So, this came out last month and, so far, the critical response is awful. Complaints of ugly designs, bad controls, and terrible game mechanics abound. This only leads me to wonder – what fucking game were these people playing?
Ain’t no Box Turtles here!
I love the designs. I like the turtles looking more realistic, it’s a nice change of pace. Besides, the people complaining seem to be ignorant to the fact that the turtles have changed many times over the years in their appearance. The enemy designs aren’t exactly anything special. It’s a beat-’em-up for fuck’s sake. The enemies you fight to begin with are fairly varied, but the variation seems to narrow later on in the game where you take on Mousers, The Foot, and even the Utroms. (Fuck it, they aren’t Kraangs, goddamn you!)
Overall, the character designs work. They work in the context, they work in the world, they. just. work. Each turtle is easily distinguishable from the others. Don is tall and lanky, Raph is short and bulky, Mike is thin and spastic, and Leo’s…well, he’s the middle ground.
The level designs are what you’d expect from the genre – mostly box rooms and corridors, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for some minimal platforming. Don’t worry, there aren’t any bottomless pits of bullshit here, you jump to and from places without worry of falling, which is nice considering some, minor, issues with the controls that I’ll get into later. The levels range from alleyways to sewers to subways to high-rise skyscrapers, and even an alien base. The mood for each area feels right. Alleyways are dark and dingy. Sewers are…well, sewers. I think the most interesting design lies in the alien base. It’s dark with streaks of neon greens, pinks, and purples. Very Tron of them.
Secrets are plentiful throughout the levels, which can lead to power ups and even some cool concept art unlockables. I really like the design of the concept art pickups, it’s based on the very first Ninja Turtles comic, black and white, in all its glory. There are quite a few that will take some work to get to, and that’s ok most of the time. I say “most of the time” because we’re about to dig into the controls.
I’ve heard a fair few complaints that the game doesn’t make it obvious where to go. Neither did games made more than 10 years ago. Exploration is key…
Get a hold of yourshellf!
Ever play the Batman Arkham games? Yea, me too. I’m wondering if any of these reviewers did, though, because Out of The Shadows reminds me of it. A lot. Yet, they complain and say this game has bad controls. The only thing I had any issue with was timing the Finishers for combos, which is almost a non-issue considering you can do Take Down style moves just like the Arkham games. The controls are fine, the turtles respond to movement, attack, and counter commands without issue. Well, without issue for me, I think some of these reviewers have had a serious amount of brain damage done to them due to their inability to work a control. Out of The Shadows rips off the Arkham games almost shamelessly, and I mean that in a good way. Yes, rip off Arkham, it’s a fantastic series. It helps that they did it well, and in their own way.
Out of The Shadows has its own counter system, as I mentioned before, and it’s wondrous. It doesn’t function exactly like the one in Arkham, which is good, because that was basically an “I win” button. In this game, you have a larger window for the counter, which can lead to some pretty awesome turn arounds…and some short-comings. On occasion you can screw yourself over if you’re trying to counter too often and wind up standing there looking like a dumbass. Another thing changed from the Arkham style counter system is that in this game, you have a block meter so that it can’t just be abused to victory. That’s where the comparisons will end.
Overall, the controls are perfectly functional, and if you spend more than 5 minutes with them, you’ll get the hang of them. It also helps that all four turtles have their own combos to learn, which adds a nice layer of extra fun when you’re achievement hunting as you can go through their entire move lists in training. The only real downside to the training is that it’s about as clear as mud what you’re supposed to do for some of the stuff, namely the more advanced counters.
What the shell was that?
The soundtrack for this game. Where the fuck do I begin? It’s…not good. At all. It’s fucking awesome. I’m not quite sure how it works, but mixing the turtles with Techno, and Dubstep works beautifully. The music is catchy, pumping, and perfect for what’s going on. They even play Turtle Power over the end credits.
Other sound stuffs include turtles idle banter, which is a lot of fun. You’ll get to hear Mikey fantasize over the dozens of types of pizzas or Donnie imagining what life would be like if they hadn’t been found by Splinter. The turtles also talk some trash during the fights as they’re known to do. This can repeat quite a bit as the lines are for battle dialogue, but it’s alright, half the time you won’t notice them because you’ll be too busy beating things senseless.
Speaking of turtles trash talking, they have their own taunts as well. At this point I’ve only played Raph (extensively) and Mikey (about an hour), but their taunts fit their characters very well. Raph will flex and show bravado or hit his sai together, sending out sparks, while menacing the enemies. Mikey, being the goofball of the group, will bust a move and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Aside from being neat additions to the characters, you can actually gain bonuses from them. Oh, what? I forgot to mention that aspect of it? Well, here we go!
This game comes with some nice little RPG elements to customize your turtles. While it isn’t a deep system, it definitely makes your team for versatile, making it worthwhile to do multiple playthroughs and the challenge and arcade modes so you can level up your four green, butt-kicking machines.
Each turtle has their own unique aspects, like Raph being made into a tank that gives defensive bonuses to his brothers, or Mikey who grants attack speed bonuses. One of Leo’s passive abilities grants you extra exp based on your score in the challenge mode, which functions almost exactly like Arkham. I know, I said the comparison was over, but, ok, it’s not. The challenge mode is almost pound for pound a clone of the Arkham’s. Four rounds, score high, do flawless combos, don’t take hits, do varied combos, but you know what? Like I said before – good! Rip off a good game and do it well! And they damn sure did.
The survival mode is just that, survival. Unlike the challenge mode where you go at it alone with your chosen turtle, survival gets all four off their butts and you go through waves of enemies in various areas trying to get a high score, but you better be sure you’re at the top of your game because you don’t get health items unless you complete your challenge list and you have a lot of baddies to wade through. When someone goes down, they’re down for the round and won’t get back up until the next one, so you have to make sure to watch each other’s backs. Leo’s ability to revive his brothers without using a pizza in invaluable in this mode, so make sure you get it!
This is the part where we take a look at the stuff I didn’t like.
The first thing that comes to mind is the tutorial level where you play as April. It really isn’t that bad, honestly. Only lasts about two minutes, and you never have to play it again.
The second is that some of the cutscenes end very abruptly. You don’t miss anything, but it feels like they should’ve been left on screen for about two more seconds.
Oh, and use a controller. The mouse and keyboard on-screen context is out of whack and useless. I suggest Motioninjoy set to XBox control.
Uh…let’s see. Oh, the training bit. Sometimes it isn’t clear what it wants when it comes to counters.
Hmm…yea. That about sums it up.
It’s a shelluva time!
In short, this game is a steal for $15USD, the controls do take some getting used to if you going in wantonly expecting Batman, because it does seem like it at first glance, but is definitely different from whatever other reviewers were playing. So my final verdict is – Right now, unless you’re a die-hard Ninja Turtle fan, it’s probably best to just to wait for a sale. I did give the game a glowing review but it’s not without faults. The camera can be more dangerous than any enemy in some places. I understand that the Arcade mode is strictly local co-op at the moment, which sucks because I know plenty of people I’d love to play it with in that form, but I hear that might change in a future patch. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, some of the counters and counter-based specials are weird as they don’t make it clear when and how they work during training. You can, however, review them on your Stats page, though that doesn’t help much. Some of the timing for things like Raph’s Submission combo would have benefited greatly from a short video that highlighted the timing as opposed to trying to look for the overly minimal shine of the weapon during heavy combat.
Well, there you have it. My thoughts on the new TMNT game. I love it, I think anyone who’s a fan of the turtles needs to at least give it a try and see what they think.
I think that’s all from me for now. You folks take care, have fun, and I’ll see you next time!