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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Red Fly Studio
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Action/ Arcade

Graphics & Sound:

I really didn't know what to expect with this one. Ask anyone and they'll tell you that there have been a lot of TMNT-themed games that really weren't good. So, I braced myself, downloaded the game (it's actually a pretty big download) and started the game...

The first thing to hit me was the theme song. The music used in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is the song from the end of the first TMNT movie, "T.U.R.T.L.E. Power," by Partners in Kryme. At the menu screen, it's just a loop of the intro music, but if you watch the credits, you're treated to the full song and photos of the developers with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles drawn on their noses. (Yeah - you have to see it to fully appreciate it.)

The look of the Turtles is based on the 2012 Nickelodeon TMNT series, but it's a more realistic envisioning, rather than looking just like the animated series. TMNT: Out of the Shadows has some of the feeling of the Nick series, and some feeling of the original TMNT movies, but it's not exactly like anything I've seen before. When there are cut scenes, it often changes into a 2D comic art style. Regardless, while the look is a new take on things, it's easy enough to tell who is who, and the personalities seem just about perfect, right down to banter between the Turtles when the fighting dies down a bit.

When you're stomping the Foot and trying to progress forward, there are several places in the game where it's difficult to tell which way to go. If you get close to something that you can climb or somewhere you're supposed to jump down from, it will have a golden shine effect on it, indicating you can interact with it, but you have to get close to it, first. There is nothing that indicates the direction you're supposed to go until you get close enough, however, so there are some times that I found myself running around trying to get close enough to something for it to shine and let me know which way to progress.


Gameplay:

The Story Mode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows puts you in control of those heroes on the half-shell, answering a cry for help from the young April O'Neil. (In this version, as in the Nickelodeon television show, she's 16 years old.) You'll fight bad guys in familiar areas, from the sewers to the subway tunnels and from the back alleys to the rooftops; you'll even fight atop a speeding subway train as you try to get to the bottom of things.

TMNT:OOTS is basically a 3D brawler, with move controls that are primarily based around button spamming techniques (such as hitting the (B) button several times in a row), but there are tactical aspects that help you fare better, such as using the block feature early and often and switching between the different turtles to make the best use of their individual strengths. It's fun to watch the variety of the attacks that they perform, with several variations that seem to be based on how close your opponent is and other factors; every now and then a turtle will pull off a cool move that is fitting, yet unexpected. Additionally, there are team-based attacks with two or even all four turtles.

While the team-based attacks can be used while playing alone, OOTS has some multiplayer modes which allow players to get more realistic team-based gameplay. Four players can each control a turtle in the Online Multiplayer mode, and every player has the luxury of their own screen. The local multiplayer is limited to two players and is handled by side-by-side Split-Screen gameplay, which feels cramped, as one might expect. I did have to pull J.R.Nip in to play Leo to my Donnie in order to get past the boss fight at the end of the second chapter, but while that did allow me to actually get past that level, the split screen gameplay was too cramped to play that way if I didn't need the help.

There are a few extras, and their presentation is nicely done. There is concept art to view, which is displayed on the refrigerator, Donnie's Workshop, where you can upgrade the brothers' weapons and a gym where you can upgrade their stats. All of these are different rooms in their secret lair in the sewers, and as you select a different section, the camera navigates over to that area for you to workout, view pictures or whatnot.

Another nice addition is Mikey's Arcade game, where you basically get to play a simplified side-scroller version of the game with an old-school, retro feel. You unlock additional levels in the arcade game as you complete levels in the Campaign Mode, so you may want to play the Arcade game from time to time - or just wait until you beat the game and it will all be unlocked.


Difficulty:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows starts off easy, which is a good way to start. As you proceed, the difficulty level increases, but the game introduces the new concepts you need as you go along. What can mess you up, however, is if you save your game and then forget some of the newer stuff when you go to play again. (That happened to me.) It's easy enough to look up moves, however, and the Dojo is a great place to train, either for individual training sessions or for fighting as a team.

The Shurikens (and Electric Shurikens) are easy to use, but nearly impossible to aim. They are likely to hit something, but not necessarily your intended target. Actually, that goes for attacks, in general. The context-based actions are generally awesome, but there are times when I will be facing one enemy and, perhaps, closer to another enemy and my attack will be directed at the closest enemy, rather than my intended target. This can be a minor issue, but there are some times when your intended target may be a more powerful enemy and, perhaps, temporarily vulnerable to attacks, but you can't finish them off because the game has decided your attacks should be directed at some inconsequential enemy to your left.

One thing that makes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows difficult is the various glitches. There are several little things here and there that should have been cleaned up, but weren't. Sometimes they are so minor you might not notice them, other times they're bearable or, perhaps, in your favor. However, when you're almost out of health and you're trying to get the last couple of hits on a temporarily vulnerable end boss and the game decides no to let any of your attacks actually hit, that life goes from possibly being a great (skin-of-the-shell) victory to being an epic fail. And when J.R.Nip was playing Leo and Leo died with a pizza (which restores life, duh) remaining, he attempted to use it after falling and, instead of letting him come back to life or not letting him use up the pizza, it let him use the pizza up without it doing anything. Mind you, had he not used that pizza, I could have brought him back to life and it would have used up that pizza. Frustrating.


Game Mechanics:

I don't usually look around the web at other reviews when I'm in the process of reviewing a game, but this time I was trying to find out how far along in the game I was, when I stumbled across some other reviews. I was surprised, at first, to see that other critic reviews were generally lower than I was expecting, while reader ratings were markedly higher. After looking at a couple of other reviews, it seems the most common complaint is about the glitches in the game; little bugs here and there that cause unexpected behavior.

Yes, there are a lot of little glitches here and there, but, in general, if you're just playing the game for fun, you can usually just keep playing and ignore them. I never had the game freeze on me and require a reboot (like Skyrim, among several others), never fell through the floor (like Superman 64) or went flying up into the air for no reason (Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, anyone?) and my character never got caught in the environment (too many games to count). (Well, Leo got stuck after jumping over a hole in a sewer pipe, but was able to jump back and not get stuck again.) Yes, there are a lot of glitches and I wish they weren't there, but the game is playable, the turtles' antics are great, and the variety of moves are nicely varied... there's a lot here to like.

If you're a Turtles fan, familiar with the Nickelodeon series or, perhaps, really enjoyed the Turtles movie and you're keen on the idea of playing as your favorite turtle in some old-school Brawler action in 3D (and 2D)... and you don't mind some annoying glitches here and there, then you may want to play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows; it falls short of its full potential, but at least a lot of the multitudinous glitches are ones you can work around or overlook.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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