles to both live and fight.
The voice acting, however, kills any darker mood. The overly cartoonish voices irritate, as do the oft repeated lines that are rattled off during combat. Michelangelo’s “Fifth Turtle” theory’s repeated so often that at one point I began to recite it word-for-word along with him.
That said, it’s fun to walk, run, parkour, and sneak through levels. Yes, sneak. The Turtles are ninjas after all, and thus have the ability to stealth crouch to get the drop on foes—albeit in a very rudimentary fashion. This isn’t Metal Gear Solid—the levels aren’t designed for lurking in shadows or waiting silently behind a dumpster. Still, you can surprise attack enemies when you aren’t in their field of vision; you’re even rewarded for stealth takedowns (Turtles don’t kill!) with bonus experience points. This XP can be used in the in-game shop to upgrade skills and weaponry.
Back Alley Brawlin’
Out of the Shadows, on the surface, appears just another post-Akham Asylum/Arkham City brawler, but digging deeper reveals a combat system that rewards the strategic. Each Turtle has his own feel and fighting style. The fun-loving Michelangelo, for example, is swift and acrobatic. Raphael, on the other hand, is a darker Turtle with a close-combat style that’s highlighted by hard-hitting melee attacks. These personality-based physical traits extend to taunting, too. For example, if Leonardo taunts before going into battle, the team receives a stat buff that gives the Turtles a combat advantage.
You can button-mash decent combos, but learning how to juggle, execute combo-extenders, and utilize the three-tiered super-meter gives the fighting much-needed weight. The counter system’s also deeper than it initially appears; you can, of course, simply counter an attack, but as you level up your turtle’s defense, you can pull off impressive moves. Donatello, for example, can counter by blocking an incoming attack with his bo staff and then calling in another Turtle as a damage-dealing assist. That’s Out of the Shadow’s shining light; the Turtles fight as a team and it feels good.
Low-level grunts are a cakewalk, but boss-level enemies can wipe the floor with your team. Reviving a fallen turtle requires that you have pizza in your inventory and press two buttons simultaneously. It can be difficult to execute when the Foot is buzzing about, plus inventory items are locked to a Turtle—you don’t share them as a team. Out of the Shadows lets solo players switch between turtles on the fly, but it also supports two-player local co-op and four-player online turtle action.
But all is not well in the sewers. Set pieces are broken up by cut scenes that mesh badly when compared with the in-game visuals. The cut scenes are static, simply drawn comic book-like panels that lack the detail found in the character models.
The game’s hacking mini-games are even worse. Every now and then, you’ll stumble across an electronic door/gate that needs to be “hacked” so that the Turtles can proceed to the next area. The hacking process takes the form of puzzle mini games that aren’t particularly difficult, but are aggravating as they slow the game’s pace. They’re completely out of place, and seem like tacked on attempts to give the game extra depth.
Straight from the Sewers
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows has a fun fighting engine at its core, but everything that surrounds it feels half-baked. I’d like to see Red Fly Studio take a second stab at the license as there’s clearly lot of potential here—I’d just like to see that potential realized.
|OS Compatibility||Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8|
|ESRB Rating||T for Teen|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc