Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Review

TMNT OotSTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Available on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: Number of Players: 1 to 4
Genre: Action
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Red Fly Studios
Release Date: August 28th, 2013

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates TMNT: Out of the Shadows T for teen because of violence. There’s no blood or profanity whatsoever. Some children might be turned off by the darker color palette used, but it’s doubtful. At its heart this is a modern re-imagining of the classic Turtles arcade game, so it’s not the most overly realistic violence out there, but parents might not want their little ones playing it just the same.

Plays Like: There are two distinct games at work here, a pure arcade game, and the single or multiplayer campaign, with is a stealth action beat ’em up. The arcade game plays exactly as the original Turtles arcade did, i.e. you move from left to right beating up everything in your path. You can use all the moves and finishers from the core game as well, which is a nice touch. As for the steal action part, there are linear objectives you need to follow like going from point A to point B, and taking out enemies with stealth or all out action. The choice is yours.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been around since 1984(!). In that time they’ve been featured in comics, Saturday morning cartoons, major motion pictures, and a wealth of crappy videogames. In fact it always surprises me just how many sub-par videogames have been made featuring the Turtles. It’s almost as if the property itself is cursed by the gaming gods. Back in 1989 Konami released what I consider to be the very best Turtles game of all time, with TMNT: The Arcade Game. It was the ultimate beat ’em up, and if I ever have enough space that’s one game I’m going to try and hunt down. It’s sequel, Turtles in Time is another one I must have spent thousands on in the arcades, back in 1991. The point I’m trying to make here is that the Turtles began their videogame legacy as being on top of their game, but once Konami stopped developing the arcade games, they went from number one, to the bottom of the barrel. Today Red Fly Studios has tried to create a modern stealth brawler with heavy influences from the original arcade game, but do they succeed where so many others have failed, or can we finally say the Turtles are back on top.

TMNT OotS5The Great:

Hands-down the very best aspect of the whole game is the robust and incredibly deep combat system. Not only can you master complex combos, but there are finishers, fighting game-inspired special moves and so much more. I never expected this level of depth from an arcade release.

TMNT OotS4The Good:

+ Leveling system is straight forward and rewarding. If you preform more complex combos you’re given more experience, which can then be used to further enhance the states of any of the Turtles, or unlock new moves. It’s interesting that you can allocate points to one Turtle or all of them, it all depends on your play style.

+ Quick-change to any Turtle you want by tapping on one of the four directions on the d-pad. It’s super effective, and best of all when you’re not controlling the other Turtles they don’t just up and die on you.

+ Arcade mode is a blast, grab some friends and enjoy!

+ Voice work and music are top notch, and I especially love the nod to the original movie.

TMNT OotS1The So-So:

+/- The visual presentation is a mixed bag. While the cutscenes are fine, they look a little disjointed compared to the more realistic approach gameplay takes. So one one hand this works to appeal to the different age groups of interested fans, it feels out of place when thrown into the mix together.

+/- Some areas in the environment are highlighted yellow to let you know you can grind down rails, interact with a switch, or leap over a certain wall, other times they aren’t. When you get used to looking for yellow ques in the background and suddenly don’t see them anymore you get confused as to where to go next. Thankfully the game’s linear enough that you shouldn’t have too many issues.

+/- Lot of different variety in terms of things players can do. From the arcade mode to the campaign, training and practice mode to tons of other goodies, there’s no shortage of content, however it’s all for not when the core game required so much extra TLC.

TMNT OotS3The Bad:

– As amazing as the combat system is, more advanced or complex moves are never required in order to finish the game. Even the toughest enemies don’t force you to get good at the game. Just press X a thousand times and you’ll be fine.

– Worst beginning ever. For whatever reason you begin the game as April and have to suffer through a three minute tutorial which basically tells you to press A no matter what situation pops up. The game runs so poorly during this scene that the framerate stays at about 15 fps. It leaves a horrible impression on the player right from the get-go.

– The camera system is also extremely lackluster. Not only can you not invert it, which seems impossible in a game released in 2013, but it has a very hard time following the action.

– Bug, bug, and more bugs. From weird glitches like flipping over a wall into…nothing at all, to the sound mix being so loud you can’t hear what the turtles are saying. It’s clear the game needed a little more time in the oven. Just pressing start to check on your stats can take up to five seconds, which seems outrageous because not much information is being loaded.

The Ugly:

Learning how to master one of the most complex combos in the entire game, and then realizing you will never actually need to use it in the entire game.

TMNT OotS2The Lowdown:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows should have been a very solid or maybe even great game, but it needed to be delayed for a few more months, and a couple of the core ideas needed to be fleshed out. The focus appears to have been on combat since day one, but then enemies should require players to master the system, much like the Arkham series does. Another aspect that perplexes me is why so much time and effort went into creating so much content instead of polishing what was there to begin with. I’d much rather have an incredible five hour story mode and a kick-ass arcade mode than everything else they’ve added. It seems like somewhere along the way priorities got mixed and the publisher simply wanted to cash in on the Summer of Arcade promotion. It’s a shame too because this should have been so much more.

Final Score: 4.5/10

6 thoughts on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Review”

  1. I’m saddened by this review because I was so looking forward to this game. I wanted a modern take on the Turtles with a mature visual presentation and back-to-basic approach in terms of arcade mode and 4-player co-op. All the previews have been nothing but positive. Combat looked really fluid and the game’s visual presentation was interesting to me. It’s too bad that there are lots of bugs as you’ve mentioned. I figured this game would at least get a 7 for effort, but the bugs seem very distracting from your point of view.

    Regardless, I really want to play the game just for the Arcade mode, but I’m thinking that Steam version may be a better version than the consoles, so I’m not sure what to go for.

    1. Expect this to get a metacritic score of about 5 at most Ahmed. The problem isn’t the combat system, as that ROCKS! The problem is that unlike the Batman games, you don’t actually have to use it and that destroys its entire purpose for being there in the first place. The arcade mode is clearly the highlight, but there are way too many issues with the ‘core’ game to overlook. Wait until you play the intro, it’s horrendous. How they could have started with that is beyond me. I loved the combat though, just such a shame it’s for nothing.

      1. I like flashy games, but at least give us a reason for flashiness…like higher difficulties or better AI. Also from the looks of the video review, the framerate is a lot slower than I thought it would be.

        1. Yeah it has a lot of technical issues, which are evident the moment the game starts. Seriously, I was ultra disappointed with this one as it SHOULD have been SO much more. A little more time cooking and it may have been a modern reinvention of a classic, but as it is now it’s just an alright afternoon that will quickly be forgotten.

    1. This could have been it had it just spent a little more time fleshing things out. It uses the exact same system as from Arkham, except there’s no point to mastering the more advanced techniques. That’s one of the biggest faults of the game. I know some hardcore fans will overlook that, but they can’t overlook the technical issues, bogged framerate, and bugs.

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