Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is not a very good game. I know it’s a bit of a downer to start a review off this way, but it needs to be said. It’s the kind of game that a select group of fans were amped for: A Platinum developed take on the cult favourite half-shell heroes that feels half-done at best. And that’s a crushing disappointment after the launch last year of the magnificently old-school Transformers: Devastation, a four-hour game with tens of hours of entertainment in one convenient package.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan drops the ball on that momentum. If Platinum had decided to repackage their previous attempt with turtle skins and swapped out Decepticons for Foot Clan ninja, no one would have complained. Instead, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan feels like multiple ideas locked in a civil war with one another, components which fail to connect to each other in any meaningful or competent way at all.
The biggest failure here? The core action itself that Platinum has honed down to a fine art over the years.
Look, I know it’s unfair to judge a game on what it should have been. Completely unfair. But at the same time, there’s a certain sense of familiarity and expectations attached to a certain brand. Developer Platinum Games has done just that over the years. Bayonetta and its Nintendo-bound sequel are a pair of the finest action games ever made. The previously mentioned Transformers: Devastation was a surprise hit which balanced nostalgia with thrilling gameplay perfectly.
And that all cycles back to how Platinum usually knows how to craft an action setpiece. That delicate dance of dodges and parries, a tango de la muerte of light and heavy attacks that create a symphony of pain. None of that is present in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan. It’s a button-mashing exercise to the extreme, as the turtle quartet are impossible to keep proper track of when the action unfolds.
It’s messy, horrible stuff that makes one-one combat pointless. Even worse, the action has about as much impact and weight to it as a Vanilla Ice cameo in the first TMNT sequel. Battles are lacklustre affairs against nunchaku-sponge Foot Clan and Krang drones, feeling more like a chore than anything else. It’s the equivalent of a boxing match where the pugilists wear over-sized beach balls for gloves. I cannot emphasise enough just how much of a letdown the combat really is.
Even worse are the boss fights. From a developer who made an endgame fight with a US senator one of the most thrilling events of all time in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, comes a selection of watered down end of level foes. There’s no actual peril here at all, as the likes of Bebop, Slash and a few more are more frustrating than deadly. Four turtles means more health bars, which can easily be whittled down without any real sense of strategy at all.
To get to those disappointments requires surviving a level. And by surviving, I mean maintaining enough interest to actually keep on playing. An empty sandbox, a gauge that fills up as you defeat goons across the stage and the eventual boss fight. Rinse and repeat and oh my f*** I had to do this for several hours when I was ready to defenestrate myself after the first few minutes of this barebones experience.
The AI is barely able to poke you with the sharp end of a pointed stick, but on the plus side, you don’t even have to lift a finger to fight back. Your trio of brothers can hop and defend you as they prevent you from actually having any sense of fun with a combo, offering instant revives during the thick of battle provided that they haven’t been confounded by random moments of gravity.
One day, I’m going to be murdered after going too far with a meme, and Satan will be waiting for me with a console library that only includes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan games. Either that, or a marathon of Come Dine With Me episodes for the rest of eternity. And it doesn’t get any better on the visual front either.
I mean, sure, the Turtles and their entire rogues gallery look fantastic. But everything else feels like minimum effort. Bland backgrounds and textures that were pulled from a PS2 era game, lacking any of the bright and lavish details seen in Transformers: Devastation. It’s also apparently locked to 30FPS according to massively angry PC users, so have fun with that.
Look, just kill me now. Or make me watch that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie where they time travel to feudal Japan, it’s pretty much the same thing. I’m a fan of TMNT as it is, something I wear on my sleeve when I wax lyrical about the current Nicklelodeon series or my love of the wonderfully stupid live action movies.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan has none of that narrative charm even, as I spent last night fantasising about immolating this incarnation of Michelangelo for beating the joke of his love of pizza into the ground like a South African comedian whose entire routine relies on race differences.
F*** it, I’m done. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is oppressively dull, mediocre and it has the audacity to sell itself as a full-priced game. I’ll never get those handful of hours back, they’re gone like breath on a mirror. Do yourself a favour, and play Transformers: Devastation instead if you’re looking for an action-packed retro romp.
Last Updated: June 6, 2016