The heroes in a half shell are back! Though to be truthful, they never really went away.
Like other licenses Turtles are seemingly here to stay.
True though they have not been on our TV screens for a while, the comics, movies, and the toys are still widely on sale. This seems at odds with the title of the game which suggests that they have been hidden away and forgotten!
But no, anybody who knows the series will tell you that the Turtles have to keep their existence a secret, whilst doing all they can to protect the helpless and the innocent.
And there is at least one human who does know about them and have encountered them, and can be thankful that they are around as they have come to her rescue on at least one occasion, and they are going to have to do it one more time.
Their human friend, a journalist called April, has been taken prisoner by the bad guys, so in fact we are looking at events in flashback, which is a novel way of approaching the story side of things.
So our heroes are in a race against time as they track down April, and it has to be said, even the player does not know exactly who has captured her or indeed where she is being held. We, like the Turtles have to track her down! Can we do it? Well of course, but it won’t be that easy amigo!
Of course, opponents will try and stop us, and of course there is the Ninja Turtle action we are used to, with fights aplenty to keep things lively, but we also have puzzle elements to take into account. Some areas are only opened up once the electronic locks have been picked or hacked by one of the Turtles. There are other riddles to crack as well, and of course power ups to find as well as ‘collectable’ items (mostly concept art) and more than enough to keep you busy as you play through the game.
But there’s a RPG element to this as well. Puzzles solved, and battles won will award our gang with XP points that can be spent to improve attacks, defense and special moves and take downs.
You can also invest points into researching new weapons and upgrading existing ones.
Armour can also be improved as well as each of the Turtles' attributes. These are shown in Diablo 3 style skill trees, and replay value is here as you can play through again but try a different mix of skills.
The main emphasis of this game is team work. It can be played co-op on the sofa with two players and online modes are also available, it can also be played online in a competitive mode too.
If you are used to squad based shoot them ups, then there is a very similar feel to this although it is primarily a beat em up. A comrade goes down? Then fight your way to him and revive him (Right trigger and left button), a foe is proving to be tougher than your thought? Then call in a partner once he’s stunned and you can double team him and pulverize the sucker.
And in solo game mode if you find the Turtle you are using is not up to the task, then with a quick press of the D-Pad you can become one of the other three. Swap and change as much as you like!
It’s all pretty fast paced, but there are moments when you can just pause and catch your breath and can even ‘chill out’ in the Turtles' sewer based den. It’s here where you can practice fight moves, spend XP points and build new weapons which are added to the Turtles inventory and can be accessed in-game with a press of the left trigger to bring up the item wheel. D-Pad to select the item and left button will give it to the Turtle you are using. But be aware, each turtle uses his own unique items so these new weapons have a limited life span (and have to be rebuilt back at the base) and can only be used by the appropriate Turtle so you'll bare that in mind.
You can access an arcade machine in the base that enables you to play a good old fashioned Streets of Rage sideways scrolling beat them up game and bonuses earned there can be transferred to the main game, so it’s worth playing this from time to time and it’s also a nice diversion from the main game/story.
So then how does it all shape up?
It shapes up not too badly at all in fact. The action comes thick and fast and with team work, most enemies can be overcome moderately easily, but crank up the difficulty and they will be tougher, faster and somewhat smarter tactically.
They will be armed with baseball bats, wrenches, etc. in opposition to your martial art weapons, and as I fought these battles I was reminded of Sleeping Dogs in a way, although you cannot pick up dropped wrenches and use them against your foes.
The double team maneuvers were also reminiscent of Sleeping Dogs as well, stun an opponent and call for back up and lay in a good old fashioned smackdown!
Graphically it’s not a bad looking game. Not as bright and as colorful as a comic book, it has a slightly darker look to it if that makes sense (the original comics are considered to be more grown up then we’d expect)
Character animation is smooth and there is no sign of lag when things get hectic on screen, and there is no obvious pop up or drop out. Textures are reasonable but not to the standards set by say, Tomb Raider, but they do look decent enough for this title. It’s not a Triple A game but that does not mean it’s bad, far from it.
The sound effects are more than decent, thumps, smacks and whacks are enough to make you wince and takedowns sound as impact-full as they look. Voice acting is fine though lip synching is not spot on and you find yourself wishing one of the Turtles would cease his endless prattling!
It’s aimed at a younger and perhaps more knowledgeable audience but honestly it’s no obstacle to enjoying this title and yes I have enjoyed playing this.
It’s not perfect but there are few flaws to mar the experience. Loading times can be a bit sluggish on line, and the sound track music is repetitive and I find myself muting it as quickly as possible. It’s some kind of hip hop track that seems to consist of the word “bounce” repeated ad nauseam, and then switches randomly to another tune quoting such famous words as Turtle Power, the obligatory Cowabunga. Very limited on the music side but the other elements make up for it.
Controls are responsive, and intuitive and the game can be challenging but not too tough that the younger player will get fed up and bad tempered.
I like this game, I don’t love it, but I DO like it and again, like some recent titles I have reviewed has surprised me. Good fun solo, but even better in co-op or multiplayer competition.