TMNT Xbox 360
Apart from the faithful die hards, nobody has seen much of those martial-arts-practising oversized tortoises that were so big in the eighties, but as is the way of the world, if it was popular in the past it’s worth bringing back for another bite of the cherry. Like countless other pop culture icons from decades past, the Turtles are back with an all new adventure on the big screen, and what big budget movie is complete without the accompanying merchandise, including their very own video game?
The game of TMNT follows the story of the film loosely, filling in some back story that wasn’t shown on the big screen. This is done through a series of flashbacks interspersed by cut scenes of Splinter and the Turtles telling the story whilst reading it from a comic. The flashbacks themselves make up the actual gameplay and are made up of a mixture of platforming and fighting which is more than a little reminiscent of the Prince of Persia games. A lot of gameplay mechanics from the PoP games are used in TMNT, running up walls, swinging from poles, that sort of thing, and it’s of no surprise the game is made by the same people. Things have been dumbed down quite a lot though, wall running is a lot easier, and the pole swinging is done automatically, you just choose when to jump off. The game is definitely aimed at a younger audience, and it’s not just the action that has been dumbed down, the camera is now fixed, so no worrying about adjusting your view to see where you’re meant to go next. You’re also given an endless supply of lives too, so there’s no real danger to worry about, you just go back to the last checkpoint, and as long as you haven’t fallen to your death you don’t even need to worry about that, just bash the A button and your Turtle gets back up.
But there’s a bit more to things than just a simplified Prince of Persia, each Turtle gets his own special move to help your way through the platforming action. Michaelangelo’s nunchucks can be used as a personal helicopter, Donatello’s staff is perfect for pole vaulting, Raphael’s sai make great pitons for climbing when there’s no way to jump up, and Leonardo for some reason can slip through gaps. To start off with you’ll just be playing as one Turtle at a time, but as you progress through the game you’re given the opportunity to switch between them, this means level design gets a bit more varied as opportunities to use special moves are expanded on. It also means you can start using the Turtles’ co-operative moves, in the platforming sections all you get is a move where you can call in another Turtle to slingshot you across wider gaps, but the fighting sections is where you’ll really make full use of the co-op moves.
In combat, holding down the character switch button will charge up a devastating co-op move which varies depending on which Turtle you use. Although there is variation, they all have pretty much the same result, they give you some breathing space when you’re getting overrun by bad guys, but in the boss battles they really come into their own. These boss battles, where you face the living statues from the film, initially seem pretty tough, but once you work out which Turtle’s move to use, it all becomes just as easy as the rest of the game.
The easiness of the game really is its major downfall, presentation is good, or as good as a multiformat release gets, gameplay is fun, if a little too simple, for as long as it lasts. But that’s just it, it doesn’t last anywhere near long enough and can easily be finished in four or five hours. It’s a real shame, I can understand them making it easy as it is obviously aimed at a younger audience, but they must have realized that there is an older audience with a fondness for the franchise. They could have made everybody happy had they built a more substantial game and then just added an easier ‘kids’ mode to it. It’s just a waste really, they’ve obviously put a lot of work in to the presentation, graphically it looks pretty close to the comic book style CGI of the movie, although it would have been nice if they’d optimised it for the 360, and the sound work is great. Music and effects are lifted straight from the movie and the voice work is top notch, it’s unsure whether or not the cast of the movie play the same parts in the game, but it certainly sounds like they do, and if not they got some excellent sound-a-likes. And you can easily see that with some more creative level design and fully realised game mechanics we could have had a pretty decent game here, but it’s all gone to waste.
At the end of the day Ubisoft have taken a great franchise and squandered it, I’m sure the kiddies will love it, but with little replay value and no multiplayer it’s not even going to last them too long. Hopefully next time the guys at Ubisoft are given such a hot property to work with they come up with something better than this damp squib.
One for the kiddies, old school Turtles fans need not apply.