TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan is Mostly Just a Series of Repetitive Challenge Missions
I’m in the middle of reviewing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan, and while I’m not ready to give an official critique, I do feel compelled to share a few of my first impressions. Well at least in terms of its Story Mode, which I’m finding to be more of a series of challenge missions than a comprehensive campaign, leaving the experience feeling a bit hollow.
Upon firing up the game I quickly fell in love with its visuals, which utilize a cel-shaded aesthetic and an old school comic book look for the Turtles cast, so I was eager to see it in action. I fired up the Story Mode, which is presented to you in a stage select style menu, which should have clued me in to the fact that the campaign is really just a clever way to bundle in repetitive challenge missions into a pseudo story driven affair. There is a story wrapped around these missions and it’s told through solid looking cutscenes with competent voice acting, but when you are actually playing a campaign mission, the experience feels more like you’re facing random objectives based on a roll of the dice, and not scripted out level design like other titles that feature a Story Mode.
It just feels like the gameplay component of Mutants in Manhattan is purely focused on furious moments of button-mashing segments rather than marrying gameplay with the narrative to create a symbiotic experience. There is no sense of an organized mission structure while playing through the game’s campaign. You literally wait for April to come over the radio to tell you what mass of enemies to run to next. You don’t really navigate a level to find its end like most games, you just run from one map marker to the next to either “Destroy all Enemies,” “Diffuse the Bombs,” and other challenge based objectives that have appeared in open-world games to give players a break in between actual missions. Once you’ve completed enough of these challenges the Boss meter will fill, signaling that it’s time to end the level with a boss fight, which again just feels like a half-assed method to drive the player towards level completion.
Again, the problem in Mutants in Manhattan is that these challenges are the mission, so you never feel like you’re working your way through a structured narrative. Hell, you even get mission ratings for each little challenge you encounter in the campaign, which further makes the experience more like a button-mashing simulator to obtain Leaderboard glory than an action/adventure brawler. The whole button-mashing aspect of the game may be more tolerable if the controls were tighter, because the Turtles all feel a bit floaty when immersed in combat, which is odd considering Platinum Games’ pedigree with melee based action games. I was expecting the action to be near perfect, so that coupled with the odd campaign structure has left the game feeling less than ideal.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is definitely an awesome looking game and it does capture the essence of the Turtles, but for some reason its Story Mode was crafted in a way that doesn’t really leave it feeling like a traditional narrative driven video game campaign. You never feel like you have objectives to follow outside of waiting for the next random challenge mission to pop up on the map so you can run to it and proceed with the frenzied mashing of your controller’s buttons. This leaves the story feeling shallow and disjointed, which is a shame considering the source material and the well crafted characters and environments.
Stay tuned for my full review, which will expand upon my critiques. For now, I’d be cautions about a purchase because I don’t foresee the game providing much more than 4-6 hours of mediocre gameplay content.
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