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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been surprisingly resilient, as generation after generation of kids have watched the green foursome--including today’s youngsters with Nickelodeon’s popular TMNT. One side effect of having a kiddy core audience means that many of the games starring the turtles are aimed squarely at 12-year-olds, but the just-announced TMNT: Out of the Shadows intends to build martial arts action for older fans--despite being tied to the current interpretation of the characters.
Designed around the gritty feel of the Unreal 3 game engine, Out of the Shadows may be based on the cartoon, but Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo look much more realistic in-game. The turtles and their world are steeped in darkness akin to a heightened, comic book reality. The same goes for the New York setting that takes more inspiration from the Eastman and Laird grimmer original series than the colorful world most fans know.
We didn’t get to see much of the story for the game at this point, but the combat seemed defined already. Each turtle is designed to with a different combat style. Ralph’s close and brutal Muay Thai style contrasts against Donatello’s spread-out bo staff attacks, while Michelangelo embraces his party dude status by mixing in flashy capoeira kicks with his nunchuck moves. Leonardo is fittingly the balanced, vanilla member of the team, leading them in four-player ninja assaults.
As different as they all are, this is one of the few TMNT games to keep the team together. Out of the Shadows is made for four person drop-in/drop-out co-op, so even when played solo, you’re accompanied by three AI turtles. There are multiple co-op attacks that take advantage of their team spirit, including a couple tandem attacks borrowed from the 1990 live-action film.
Moments like those show the game’s appreciation for the different eras of the Ninja Turtles. Throughout the demo we saw little moments giving tribute to the ‘90s films, the original comics, and the old cartoons, all while still respecting the current incarnation of TMNT. It reminded us of the reverence for history that the recent Transformers Cybertron games showed. The fan service is aimed squarely at older fans, but it isn't there to exclude players under 25.
Out of the Shadows takes a good deal of inspiration from the past, but it also cribs a little from the Arkham games, though we aren’t complaining. In four-player, the inspiration is less obvious, but in the solo challenge rooms where your chosen turtle battles waves of ninjas and thugs, the dynamic combat reminded us of Arkham City in the best ways. The attacks flowed from one enemy to the other, and if you really memorized a character’s moves, you could rack up big points without ever taking a hit.
Our demo was brief, but it was a promising introduction to the downloadable. Planned for this summer on 360, PS3, and PC, this could be just the game to appeal to all stripes of TMNT fans, hopefully becoming the type of licensed game we want to see more of in a post-Arkham gaming landscape.
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