As Morrissey once sang, “It’s so easy to hate, it takes guts to be gentle and kind” so it is that I take on one of the difficult things I’ve ever had to do – find something positive to say about this unmitigated disaster of a video game.

Quite often when beginning a review, I like to draw upon some relatable personal anecdote as a framing device and to give a sense of the way in which I felt having played the game. That proves tricky this time however, since I’ve never, say, lost an arm to a band-saw or some similar significant industrial accident.

Oh well, let’s dive in shall we?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles appeared from a comic book idea from the 1980s. The fact that we’re still seeing new products around featuring them today is a testament to how fondly remembered the IP is and what a strong brand the Turtles are.

it's a 3D brawler - where lots of time and budget has gone into the lead character design and voice acting leaving nothing left for anything else

it’s a 3D brawler – where lots of time and budget has gone into the lead character design and voice acting leaving nothing left for anything else

Four anthropomorphic turtles that can do kung-fu; Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello were, ‘transformed from the norm by the nuclear goo’ and trained to fight evil by a talking rat.

Because of reasons.

Obviously, being man-turtles, they live in an underground base, eat pizza and spout meaningless clichéd dialogue at one another until their reporter friend April O’Neal gets herself kidnapped by spiky helmeted douche Shredder – whereupon our green heroes use Turtle Power to save the day.

There, now you’re fully caught up with the lore, you’re no doubt interested to hear about the game that has been built around it.

*sigh*

So, like most dull licensed shovelware, it’s a 3D brawler – where lots of time and budget has gone into the lead character design and voice acting leaving nothing left for anything else.

Visually it’s a showcase for lack of inspiration. THRILL! As you visit sewers, underground railways, city rooftops and – YES – a car park in your bid to rescue the damsel in distress. GASP! As the low res textures of the world and poor enemy models are masked by pointless particle effects from fighting. SIGH! as once again your turtle clips through a wall or door and occasionally gets stuck in the floor. WEEP! as you realise that the blows from combat for the most part don’t connect at all.

Ah yes, the combat. Evidently the developers had recently been playing Batman: Arkham Asylum or City, since the combat tries to rip it off wholesale. The enemy lights up a colour depending on the type of attack it’s going to unleash and then you need to press the block button. Although – it doesn’t quite work like that. Button presses are unresponsive and lead to spamming – so blocking and countering doesn’t feel like it should. Whilst Batman’s combat was fluid and satisfying, OOTS’ combat is wishy-washy and floaty. It doesn’t help that the game is so damn easy either – there is literally no skill involved besides hammering the attack button and then jumping/rolling out-of-the-way. Sure, that probably isn’t what the developer intended you to do – but I will always take the path of least resistance on a first play-through.

Right – what else?

The combat taking massive cues from Batman: Arkham Asylum or City

The combat taking massive cues from Batman: Arkham Asylum or City

The voice acting (whilst well captured and acted) is repetitive and teeth-grindingly cheesy. The worst of it is that the voices can be ridiculously out of synch with the events on-screen – characters pontificating on their desire to adopt a child whilst being kicked to death by giant robots for example. The voice work does do a good job of conveying the characters of the turtles swiftly, but for the love of all that is holy – I KNOW MICHELANGELO LIKES PIZZA! You don’t need to hammer it home to me at 5 minute intervals throughout the course of the game with the same line of dialogue repeated ad nauseam; particularly not when he’s fighting a massive 3-headed mouser mech thing.

Now a question. Why do developers insist upon unskippable cut scenes? I would rather be beaten to death by a madman armed with a frozen chicken wing than have to sit through the same tired exposition twice. In TMNT, they’ve decided that some comic-esque scenes would be an interesting way to tell the story. They aren’t. Putting comic book frames around some pictures doesn’t fool me – this is still facile story telling that 5 year olds would feel condescended by. It doesn’t help that a couple of the turtles look weirdly malformed – Donatello in particular reminded me of a green version of the baby alien from the end of Alien Resurrection and I could have done without thinking about that on top of playing this, thank you.

While I’m at it, would it have been so hard so have given us a direction arrow or a minimap for the game? You see, this is one of those titles that requires you to trigger a cut scene before you can advance to the next section – but it doesn’t make it clear where you need to stand, or often what you need to do in order to progress. So thanks, game – I love wandering around your poorly designed levels looking for one enemy I missed or a corner to stand in to allow me to make progress. Even better is that the game sets up early on that some walls and ladders etc. can be climbed if they glow yellow. That’s true – but sometimes you can climb things that aren’t glowing, so that means you get to spend the whole game rolling up against walls as you try to figure out exactly which bit of the scenery you’re allowed to interact with this time.

Still, I did say at the beginning that I wanted to show some guts and find positive things to talk about.

Um.

You can level up your Turtles.

I found one guy in my thankfully brief online session who had reached level 127 with his turtles. I got to level 17 on my play through. I hate to think how many times he’s played this, sobbing, chewing his controller, thinking ‘oh god, I could have bought Arkham Asylum for about 3 quid.’

The achievements are quite easy to get

The achievements are quite easy to get

Levelling up means unlocking some power moves, team moves and taunts which is a nice idea and –  if it had been part of a robust fighting system – could have worked well. As it is, the fighting is too hit and miss for you to feel like deploying much past the basic combos and specials.

Positive… positive…

Ah ha! I’ve got something! The achievements are quite easy to get – and there’s like 400 gamerpoints on offer. So there you go – if your gamerscore means anything to you, you should be able to get a relatively straightforward 400 points and 100% this title. If you don’t claw out your own eyes with the tedium of it all first, mind you.

There we go – super positive! I feel good now, time to relax and have dinner.
*looks in freezer

Hmm – what have we got in here then…PIZZA?

Noooooooooooo!

Review - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
The good... sort of
  • Uses the actual Turtle voices
  • Easy achievements
  • No Turtles were harmed in the making of this video game
The bad
  • Boring, unresponsive combat
  • Looks like a game from the beginning of the generation, not the end
  • Utterly anticlimactic ending
25%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0%

About The Author

Karlos Morale is a new writer to the Xboxer fold but certainly not new to gaming and writing about games. Karlos is an avid multiformat gamer with a special place in his heart for all the Xbox iterations. Whether it's reappraising classic titles or devouring the latest games, his passion is gaming, news and discussion!