Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is befitting of its slightly redundant title in that it’s a bit of a mutant itself. Its various parts don’t seem to fit quite right with each other, and it’s unclear who is supposed to love this unwieldy creation. In some ways, Mutants in Manhattan is very similar to Platinum’s previous (and superior) game, Transformers: Devastation. The art-style is the same, as is the combo-heavy combat with an emphasis on evasive maneuvers. However, while the aesthetics are a perfect match, everything else feels disjointed.
Unlike Transformers, which had a much more open world that encouraged exploration, TMNT places players in a small sandbox and forces them to do short side-quests in order to unlock the boss. These missions tend to be fairly easy, as your AI partners do a lot of heavy lifting, but these henchman beatdowns in no way prepare you for the brutal boss-battles, which are tests of both skill and endurance. The most jarring thing about the whole experience, however, is that the story is mostly in the tone of the current Nickelodeon turtles series, which is aimed at a young audience. While Transformers had a serious plot with some silly moments, TMNT consists largely of a lot of one-note jokes about pizza, which makes the game’s large difficulty spikes even more confusing. Players with enough experience to not be put off by the difficulty likely won’t appreciate the story, and younger fans of the show will likely be put off by the gameplay.
Unfortunately, the poor accessibility does not do anything to entice an audience either. The mobility accessibility is atrocious, and the visual and hearing aspects each have their own issues. No key rebinds, no speaker identification in cutscenes, and visually chaotic fights prevent a recommendation from any category.
By far the worst accessibility category for TMNT is mobility. Keys cannot be rebound, camera sensitivity cannot be changed, and the keyboard controls are some of the most convoluted I have seen. The game requires both keyboard and mouse to play, and the onscreen keyboard is unusable. Controllers are a bit more streamlined, but they still require the use of button combinations to perform moves. While combo timing is fairly easy and lenient, dodging, a vital part of the game, requires much more precision.
On the plus side, I did not encounter any quick time events beyond a few where you had to hold down a button and there are difficulty levels that make a noticeable difference, especially for the bosses.
The hearing accessibility could have been much improved if the developers had only standardized the subtitles. The subtitles are mostly fine in game, as the speaker is identified, but during cutscenes, the speaker is not, and some of the transitions made it impossible to tell who was saying what.
On the other hand, there are a number of in-game features that provide nice hearing accessibility. The game is easily completed without sound, and enemy attacks have very clear visual indicators to help dodge and parry timing.
Visual accessibility is fairly standard. There are not any clashes between red and green, but the subtitles are all over the place. The font color and size cannot be changed, and the formatting varies depending on where in the game the subtitle appears. Cutscenes just have unletterboxed subtitles, mission intros have detailed, letterboxed subtitles, and in-game lines unletterboxed, but have speaker identification. In most cases, the subtitles could be read, regardless of letterboxing, but the ones in-game were harder to read because they often occurred during combat, though the information was almost always useless.
The menus were fairly easy to read, but the bafflingly convoluted controls do make it a pain to buy items and skills.
On the plus side, even in darker environments, the game was in high contrast and very clearly telegraphed enemy attacks.
A new TMNT beat-em up
* A lot of fun in multiplayer
* Skills, items, and equipment galore to power up the characters
* Spotty AI companions
* Terrible mobility accessibility
* Too many different (and lacking) subtitle formats