Posted on 26 Oct 2016 by L Coulsen

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan

The Defence

Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Action, Adventure
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: 24 May 2016

The Prosecution

Minimum
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
AMD Athlon II 3.0 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 8800
AMD Radeon HD 4770
RAM: 1 GB
HDD: 7 GB
DirectX: 9
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 30

The Case

Everybody move along, nothing to see here. No fun allowed! Wait, what, you mean you actually like fun? And you’re willing to do more than make a knee jerk reaction to something from your childhood, that would never be able to live up to the hype? Because even though you don’t know what you actually do want, you know that you definitely don’t want this? Well, then let’s take a look at Mutants in Manhattan that isn’t (completely) driven by childish ideology shall we.

The Trial

Yes, the game is locked at 30 frames per second. Yes it sucks. No, it doesn’t ruin the entire game.

Okay, now all that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at what the game actually has to offer. Because it certainly isn’t a working anti-aliasing solution. Dear GODS the jaggys on shadows…urgh. If there’s something you really should be complaining about, yeah, that’s something that nobody would be willing to defend. Though honestly, that’s the end of the actual problems Mutants has. Beyond the inner child refusing to be satiated by anything, there’s actually a really fun game not so well hidden beneath the surface.

Gameplay is pretty straight forward, and typical Platinum fair. It’s not the deepest combat system in the world, but there are a respectable number of skills to choose from, some of which even change from turtle to turtle. You can have up to four active at a time, with one of them always being reserved for your combo attack (more on that in a moment) but you can at least choose which button to bind it to. Each skill can also be levelled up as the game progresses, making them more powerful, reducing refresh times and adding secondary effects. Though that 4 should be standing out to you. Yes, this is most clearly intended to be played with a controller, with each skill mapped to a button, and it shows. But at the same time, the mouse and keyboard control scheme is far from terrible, just be aware that it’s not ideal.

Challenge accepted!

Your combo move is actually the best part of combat, and is the one thing that brings in a degree of strategy to how a battle plays out, especially during co-op play. See, when two turtles are close together and trigger their combo together, it activates a special double skill, dependent on who starts first. But there’s a rather liberal time frame in which to do this, so one can do pretty much the entirety of the combo, laying the smaketh downeth, then have a second turtle jump in, right at the end, and fire off the co-op move for some totally tubular good times dude. In single player, any AI turtle nearby will jump in instantly, but eh. It looks cool all the same.

There are a couple of other notable differences between single player and co-op. In the former, you can switch between the four turtles mid-level, whilst the latter has you choose one for the duration. The only way to change is by leaving the lobby (which resets all you exp) or by finishing a level. Co-op also requires you to manually select the next mission, but has them all available to play in any order you choose. Which isn’t as silly as it sounds, because your exp also resets between levels, so you always start with default health. Though you do keep your overall level, and skills stay levelled up. It’s still rather irritating that you have to grind a bit so that you can keep up with the tougher enemies.

Visually, there’s nothing particularly impressive, though everything is cel shaded, and I’m a massive sucker for the style. Levels are, typically, fairly large, if somewhat linear. And every environment in the game will be visited at least twice each, which allows for a longer game, but it can make things a tad repetitive. Each area is different in future visits, whether that be time of day or environmental hazards such as fires, but it still leaves things feeling a bit samey after a while.

Chall... uhm, what were we talking about?

Sound design is really good. The turtles all sound, well, like the ninja turtles. They talk frequently during battles, but with enough variety in their speech that it doesn’t become annoying. Whilst everything else, especially the satisfying “thwack” of beating a foot clan soldiers in the face, is, uhm, satisfying. The music is solid too, though doesn’t really stand out at any point. It mostly sits comfortably in the background, enhancing a scene, without ever raising up to dominate and get in the way.

Where Mutants really shines though, is in the narrative. Based primarily on the 90s cartoon series, it features just about every fan favourite character, typically several times over. The final stretch of the game is actually, pretty much, a boss rush. Going back over everyone you already faced off against, powered up, within the guts of the technodrome. With the Shredder, or course, topping everything off. Story segments between each level feature the four turtles doing turtle things like Mikey ordering pizza, because of course he does, and even one moment where Mikey is the voice of reason! Yeah, seriously, that was awesome.

The Verdict

Overall, Mutants in Manhattan is not a great game. But it is a good game. It’s fast, it’s fun and it’s easy to play. With shedloads of collectibles to find, loot items to farm and a dizzying number of skills and items to unlock and level up. Heavily pushing for repeated playthroughs of the game as a whole, and individual levels. If you go in expecting the perfect representation of your childhood, as with anything, you will be disappointed. But if you take Mutants for what it is, and approach it on its own terms – it’s fun. But, of course, in this day and age, there’s no fun allowed. Your loss.

Case Review

  • Cel Shading: I love cel shading, sue me.

  • Turtle Chatter: From Mikeys snark to Raph’s one liners, you will never forget this is the Ninja Turtles.

  • Combat: It does mostly come down to spamming the attach button, but there are a multitude of skills to mix things up if you take the time to familiarise yourself with them.

  • Level Variety: Whilst there are several unique environments, each of them is reused just often enough to become tedious.

  • Performance: Locked at 30 frames with laughably bad anti-aliasing, especially on shadows.

4 Score: 4/5
A good game, that really nails the feel of the turtles, if not quite the heart.

Evidence

  • Graphics: A rather basic assortment of all the usual suspects, with very little discernible difference in actual impact. Settings can also only be changed from the menu screen making them competent at best.
  • Audio: Each setting can be changed individually, but dear Lord the sound balance is obnoxious. You have to turn settings waaaaaay down to avoid your head being split open by the shockwaves.
  • Controls: Very simple, with a small variety of (barely distinguishable) presets for controllers and no customisation for controller of keyboard. Though there is a left handed option for the latter.

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