by William Thompson
previewed on X360
The return of the fighting reptiles
OK... I admit it. When I was younger, I used to race home from school with just enough time to visit the fridge, get something to eat and sit down to watch the afternoon cartoons. One of my favourites was the pizza-loving heroes in a half-shell known as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They even made a couple of movies during their peak popularity. Well, guess what? Those fighting reptiles are back again in a new CGI movie. And of course, with any good (or even bad) movie comes the obligatory video game.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or TMNT) is an action and fighting game in a similar vein to the Prince of Persia games or even the Spiderman series. In fact, after playing for some time, TMNT reminds me of each in some ways. The game itself follows the storyline of the aforementioned CGI movie. Intertwined in the game are helpful hints from the TMNT master Splinter who guides our heroes through the game.
There are plenty of acrobatics displayed by the turtles in the game. Most of the action takes place on or near the rooftops of the city, but other areas include sewers and inside buildings. This requires the turtles to run, jump, swing and climb walls as they head towards their goals. At certain points in the game, a group of enemies will appear and a fight scene ensues. Each of the four Ninja Turtles has their own weapon and special moves, and the gamer has the ability to switch between the the Turtles, allowing them to use each Turtles' special moves when best needed.
But, the Turtles can also work in a co-operative fashion at points in the game. Some of the rooftop jumps are just too big for a single Turtle to make, so a team jump can be used. One of the Turtle's brothers performs a trapeze act and catches and throws the controlled Turtle towards his destination across the gaping chasm, similar to how Spiderman uses his web-slinging ability. It's a bit strange in a way, because the brother Turtle comes from the sky to perform the catch and throw. How he gets there, I do not know.
The teenagers can also work co-operatively in fight scenes. By adding a second Turtle to be fight, special tandem moves can be accomplished, which adds to the effect of the controlled Turtle's special move. Fighting is very easy. It consists of a small number of moves, including weapon attack, kick and dodge. Even fighting against multiple enemies seems quite simple. There are boss fights too, though, which, as you'd expect, are a level more difficult than standard enemies.
Ninjas must become invisible
Graphically, TMNT is a little on the bland side. The scenery is dreary with plenty of grey, black and brown colours. As most of the action takes place on or around rooftops, the scenery becomes monotonous after a short while. The same can be said for the sewers.
The characters themselves are well drawn in a comic book sort of way, but even then, they're not overly detailed. This is sort of OK though, as it is based on a cartoon, after all. Enemies are on a par with the main characters. They are well-drawn in a comic way, but to be honest there are way too many that look identical. I know that they are supposed to look that way, but I can't help but feel a little cheated. The only noticeable difference I could really tell was their choice of weapon.
From what we've seen so far, TMNT is a little disappointing. The graphics could almost have been on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game when they were first popular in the late 80's to early 90's. As I said previously, they're not all that bad, but you'd expect more from a modern game. The fight scenes are too easy, but we've only seen early levels of the game, so this could change. Controls are simple though, enabling the gamer to get right into the game without too much fuss. The game is probably aimed at the younger market (pre-teen and early teen) and more for the consoles rather than the PC (the Wii controls will be interesting). With the hype of the movie building and the usual marketing of everything that goes with it, TMNT could do well. Only time will tell.