TMNT: Out of the Shadows: PS3 Review (and Thoughts About the TMNT Gaming Future)

     After something like a 9 month series of delays, when Red Fly Stuios' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows arrived on the PS3 I was moderately excited.  Of course I had reservations, because no game can be delayed that much and not suffer a little bit.  I'd heard about the awful glitches and bugs that plagued the game on other systems, and the bad news is- there are still a bunch on the PS3 version.

     I personally ran into framerate stutters so bad is froze the game on numerous occasions, multiplayer co-op was damn near impossible, hard to find (or no) way point markers/indicators, and 3 times I fell into a perpetual fall in a black screen through the game's floor geometry.  Characters frequently lodged in walls or failed to even load.  Some cutscenes would start to load and then freeze.   Of course there's also the standard invisible enemies and god awful camera to fight with that some other games struggle with as well- it just feels much worse on top of the other issues here.

     The gameplay isn't quite a straightforward button masher- things need to be timed properly.  Attacks and prompts are very specific to pull off, and each turtle has their own style to master.  You can see the largely failed attempts to make it as clean and functioning as the Batman: Arkham City combat that clearly influenced this.  I have to say it wasn't as bad as I was expecting.  There is something that just doesn't flow right with it.
     Honestly- the poor controls resulted in more aggravation than many of the other nuisances.  It got to be so irksome when controls failed to even register and the chosen turtle would stand in place and take massive damage.  Compound that with the camera- and you've got the toughest boss fight in the game- the game itself.  It leaves the game a mechanical mess.

     On the good side, this game has a decent story.  It also has plenty of comic book style cutscenes that are pretty good, but appeared to be a time saver over having fully animated cutscenes.  Nothing that would blow anyone's mind, but what could you really expect?
    The challenge mode is fun.  There's a training dojo to practice your various ninjitsu skills in, which is very helpful for some of the larger 99+ hit combos later on in the game as well as some of the timed-moves like Raph's Tap Outs.  Then there's a call-back to the old school TMNT arcade games, with an in-game arcade version of Out of the Shadows you can play.  That I think is the highlight of the game and really shows the moments where this could shine.

     For all the issues and problems I ran into, this game is definitely a step in the right direction for the TMNT.  If the game was cheaper it would've probably softened the impact of how bad this is.  What Out of the Shadows does do well is provide the promise of what could be done with the future of the franchise.  It had enormous potential.  I think a bigger and better studio may have been able to truly pull off an open-world 4 player co-op beat-em-up much better than this- a game to match the ambition this one so desperately strove for.  We just haven't found the right company to do it justice yet.  Maybe Activision can find a group to do it with the Nickelodeon series on a larger scale.

     As a lifelong fan since I was about 5 years old, that is what I would want.  A huge action RPG brawler, maybe even a hack-n-slash, in a fully open world of Manhattan, complete with sewer system.  The world should be as large as any of the GTA games by Rockstar, and it should be filled with plenty of baddies and mini-missions.  Take note Activision- Traveller's Tales' Lego Marvel Superheroes did it right with the large cityscape full of fun mayhem to be had with a couple hundred characters to swap around.  Copy that and improve on it.

     When I had completed the game, it was only with great love for the TMNT franchise and a lot of patience that I made it through.  As a die-hard, I can only take away from this experience the hopes that any future TMNT games might learn from this.  I'll have only a few good memories from this game, and my 30 years of built up nostalgia can't make this seem any better or more forgiving, and with that being said- this game should probably be stuffed back into the shadows it came out of.

     For more of my Turtles posts [ TMNT ]

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