PlatinumGames has a couple of games that I hold dearly, MadWorld, Bayonetta and last but not least Transformers: Devastation, but they have also made some games that I was not particularly excited about like Anarchy Reigns and The Legend of Korra, so I was a little afraid when I was set with reviewing the newest Ninja Turtles games seeing their track record. But since I enjoyed Transformers: Devastation I figured I would enjoy this too as it seemed to be heading down the same track, and sadly I was correct, because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is mainly a re skinned version of Transformers: Devastation
There might be a curse on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise by now because there seems to be impossible to make a great game in the series, because lets be honest here, there hasn't really been a good TMNT game since Turtles in Time and that was back on the SNES and it is still the best TMNT ever made, and they even tried to re-skin that version and even that went poorly. But lets look at what made me finish the game beside the fact that I was reviewing it because there are some highlights here.
The first positive thing to mention is how the game is presented, the visuals are beautiful, just as Transformers: Devastation was presented. The look of the game blends perfectly a combination of how you remember the cartoons and even the comics with cel-shaded graphics. The cut-scenes are luckily not still images with text like the previous TMNT game we got which we no longer mention by name, and the enemy bosses looks ripped out of the comic-book pages. So right off the bat I was excited and secretly giddy inside because it felt like this could be it, this could be at least a good game if not a great TMNT game, but the further I got into the game the graphics also sadly slowly died because of the poor level design which heavily uses the same structures and even sadder the same areas, and that is just straight up insulting.
The combat is somewhat of a highlight though, mixing the different combos up is fun for awhile but after awhile I just wanted to progress and skipped the enemies I could on my way to my next object. The game is set up like this, you enter a map and you get objects from April that you need to complete as a progress bar fills up, once the bar is full you take on a boss, once you finish the boss it is on to the next level, then rinse and repeat. What infuriated me though was towards the end of the game you get to a point where even the bosses are re-used and you need to take them out the same way you did earlier in the game with no changes what so ever.
Speaking of infuriating experiences, at times April will have you on a mission where you need to ride on top of a giant ball across the map to a set location, now this might sound fun for some people it is the most annoying part of any of the objectives simply because it really highlights how the camera is not your friend here and the fact that you can easily get hit once and never being able to jump onto of the ball again simply because you are stuck in a loop of attacks and with a few seconds of animation for you to get on top of the ball again it is just enough time for the enemy to reload their shot and hit you again. One time the game glitched out on me while I was on top of a ball and it didn't quite understand that I had fallen off which basically locked every button I had and didn’t respond to anything because it couldn't figure out that I was off the ball and on foot. This had me forcing myself to jump in front of enemies, hoping they would kill me so that I could respawn and try again.
You can play online with people as there is no split-screen co-op in this game, but if you don't you are stuck with the A.I which to be fair works at most times, but there is a different between working and actually being helpful, and when it fails it fails hard, as one part had me controlling a turret to shoot down a helicopter while the other turtles was relaxing in Mechs at that time, they all felt a need to stand right in front of me blocking my entire view of the helicopter, so I had to exit the turret, take over the Mech, move it away from my view and re-enter the turret only to have one of the other turtles jump back into the Mech and getting back into the same position.
It is stuff like this that makes me sad when it comes to games like this, you got an amazing franchise with years of nostalgic history and so much to work with and you end up with something that feels way too rushed for its own good. A product that feels like it was pumped out to cash in on the success of the ongoing movie franchise, but with the right amount of development time and budget might have actually been a classic TMNT game that would eventually sell even more.
So what happened? Did the message get down to the developers that the game needed to be pushed out quicker than expected because of the upcoming movie? Or was the budget just cut in half at some point? These are questions I would love to get an answer to but sadly I have none, I am just left with a sinking feeling that we may never get another good TMNT game. We get repetitive combat, repetitive enemies and repetitive surroundings, mixed that up with April spewing out the same lines over and over again and again, and one of the shortest campaigns in PlatinumGames history (around 4-5 hours) and there really isn't much here for anyone not a hardcore, and I mean hardcore fan of the Turtles.
Sure there are collectables for you to discover which unlocks TMNT comic-book covers, but that is about it. It is with a heavy heart that I share this review with you, simply because my expectations wasn't too high going into this game. You see I wasn't looking for amazing, I wasn't looking for incredible, I just wanted a good TMNT game, I could even settle for an OK game, but sadly I felt cheated out of something that could have been so much more interesting.