The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have seen their fair share of good games over the years, but also some bad ones. I don’t need to remind you what a debacle Out of the Shadows was on the Xbox 360; and for that matter, I probably shouldn’t bring up the Turtles In Time Re-Shelled remake, because…oy.
That brings us to Mutants In Manhattan, the latest game from Activision through its partnership with Platinum Games. That’s been a mixed bag in its own right, between the disappointing The Legend of Korra and the awesome Transformers: Devastation. So how does Mutants fare? Well, it could’ve been a lot more of a disaster…but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its problems.
The game pits the quartet against some of the worst villainy out there, from Bebop and Rocksteady to Karai and, eventually, the Super Shredder. As they get closer to their adversaries, the Turtles have to complete certain sub-missions in an open world environment, defeating soldiers and completing tasks as they go along.
This would be fine and dandy, except both the missions and the dialogue become very repetitious. The fact that you’re in a sewer, being asked to go to the bottom of the sewer, and keep opening up manholes about every 30 feet or so gets real tiring…and makes you realize just how ridiculous subterranean some of these villains try are. Seriously – you live in a sewer beneath a sewer beneath a sewer? Just fight me on the surface already.
Also, rolling money bags or other items to a portal point just isn’t that much fun. You’re going to get attacked, and rolling over enemies with them just isn’t as entertaining as you’d think it be.
On top of that, April O’Neil just won’t. Shut. Up. She radios you about everything from reminding you what your mission is to yelling at you to come by the lair for an upgrade. Yes, we know it’s an option. Now be quiet.
That’s most of the negative side, but there are some positives. The combat system is very stylish, combining together weak and strong attacks into some savvy combos. The special techniques are a lot of fun to pull off, even though we have no idea why Michelangelo would be executing a cheerleader dance to pump everyone up. (He couldn’t have just ordered a pizza?!) And the open-world approach is rather neat, as you can pretty much roam around, find secrets and beat up thugs randomly. I prefer Transformers’ more solid structure, but this isn’t too bad.
That said, I wish there was more variety to the boss battles. It’s essentially “hey, let’s gang up on this person, dodge their attacks and pummel them senselessly” almost every time. Even the original arcade game – from the early 90’s – had more variety in bosses than Mutants In Manhattan had to offer.
The presentation can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, the open-ended levels look superb, and I’m a fine appreciator of the old comic book style of the design – it really channels the old-school days of Eastman and Laird, although the Turtles, yes, have noses. (Gotta have something that ties in with the films, right?) On the other, there are noticeable glitches, like the fact you can pretty much keep bouncing on a skyscraper even though you’re not using the safety nets anymore.
As for audio, the music’s okay, a decent mix of rock tunes in the background, but the chatter is a bit much, especially from, again, April. Some of the Turtle jokes can fall a little flat as well, although it’s still better produced than what we put up with in Out of the Shadows.
And I do like one other factor here – online co-op. It runs pretty well, with up to four players jumping in to complete missions. I just wish there was something with local co-op, though – this seems like an ideal game for kids to play with their parents, and vice versa.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants In Manhattan does come up short in a few departments, without proper local co-op, better mission structure, and lacking the option to turn off April’s audio. But it’s not a waste – the combat is pretty fun, the art style is appreciative and the online co-op has its moments. It’s definitely not the ideal Turtle game on the market, but it’s not the worst.