EDITOR’S NOTE: This review is for the Xbox 360 version of the game only. I am reviewing the PC version separately due to the incredible gap in overall performance. Additionally, I am not including any screenshots in this review as the ones provided are clearly from the PC version.
There have been some wonderful TMNT games over the years, but unfortunately Out of the Shadows on Xbox 360 is not one of them. Sadly, this console version of Out of the Shadows ruins any potential enjoyment with a host of technical performance issues.
The most notable and grievous violation committed by TMNT: Out of the Shadows is the lack of graphical optimization. Wait, optimization is a strong word; maybe stability is better, but my God, the Xbox 360 version is a graphical catastrophe, pure disappointment.
The characters are barely rendered — I’m not sure the poly-count could be any lower. In certain cutscenes the turtles look pretty good, but as soon as control is handed back to the player, the opposite of the famous “Unreal Texture Pop-In” occurs. Seriously, the game lowers the character resolution in front of your eyes. As if this isn’t bad enough, hit detection is nonexistent. Characters clip in and out of anything they come in contact with. I fell out of the map three times in my short time with this game.
The backgrounds are much the same with many jaggies all over the place. No anti-aliasing is running in the 360 version of TMNT, with very few lighting effects. So many wrong turns were made in the development of this game that it’s barely conceivable that it got approved by Microsoft for release.
With all the graphical sacrifices made for this version of the game, one would think the frame rate would be smooth, right? Embarrassingly enough, the frame rate in the Xbox 360 version of the game is borderline unplayable, around 15fps on average.
The myriad problems with the visuals are inexcusable, especially when compared to the PC version, which I am reviewing separately. TMNT: Out of the Shadows is truly the most exemplary case of technical separation between current gen consoles and PC that I have encountered to date.
The audio in this version of TMNT is mastered, strangely enough in stereo only, and when playing on a 5.1 system, the voice-overs and effects are completely drowned out by blaring BGM. All of the sound is middling at best, Mikey and Raph’s VOs are laughable, and the music is decent. The main problem with the music is there is very little of it. I don’t mean played sparsely, either: there are only about five tracks for the entire game. Karai, April and Splinter’s voice acting is worthy of note, and the rest of the cast is, well, passable.
The effects are easily the standout feature of the audio. Enemies hit the ground with a satisfying thud during take-downs, and weapon clangs and schwings are pretty cool. Sadly, due to the unimaginably poor frame rate, the game’s audio is often out of sync with the action on-screen.
Tragically, due to the substandard frame rate, any timing, which is needed to be successful in TMNT’s combat, is out the window. High combos and counters are nearly impossible to pull off with the detrimental graphical issues. At one point, I actually went to the practice mode to make sure it wasn’t just me. I found that as long as only three characters were rendered, the game performed as advertised, which is a real problem since there can be 20 or more on screen during the campaign.
Additionally, developer Red Fly Studio decided to add the ubiquitous action-game level-up system to TMNT:OOTS. It adds absolutely no value to the game whatsoever, much like the other games I have reviewed this year. Please, all developers, I plead with you to stop designing your action-combat game around an endgame character, then stripping it all away to tack this feature on. It always makes the player feel that some of the systems are broken, and it’s rarely meaningful in any way other than being a back-of-the-box bullet point.
In the few moments the Xbox 360 version of the game ran at a decent clip, the action combat was decently fun, but these moments make up less than 5 percent of the total game time ( around 7 hours). TMNT:OOTS does feature both local and online co-op mode. There is an additional challenge mode that tries to be a “throwback” of sorts by forcing a 2D-ish camera perspective. This mode is horrible, just downright ill-conceived in every imaginable way.
In short, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows on XBOX 360 is terrible, and I can’t recommend anyone to play it, ever. The graphical issues prevent the game from even being remotely playable, but if you are just dying to to torture yourself, be my guest. This review is almost totally based on technical performance — subjectivity barely enters the equation. Do yourself a favor, avoid the XBOX 360 version of the TMNT:OOTS like the plague.
- Developer: Red Fly Studio
- Publisher: Activision
- Platform: Xbox 360
- Release: 8-28-2013
- TimeStamp: 9-13-2013