Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – a game developed by Red Fly Studios and published by Activision – released in August last year on both Steam and the Xbox 360 to a largely atrocious reception. With the game taking around eight months to hit the PlayStation 3, then, one would expect (or at least hope) that the delay has culminated in some improvements to the experience. While we can confirm that that’s the case, though, how much of a difference do these tweaks make?
Well, it’s no longer littered with bugs and technical snafus like its counterparts. During our time with the title, we didn’t really encounter any of the game breaking issues that prompted critics to pan last year’s release, so credit must be given to the developer for at least ironing those problems out. Indeed, while it’s not exactly a glowing endorsement, a stable release is far better than an utterly broken one.
So, what’s it all about? Well, this is a brawler based upon pop culture’s favourite ninja reptiles. The property has enjoyed a number of video game outings over the years, and this represents the most recent entry in that long line. Sadly, it’s far from the best. The fairly unoriginal narrative sees the Turtles called upon to save the city from a slew of local gangs. Along the way, April O’Neil gets captured, and that’s really about it.
Over the course of the game’s three-to-five hour campaign, you’ll assume the role of one of the four turtles, and engage in combat with the various foes that you encounter. Each hero has a distinctive fighting style, which is defined by the different weapons that they can carry. You can upgrade each character through a unique skill tree, providing some replay value if you want to power them all up. This represents the best part of the game, but it’s nothing to necessarily shout about.
Predictably, the whole affair is built around drop-in/drop-out co-op, allowing you to team up with your buddies to beat up the bad guys. Given that the gameplay can feel quite tired at times, it’s best enjoyed with friends, and there’s even an Arcade Mode – which closely resembles the old coin-op cabinets of old – if you’re looking for a little additional content to enjoy in multiplayer. This is an appreciated add-on, although it’s unlikely that you’ll want to run through it too many times.
Still, the actual fighting works well enough, even if it isn’t ever overly engaging. It’s largely derivative of the combat found in the Batman: Arkham series, but it feels like something was lost in translation, as it’s nowhere near as fun. Most encounters find you duking it out in wide open spaces, and offing charging enemies until they’re all knocked out. There isn’t a terribly large amount of variety to this – aside from one dreaded stealth segment – and as a result, it can feel like a bit of a chore at times.
Visually, the game fails to impress, too – but the main character models do look decent. It’s a shame, then, that the environments that you’re forced to wander don’t really stack up. It looks ancient compared to newer PS3 games, and while there are some nice particle effects, the framerate does appear to take a battering as a consequence. The game consistently runs below 30 frames-per-second, which is unacceptable for a title that looks so bland.
Fortunately, the audio holds up a little better. Despite its licensed origins, the voice acting is surprisingly good, which is a bit of a surprise considering the low production values elsewhere. The sound effects are decent, too, ranging from the clang of weapons to the groans of gang members. It’s just a shame that the actual soundtrack is so dull, providing a solid backdrop to the action, but little else of interest.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows falls frustratingly short of its full potential. As a consequence, this is a completely mediocre brawler, which fails to do anything especially interesting with its parent property. This PS3 port may be more stable than its counterparts, but that doesn’t redeem its archaic gameplay and bland visuals.