by Nick Reay
As a young child I wished my parents had spent more time over in Russia, namely Chernobyl. I would have done anything to mutate into a pizza loving, ass-kicking turtle with a penchant for kicking the robotic RAM out of Shredder’s minions. Instead I had to make do with the NES version, a game that taught through bruised body parts to leave the use of nunchucks to Bruce Lee, and tested my patience at not murdering my brother in his sleep for always dying.
Firstly this is a third person beat-em-up which is a big move from the 1989 platform and while Activision and Red-Fly have obviously put some effort into creating a fan experience there are many things wrong with it.
As with the original you can choose to be one of the fab four but adding to this choice is the ability to switch in-game. This creates some interesting combinations; hit a guy with Rafael then jump to Donatello and whack him with your bo, home run! Of course each of our ninjas has different fighting styles. Michelangelo is fast as hell, and about as annoying with some of his comments (he will constantly repeat a long list of toppings for pizza which is funny at first and as infuriating as a dripping tap at 100). Purple Don has some serious range with his bo while Raphael plays on his anger issues for strength leaving ol’ Leo as the most balanced of the group, making him the easiest to play with. Each character has similar skills you need to unlock (like a group attack, group defence, main attack increase) and each has specialist abilities too. All these can be unlocked by gaining experience though kills. Using stealth will bring you in more EXP and using chained combs more still. It is this combination that makes combat in this game addictive.
I think the best way to describe the action is by comparing it to Batman Arkham Asylum and Devil May Cry. It moves from the slowmo pounding A’s head in, jumping to B and then to C in one fluid movement like Batman to button mashing (in my case) combo treatment like DmC, which is a really great fusion. The interaction between the four brothers as they fight is also worth noting. From rolling over the back/shell of a brother, you can smash an enemy in the face quicker than running around him, to using your ‘group attack’ you all play an important role in each other’s success.
Out of the Shadows also allows for limited scenery interaction, like back-flipping off a wall to land behind you enemy or swinging horizontally around a pole to fly into the face of evil. With different achievements stemming from the huge range of moves, including a 99-hit-combo award (read ‘bleeding thumbs’) you won’t get bored with the combat; just make sure you spend time in the dojo. Lots of time…
Much like the cartoon series the turtles are based in a sewer, one that contains arcade games, a dojo and weapon/tool upgrade centre (love you Leo!) In-between missions you can use your acquired experience points to improve on your wide range of weapons, practice moves you have unlocked (you will need to) or play video games (Gameception!) You can also play an arcade version of the actual game, no cut scenes, just old school Double Dragon side-scroller.
Of course no game is without its problems. In this case, it’s full of them. On my first evening of playing I got to a level where you had to hand out some beatdown on a bunch of enemies in order to progress. However, the game did a Ghost on me and decided that even though all the enemies were cleared, one was still hanging about, I just couldn’t see him. So I had to restart the level, but only after pissing about for 15 minutes thinking I’d done something wrong. Issues with the camera are also there. Although nowhere near as bad as Resident Evil 6 it can be rather sticky, especially when you are going underground. This coupled with some collision detection problems, tearing and pop-ins take away from a lot of the potential charm of the game. Often you will find the action takes on a frenzied blur of green confusion and you are left staring at the wrong turtle while the one you are playing is receiving lessons in brutal origami somewhere off screen.
It’s not often I play arcade games on my Xbox, I usually go for the more heavy titles, but this had me grinning like a stoned Cheshire Cat. It tickled my turtle bone the same way it did back in the early 90’s and anyone who happens to love the amphibian quartet will thoroughly love this…right up until the pervasive problems ruin the entire experience. With a fun story, Splinter’s wise words and the banter between the ninjas, Red Fly Studios and Activision have succeeded in delivering a fun, but inconsistent and often broken game