Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan review for PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Platinum Games
Medium: Disc/Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

On one hand, I feel sort of bad for developer Platinum Games when it comes to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan. Their pedigree is such that you just sort of expect Bayonetta levels of genius from their action titles, and when that doesn?t happen, you can?t help but feel disappointed. So maybe it?s partially my fault for coming in with high expectations here, but boy oh boy does Mutants in Manhattan manage to miss the mark. It?s not a complete dumpster fire, but it certainly doesn?t hold up compared to Platinum?s library of generally excellent releases.

There are a few things right about this TMNT game. It adopts the art style of the IDW TMNT comics, which I generally enjoy. The game is pretty well animated, the cutscenes evoke the classic sense of TMNT of humor, and while the level designs are pretty bland and repetitive, at least everything is fairly well rendered. Yes, the game doesn?t run at 60 frames per second, but it still doesn?t look bad in motion. I also like that each Turtle has their own set of special abilities at the onset, and I appreciate that you can loadout each Turtle to fit your needs before any given level. I also enjoy the idea behind the boss fights, even if I didn?t enjoy the actual fighting that goes along with it. Having these large, somewhat difficult encounters against hulking brutes like Rocksteady makes sense, along with the idea that it should take all 4 turtles to take down one of the enemy mutants.

TMNT_MiM_Screen6But that?s about all the positives I can muster up for Mutants in Manhattan. The rest of the game is an unorganized mess of ideas and half-concepts that never meshes together into something enjoyable. Levels are peppered with items that can be used to purchase goods from Splinter, but those purchases are rarely useful outside of topping off your health. Each stage is a collection of random events, none of which are particularly fun, culminating in a boss fight that feels like a slogfest because each turtle hits with an impact akin to a pillow.

The combat mechanics are there on paper, with a dodge and parry ability that should feel satisfying when pulled off successfully, but it?s rarely worth the effort. Most of the time boss battles will be spent waiting for the cooldowns on your special abilities to wind down, because using those is about the only way to make a significant impact in a fight. Even basic enemies are a chore, especially since the brain-dead A.I. of the other turtles tends to become easily distracted, making it difficult to focus their attention on your current target. There are some basic A.I. commands built in here, but I?ll be damned if I could ever get my ?partners? to follow along when needed.

TMNT_MiM_Screen8Multiplayer alleviates some of this, and is certainly the best way to experience Mutants in Manhattan. However, at least on PS4, online multiplayer feels as if it?s DOA. The game hasn?t been out much more than a couple weeks, and I can only ever find 2 or 3 active lobbies. Even then, it?s a rare occasion to get a full group of people together at this point, and sometimes joining up just times out or all parties hit ready and nothing ever happens, making the online experience needlessly frustrating.

I unfortunately can?t really suggest anyone should pick up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan. As a pretty big fan of the franchise, and the old arcade hits, this game does little to capture the sense of fun in any way that actually matters. Instead you are left with a 3 hour game that feels longer for all the wrong reasons. Hopefully Platinum bounces back with something amazing after this, because it?s going to take a lot to wash out the bad taste that Mutants in Manhattan has left behind.

Grade: C-