written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
To clarify my stance on TMNT and what it means to me, I have been a die hard fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for as long as I can remember. My friendship with my closest pal in elementary school was built on our mutual love of these sewer dwelling mutant teenagers.
So in that breath, it pains me to write this review. While The verdict will be at the bottom of the page, let me start this review off with saying that this game is not a good game.
Feeling like a relic from gaming past, the game is set in a pseudo sandbox with missions scattered around the map. Unlike other games where a sandbox encourages exploration, you learn all too quickly that as you play in this game the big sandbox world you thought you were in feels more like a shoebox. Entering missions from the menu screen is surprisingly retro, but makes this game feel even more dated than it initially appears.
Story telling is fairly linear, which is fine when implemented correctly. Games like the Uncharted series work wonderfully with its linear narrative format, but despite the linear nature of how they tell the story it never felt like a small world. That is more opposite here, while each mission may plop you down into a sandbox of sorts, the limiting nature of the world and its bland environments do zero justice to the legacy of the franchise.
While the environments are indeed bland, this is somewhat made up for in character design. The turtles are all rendered wonderfully, feeling like a good mix between the dark and gritty comic roots and the lighthearted cartoon. From the enemies to the boss characters in each level, this LOOKED like a fantastic TMNT game and with Platinum games and their strong pedigree… I was hoping for the best.
But all the pretty visuals in the world can’t save a game that you can’t enjoy playing. Controls are frantic and lacking in any sort of precision. You control one of the four brothers, switching between them while the rest of your team follow pre-determined actions. You have slight control over them, having them go all out or follow whichever turtle you are controlling. There was so much going on I couldn’t even get the CHANCE to attempt to enjoy the gameplay.
Each brother handles differently as well, with poor Donatello feeling the most sluggish. While I can say I had some enjoyment playing, the novelty wore off fairly quickly when realizing how much of a clusterfuck the whole combat system was. Attacking is relegated to two buttons, one for a standard attack and another for a strong attack. Dodging and attacking is cumbersome at best, and don’t even get me started on countering… it’s a mechanic available but one that isn’t remotely well put together.
The worst bit of the gameplay came down to their attempt to throw in a stealth mechanic. It’s sloppy and feels tacked one, lacking any semblance of polish you need in stealth games.
The turtles can equip basic equipment which provide several different effects, as well as four abilities you can use in combat.
If this sounds like cramming 5 gallons of “something” into a 2 gallon jug… you’d be right. They do so much, but don’t excel in any, some mechanics outright failing. This is not a fun game to play, and after the nostalgia wears away you’ll be left with a barely passable third person brawler with vaguely familiar characters.
In all its impressive visuals, it just doesn’t stand up with its contemporaries. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan feels dated from a PS3/XBox 360 standpoint and doesn’t belong anywhere in this current console generation. It pains me to say this, I grew up loving these guys and even enjoyed the movies. I can only hope that this can foster the conversation that fans of this series want a good video game, I mean… how long did it take for us to finally get a good Batman game… right? There is still hope… at least I hope there is still hope.
+ character models
- Combat is not fun
- Too many mechanics at play
- Confusing mission format