The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
As a big fan of the combat in the Arkham series, and as a 29 year-old that grew up worshipping the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I was hoping that I could support their new XBLA adventure. I didn’t expect greatness by any means, but it would surely bring some nostalgic fun to the table, right? Within 10 minutes of starting the game, I knew that I couldn’t have been more wrong. TMNT: Out of the Shadows is an irredeemably broken game, and I found myself wondering how such a mess of a title could make its way to the Xbox Marketplace.
Right out of the gate, the first chapter of the four-chapter game yielded numerous game-breaking glitches. Most scenarios require the turtles to defeat every enemy in order to trigger the next cutscene or area. My co-op partner and I killed everyone in a courtyard area, and then spent over 10 minutes circling the perimeter trying to find some unseen enemy. After restarting the checkpoint, we discovered that two of the enemies had previously failed to spawn and made progressing impossible.
It didn’t take long for additional severe glitches to rear their heads. Invisible walls pop up out of nowhere and stop you from progressing down critical hallways. Load screens hang forever until you restart the game. Clipping through the environment causes you to fall through a void forever. These are just a few of the examples that frequently wrecked the experience.
Even the smaller issues are big enough to negatively affect the title as a whole. Prompts for quicktime events appear during non-interactive cutscenes for some reason. Several turtles start talking at the same time, having completely different conversations. The audio mix is so bad that I had to turn on subtitles just to hear what was being said. Your characters inexplicably warp around the environment with no rhyme or reason at the end of some combos. Text is so small on the awkward split-screen mode that it’s unreadable. At certain points, your items are unavailable to you for unexplained reasons. In the middle of fights, your health bar disappears from the screen, leaving you with no idea how close to death you are. Cosmetic aspects of the environment (graffiti, textures) sometimes wait until you’re mere feet away to appear. On at least five or six occasions, my character got caught in an endless backflip animation. Co-op on Xbox Live is a laggy, often unplayable affair, and the only way you can tell that you’re playing with other humans is if you go to “Recent Players” on the Xbox Guide (there are no Gamertag indicators whatsoever, so you might as well be playing with laggy AI for all you know).
Most of these issues appeared in co-op play, but single-player is still littered with bugs and uninspired gameplay. Even on the rare occasions that the game is working as intended, it’s a terribly generic and dated beat ‘em up. The team at Red Fly attempted to add some depth via a leveling system, but none of it matters when the core gameplay is so atrocious.
TMNT: Out of the Shadows is terrible, and offers nothing as a video game or even as a piece of nostalgia. The ugly turtle models didn’t bring back any memories of the fun cartoon of my youth, and the gameplay is among the most unenjoyable experiences I’ve had during my time as a gamer. There is no circumstance under which anyone should play this train wreck of a game.