Available for: Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PC
Those that have closely followed the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” video game series know all about it’s rise and fall under original publisher Konami, so it’s nice to see that a different developer has taken over the reigns for the Turtles’ latest adventure. The result is just as much of an improvement as its big screen counterpart, and while calling Ubisoft’s “TMNT” the best entry in years is kind of like saying herpes is the least harmful STD – true, but not exactly encouraging – its still a welcome upgrade to a series in desperate need of a little reinvention. Plus, it’ll deliver a much-needed break from playing Xbox Live’s recently released port of the 1989 arcade game.
Based on the new feature film, “TMNT” follows the same basic premise of the story, but is told through a series of flashbacks revealing what each of the four Turtles were up to before reuniting to defeat the city’s latest threat. Proudly employing the same game engine used in the “Prince of Persia” trilogy, each level is divided into two parts: platforming and fighting. A majority of the game is spent scurrying up walls and bouncing off rooftops using the Turtles’ incredible speed and athletic ability, while the second half pits you against a series of street thugs and nasty monsters.
Unfortunately, for as much as the game should be applauded for its creative use of the fast-paced platforming style (four words: Turtles on Red Bull), the combat system is absolutely dreadful. The opponent AI is dumb as rocks, and the Turtles arsenal of moves is so limited that you’re forced into the thumb-aching routine of button mashing. There’s nothing better than sprinting through the urban landscape, though, especially when you have control over all four Turtles, and that’s what makes “TMNT” such an enjoyable experience. With the ability to switch between them on a fly, not to mention using one another to fling your brother in arms across particularly tough jumps, it’s a surprise Ubisoft didn’t implement a co-op or online multiplayer mode.
Still, despite some minor gameplay issues, “TMNT” is a pretty fluid experience. Loyal devotees of Microsoft’s achievement system will love how ridiculously easy it is to accumulate the game’s 1000 points, and it will only take around five hours to do so. That’s how long the story mode should take the average gamer to complete, anyways, and with every achievement handed out like candy (most simply require you to beat a level or perform a specific Turtles’ special move), you’ll be on your way to improving your Gamerscore in no time. The addition of unlockables such as time trial obstacles hardly increases the replay value, but that’s okay, because “TMNT” shouldn’t be looked at as anything more than a rental. It’s a good rental, however, and is certainly worth checking out on a rainy day. We’ve come a long way since the days of classic arcade titles like the original and “Turtles in Time,” but Ubisoft’s reboot certainly gives us hope for a brighter future where Turtles games don’t suck quite so bad.