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Im getting to that age where my friends are getting married and starting to have children. One by-product I have noticed from this, apart from the increase in gift I have to buy, is that cartoons from my childhood are coming back. This is because people who were watching cartoons in the 80s now have disposable incomes and children. Manufacturers of toys have realised that they can churn out the same stuff again to a ready made market. The biggest success story of the year was Transformers, but this was beaten to the multiplexes by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in new CGI form. As par for the course a game came out for said film a game that has been universally panned, but that I believe is actually ok!
The current generation of consoles seems to have forgone the traditional platformer and its 3D platformer cousin. Apart from Kameo and Tomb Raider its left up to the movie tie-ins to fill the void and this is exactly what TMNT does. The game is best described as a child friendly Prince of Persia with some liberal sprinkling of Crash Bandicoot. You take it in turns to control one of the four Turtles in a linear platforming game that requires you to jump and dodge. However, things are a little more sophisticated than just the basics as each Turtle has a special power that only they can use. Therefore, certain puzzles pop up that requires the player to switch to the correct brother.
The platformer sections are very quick and imo pretty good. You can bounce of walls, double jump and also hang off ledges. Added to this are a series of fights that you come across every few minutes where you must take out a number of foot soldiers in hand to hand combat. The fighting can be pretty repetitive and I found that the special moves that the brothers use make the rest of their move set pretty redundant as you will always return to the powerplays.
A significant part of this game is about the bond that families have so the makers have added this to the gameplay. You start a level with only one brother and must traverse the platforms in a stylish way to impress your siblings. Once you have done this enough, a brother joins you and acts as a second life. You can also do brother moves that get you across large gaps or defeat huge swarms of enemies.
The gameplay is cribbed from many better game and no one area can be said to be better than average. I was surprisingly impressed by the platform elements as they are very fluid and quick. The fighting is significantly weaker, but for a tie in game aimed at children I think there is a decent amount of gameplay here. (3 out of 5)
Being based on a TV series or movie does not guarantee a good game story, but this is not the case here. Having not watched the cartoon film I cant say if they are the same, but the plot between levels here is actually ok. It tells of Raphael and Donatellos struggle to lead together and how all four brothers must work as a team to take out the mysterious monsters that have started to appear in the city. Each level acts as a memory for one of brothers or Splinter as they reflect on a recent adventure. This means that during the level itself you are interrupted by the other Turtles adding comments it works really well. (4 out of 5)
TMNT, like King Kong before it, has a reputation for its easiness and willingness to give out achievement points and this is true. I was able to complete the entire game from one end to the other in as little as 7 hours and gained 1000 points for doing so. Essentially this means that there is no reason for me to go back and play the game again which is a real shame. The only situation that I can see happening to make it last longer is if it becomes one of those games a child will play over and over again. There is an added shop in the game that allows you to unlock silly extras like having the enemies dress up of the Turtles constantly farting great for kids but really this game is what renting was invented for. (2 out of 5)
Ubisoft have tried to keep the look and feel of the recent film with this game so the style is a combination of CGI and cell shading (the technique where programmers run a 3D engine through a graphics filter giving it a cartoony look). Due to the limitations of the levels e.g. linear and mostly on roof tops, there is little to actually wow the gamer with. Saying that they are perfectly functional and do the job well. (3 out of 5)
Arguably TMNT falls down on level design as although there are 7/8 levels they are essentially the same corridor with a different look. The brief length of the game is a blessing in disguise as the gamer does not become too familiar with the same jumps and tricks. The game also suffers from end bosses that play differently from the rest of the game meaning that you do not need to use the skill set that you have developed over hours of play and must instead rely on learning the bosses patterns. I think it is in the level design that TMNT shows its cash-in roots. (2 out of 5)
With the backing of a major feature film tie-in games often sport the same talent as the film reprising their roles via voice acting. This must be the case here as the voices of the different characters are very well done with solid emotional inflection. It helps that the game is based on a cartoon as the voice actors already know how to get the best out of the medium. I also felt that the sound effects and music fitted the game. (4 out of 5)
TMNT is by no means a top game, however, top say that it is one of the worst out on the 360 is far too harsh. It aims to be a simple and fun platformer that can be picked up and played by almost anyone, and in that respect it succeeds. I felt that it was far too short, but the levels that did exist were fun and act as a great introduction for younger gamers into the genre of the platformer. Unless you have small children that will play this many times I suggest that this is a solid rental title and easy 1000 achievement points. (3 out of 5)
Maker: Ubisoft RRP £50
Amazon uk £17.96
In the new TMNT world the Ninja Turtles are no longer confined to sewer system and are now both above and below ground in the world. Strange events have been occurring in New York City fast-moving shadows, strange star alignments, and creatures attacking the city. Is the wealthy and mysterious industrialist Max Wintersinvolved? The city needs the Turtles now more that ever, but they are in their most trying time as heroes and as a family. While Leonardo was away on a special training mission his brothers Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael became lost and directionless. With the city and family at stake, it's up to Leonardo with Zen Master Splinter to restore unity and ninja discipline to the Turtles.