It’s the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first PS4 game, but did the Heroes in a Half Shell’s first adventures on the new console generation go as planned, or will this join the long list of bad Turtles-related things out there?
The short answer: The game is good, but it’s quite flawed, while some little details have been attended to, others have been looked over as Platinum Games’ over-the-top kitchen-sink approach to games comes undone.
At its core, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is essentially a beat-’em-up where you make your way through the level’s environments by completing enough tasks for the all heavy sparring boss fight. Our story is simple, Shredder and Krang have teamed up and the turtles must beat up old favourites like Bebop and Rocksteady, who appear a little too early and really don’t play a big role in the game, which is a shame.
When I think of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan critically I have to compare it to Platinum’s previous release, Transformers Devastation, another child of the 80s which was a pretty fantastic game, so expectation was high with this one. Unlike Transformers, this game isn’t inspired by the 80s cartoons, instead it borrows visuals and loose bits of story threads from the really excellent current run of IDW comics, which you’d think would make for a fantastic game. Unfortunately it fall short multiple times.
In this game however, the ultimate flaw when I compare the two games, comes to down to the gameplay. Sure, Transformers: Devastation is fairly repetitive and punishes you dearly for not using its upgrading system, but the gameplay was wide and expansive. Plus, its gameplay was built up of a collection of combos and melee attacks coupled with some shooting and vehicle stages.
You may say the gameplay is limited because of the source play, but then again the team behind the game, who seem to be passionate about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, could’ve been a little more more varied, though we’ll talk about level design later.
When it comes to combat, your options are quite limited and it feels like a sensible person toned down all the wackiness because they’re “grown up and too mature for such things.” You have the option of just two attacks, a light and heavy melee attack, plus a set of special attacks that take way too long to cooldown, meaning you have to rely on pressing the same two buttons again and again. That is why you need to master the dodging mechanic, where the turtles spin around in their shells, and is a great way to move around.
Speaking of strolling about, make sure make use of the grind bars, you don’t want to be strolling around at a merry pace, you’re a ninja for pizza’s sake!
The special attacks range from your bog standard fancy kicks and strikes that you’d find in your standard martial arts movie, to cartoony moves you’d find in the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but those are fleeting. The best one is where the Turtles can create a hologram of themselves and ground and pound everything.
The items you collect are actually worthwhile and it’s worth stocking up on health items, but if you want to have some fun, make sure your purchase some of the laser weapons. Ideal for the boss fights and fun to use.
Since this a Platinum Games title, you have lots of game styles mashed together. For the Turtles outing, it’s stealth, but stealthy banter doesn’t work with this wide space level design. Borrowing a few bits of stealth from Arkham Asylum, like the takedowns, does come in useful but with 3 over-excited AI (or player controlled) brothers, your takedown rate will be lower than Splinters game score.
The real issue from borrowing from the Batman book of stealth is that your conventional map has been done away with and was pretty much the reason I failed a mission, because I couldn’t find the area I was supposed to go to. Instead, you get a Detective Mode scanning ability, and whilst useful for those ambitious fantasies for takedown attacks it just makes moving around the environment much harder.
The level design is great and the visuals are stunning, the levels are re-used as much as Transformers, but you will find the lower sewers stage goes on for way too long and the city and levels rear their head once too often.
All in all Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan took me the Bank Holiday Weekend to complete, with about 10 hours of gameplay, provided you don’t get lost. It’s short and sweet and you can tell the team behind the game was passionate and interested in the source material, unlike the current films.
The whacky gameplay comes to a climax when you get to ride around on top of a giant robot, it’s just such a shame a huge portion of your robot fighting is so flawed since any bad guy with a laser rifle can just think about knocking you off your metal steed and you’re down. Though with the boss fighting against the Mega Krang does make up for it as you fly around zapping the giant brain and hearing the Turtles (who all sound a bit too similar) yell out anime inspired attack names.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is a fun game to play and you will be putting the beat in beat-’em-up, but it just comes undone with very limited combat which you might be able to forgive thanks to the great addition of laser based weaponry.
If you’re looking for something to knock out over a weekend. Give it a go, but I just hope a sequel is on the horizon where the kinks have been ironed out.
P.S Mikey is a riot of laughs in this game, almost makes it worth it.
This review was written based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game provided by Activision.