Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Review


I like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I like combo-based action games. I hate Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

This downloadable release highlights the significance of execution, because it’s based on the popular TMNT franchise and uses the combo/counter formula found in great games like Batman: Arkham City. It sounds like a recipe for success, but TMNT: Out of the Shadows fails in execution on almost every level. Not once in the entire game did I come across a clever mechanic or fun encounter. To top it off, there are technical glitches aplenty. What I’m trying to say is we have a viable contender for worst game of the year.

The one bright spot in this otherwise disastrous release exists outside of the game’s actual mechanics – the brand. I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid and simply seeing them brings back wonderful memories. That doesn’t mean the four anthropomorphic turtles are utilized effectively in this game, especially with the in-mission dialogue that takes place throughout the course of the game (I honestly don’t remember the turtles being this annoying). They also look incredibly odd in the comic book cutscenes, as if someone based the illustrations on a vague description of the characters. But as I already indicated, the simple appearance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles scratches a nostalgic itch.


Then we get to the part where I have to actually play TMNT: Out of the Shadows, and the entire experience crumbles. The mechanical foundation of a combo-based system akin to the wildly popular Batman Arkham games sounds great on paper, and I don’t even care about the whole shameless ripoff motif. Sadly TMNT: Out of the Shadows fails to establish a reliable control scheme in which the player truly feels like a turtle ninja badass. Combos are often broken because the enemy is just a few inches too far away, and there were many times when it felt like counters didn’t register at all. The camera also adds to the frustration with its propensity to zoom in at the most inopportune times.

Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo all do their part in combat, but the player can switch between the four protagonists at any time. Unfortunately, the game gives no compelling reason to mix up combat between the different characters, because they all feel the same; it’s simply a case of different weapons. I ended up sticking with Leonardo most of the time, especially since I had allocated most of my upgrades to him. Not that it made a huge difference, because button mashing gets the job done most of the time. I have no problem with leaving combat variety to the player, but TMNT: Out of the Shadows doesn’t make a convincing argument as to why I should execute various special attacks and change characters mid-battle. The result is the same: boring and tedious encounters.


Even from a presentational standpoint, TMNT: Out of the Shadows displays a lack of polish. The transitions from cutscene to loading screen are jarringly quick, upgrade screens are convoluted, and moving from one menu to the next takes a long time. The game itself has the kind of blurry and muddy textures one would expect from a launch title (at best), and the music stands out as incredibly repetitive. In the entire first level I heard the word “bounce” about a million times. Perhaps the name of the song was Bounce? But the game’s biggest offense comes in the form of technical glitches. I don’t mean simple pop-in, clipping, and frame-rate issues – I’m talking about restarting checkpoints and reloading the game after hard freezes. Having to replay sections felt like someone was playing a cruel trick on me.

In many ways it’s a tragedy that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows carries the TMNT name, because that means unsuspecting fans may purchase the game on a whim. I’ll make it plain and simple: don’t do that. If the poor mechanics aren’t enough to scare gamers away, then the crippling technical issues will certainly get the job done.


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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