Platinum Games's take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a mediocre hack-n-slash romp that ultimately fails to become anything more than just that.
When word prematurely got out that PlatinumGames would be handling a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, fans were understandably excited. Given the developer's pedigree (which includes the likes of Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Transformers: Devastation), there was a lot of potential for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan to be a fun-filled venture worthy of its brand name. The end result, however, is a simplified and soulless offering that never manages to be enjoyable past its first level thanks to an overly redundant layout.
Anyone that's been a fan of the heroes in a half-shell can probably guess the way the story plays out. Shredder and General Krang have teamed up to take down the four anthropomorphic reptiles (and New York City, apparently) once and for all, and players must suit up as the turtles to stop them. Admittedly, the cutscenes that are scattered throughout the campaign are quite well done, as they make for a reprieve from the actual gameplay, but the story of Mutants in Manhattan is too short to get swept up in any sort of plot. As a result, the in-game action takes center stage, and it wholly underwhelms.
Those hoping for deep, precision-based, and chaotic gameplay on par with the aforementioned Bayonetta will be sorely disappointed. Platinum has dumbed down the play to a level where dodging and parrying (which are both included) aren't even needed, and this is where the repetition begins to set in. Each new area is filled with wave upon wave of enemies, and missions that more or less just require users to take those baddies down.
Players will become aware of these tasks through the ever-helpful April O'Neil, but the thing is that the assignments are essentially just a handful of the same recycled missions. Defuse a bomb, take out all the enemies in an area, or move an object from Point A to Point B – regardless of how PlatinumGames has tried to paint these scenarios, they simply come down to executing the same actions over and over again. These are so reoccurring that it quickly becomes second nature, and the experience suffers substantially because of this.
The boss battles that turn up at the tail end of each level don't help to mix things up significantly either. While it's great to see favorites like Bebop and Rocksteady turn up during a playthrough, combatting them comes down to using special attacks and having enough sense to not run at them when they start flailing around or launching projectiles. Given the wide range of boss characters that are present in the title, there are mild amounts of variety that distinguish them from one another. These make for some refreshing moments to be sure, but they are fleeting since familiarity sets in as the boss's health bar slowly gets chipped away at.
Now, the only reason that can be seen for what essentially equates to a dumbed down retread of Platinum's endearing hack-and-slash formula is the fact that Activision probably wanted the game to appeal to a wide range of players – with an emphasis on the Nickelodeon crowd. Simplifying the combat makes it more accessible, but the end result has cost fans one of the better opportunities they've had at receiving a top-tier Turtles video game.
One front that TMNT aficionados were likely hoping Mutants in Manhattan would deliver on is the multiplayer. Suiting up as either Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, or Michelangelo alongside three other friends is an endeavor worth exploring in theory, but the finished title doesn't feature local co-op in any form. Instead, users will have to take their desire to partner up online, which has various degrees of success. Fortunately, jumping into a match works with little issue, but the core problem that often popped up stemmed from simply finding four players to tear through a story mission with.
This is likely a subjective issue – playing at certain times may vary full-team discovery success – and it's nice to report that there wasn't any lag or other issues that popped up in this time. What was irritating, however, was the fact that progress made within multiplayer mode didn't carry over to the single-player story. This meant that retreading through the map in a solo effort became necessary, and it's sad to report that doing this felt more like a chore than an appealing option.
Despite the excitement that accompanied Mutants in Manhattan, PlatinumGames has created a subpar product that has been discounted appropriately. Maybe Activision would have allowed for more development time or encouraged more depth from a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title in another life, but this slog of a game fails to innovate or entertain for long on any level. Truly, this is one of the biggest wastes of potential in gaming.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is currently available on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PS4 copy from Activision for review purposes.