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Turtles Are Back
In the second appearance of the iconic turtles on the Wii, Ubisoft puts together a fairly admirable, yet fairly dull Smash Bros. style game (as opposed to the fairly dull TMNT platformers gamers have been subjected to for the last several years.)
That said, the game has several weak spots, overall it is an amusing game and a must buy for hardcore fans of the series.
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This is where the game is bittersweet. Though the controls are easy to pick up, they’re extremely simple. Obviously the game is geared to a younger audience, but even still the controls equate to basically just button-mashing. In keeping with the Smash Bros. style, there really is no strategy involved, though various ninja power ups and pizza healers do add some semblance of gameplay depth.
One thing I liked was the flexibility of control. You could use the Wii Remote in conjunction with the Nunchuk, or you could simply use the remote by itself. Also, the Wii Classic Controller and Gamecube controllers are also fully compatible with the game.
The major downside to controls, as you might assume based on the different controllers you can use, is that the game largely fails to utilize the Wii’s innovative controls. The only significant instance that comes to mind is your character receives a critical hit, you can get him out his stunned state by shake the Wii Remote furiously.
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The graphics are very impressive, especially given how many developers neglect graphics and put emphasis on gameplay. The turtles themselves are obviously modeled after the 2007 CGI film, “TMNT,” while many of the other characters are modeled after the recent animated series or combination of the TV show and most recent movie.
The background environments are also pleasing to the eye. Typically, if part of an environment is destructible, it looks generally poor from a graphics standpoint, but even in this regard, the backgrounds look very sharp.
Sound effects are decent, though not overwhelmingly impressive. The voice acting is good, though I would have been surprised if it had been the other way around, as many of the voice actors from the series have reprised their respective roles here.
The highlight of the entire presentation of the game is the nod to the Turtles comic book origins through the various cut scenes and load screens. While some may believe it’s a bare bones attempt by Ubisoft, to me is seems more like appropriate creative license.
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The Arcade mode is pretty straightforward, but takes all but 5 minutes to beat; even the default difficulty is really easy. Survival mode and Battle Royal are both pretty self-explanatory, beat as many as you can on one life, or engage in a vicious free for all.
Mission mode has just about the most depth in the game, which really isn’t saying much. Here you achieve specific goals and challenges. Maybe the best aspect of the game is the inclusion of an online mode.
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This sort of game perfectly lends itself to the multiplayer experience and it’s great to be able to play with friends over great distances. Online you can play the survival, battle royal and tournament modes.
All of the online modes work well and as long as you have a decent Wi Fi connections, you'll have a blast with this game. The only caveat is some of the modes, for example the arcade and tournament modes, feel too similar and repetitive.
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Missing Links and Final Thoughts
One of the biggest problems with the game is the lack of characters. You can plays as one of the four turtles, April O’Neil, Casey or Splinter. However, there are few enemies, robots, foot soldiers, Karai (from the 2007 movie) and Shredder.
The first problem with this is that there are dozens of enemies that could also be used here: Baxter Stockman, Bebop, Rocksteady, the list goes on and on. In addition, you can’t play as any of the enemies initially, you have to unlock them through beating the arcade mode. Why not just have them all available in the first place? Surely the though process was it would add to replay value, unfortunately this style of gameplay simply makes replay value almost impossible even though it is very amusing in short bursts with a bunch of friends.
While the game is by no means perfect, it does a lot of things right. It boasts great graphics, good sound and decent gameplay, though the latter gets old very rapidly. Unlockables in the game and multiplayer modes (especially online) do their best to enhance replay value, but it’s a bit of a lost cause.
More characters would have been enjoyable, though with so many different film, television and comic series, it’s hard to see a game which would ever have such overlap. This game appears to be a mix of the latest cartoon series and the film, even so, there are plenty of old school characters still available if there’s a sequel, including Leatherhead and Baxter Stockman, both of whom appeared in recent adaptations of the Turtles.