Preview

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan

Debating The MOBA Structure And Open-World Super Hero Movement
by Luke Walaszek on Mar 15, 2016 at 04:00 AM
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Platinum Games
Release:
Rating: Teen
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Activision recently invited us in for some hands-on time with Platinum’s upcoming brawler, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan. After playing through a stage with Kyle and Ben, we had plenty to say about Mutants in Manhattan. Though our time with the game was short, its modern take on the multiplayer beat ‘em up left a lasting impression. We sat down to discuss the turtles’ latest adventure and offer some of our impressions.

Connor: When we first started chatting about our Mutants in Manhattan experience, you equated it to the 1992 brawler Turtles in Time, and I agree with that to a degree. The four player co-op is fluid and fun in a similar way, and there are definitely those over-the-top sequences filled with Foot Ninjas. On the other hand, it’s a 3D action game now; the overall structure of the encounters are different. Mutants in Manhattan seems to be trying to pack as much content and fan service into itself as possible.

Luke: Mechanically, Mutants is a whole new beast, but it’s channeling some the same values as Turtles in Time. It’s an attempt to modernize the co-op arcade beat ‘em up and bring that feeling to console gaming. The levels in Mutants are all set up as a number of random objectives and a final boss encounter. During those missions, you’re getting stronger, leveling up, picking up items to use against the boss. It sort of reminds me of leveling up in a MOBA or even during a raid in an MMO. The special attacks also feel very MOBA-y. Each Turtle has a different ultimate attack and a different support power built to aid his brothers in combat. Leo slows down time, Mikey cheers them on and grants a buff – stuff like that. I got pretty attached to Raphael during our playthrough and I could sense that everyone else felt the same way about their turtle, too.

Connor: I guess you could call most of the enemies “creeps” in that regard. I wasn’t too keen on the randomly generated encounters that pop up, but we’ll wait and see what kind of variety those encounters have in the final version. What struck me as interesting were the traversal options, since each level is like a self-contained open world. You’re playing as your favorite Turtle and doing stuff like jumping across Manhattan’s rooftops, gliding around with a parachute, and grinding on rails. As you do that you collect power-ups that will also help you against the boss. It feels like it’s in the vein of Sunset Overdrive or InFamous in terms of its movement system.

Luke: Yeah, the movement stood out for me as well. It was so smooth, and it always felt like it knew what I wanted to do, even when I screwed up. In that way, it felt even better than Sunset or InFamous. The lock-on system helped with that, too. I never lost track of where I was, even while in motion. 

Connor: I definitely appreciated the lock-on system. Most action games have a pretty incompetent camera, so not having to waste my time fiddling with the right stick when I should be attacking was great. The lock-on snaps to an enemy and stays there, and no matter how much you move or attack, the game continues to run at 60fps and 1080p. That was impressive, given the way it looks with four players on screen doing different things all at once. The cel-shaded art style made me think back to Ultimate Spider-Man, too.

Luke: Did you like the art? It looks a lot like the IDW comics but the character designs were closer to the ‘80s cartoon. It was sort of a mash-up of ideas and styles, and while it didn’t necessarily feel eclectic, it might have been nice to see the game pick a version of the Turtles and stick with it. What do you think?

Connor: I have virtually no experience with the IDW comics, but the style and character of the Turtles themselves certainly felt like it came out of the '80s TMNT show. As someone who has only watched that show a handful of times, the dialogue in Mutants in Manhattan came off as hammy and goofy. I’m probably not the person to be making that call, though, since the writing in the game could be totally authentic to the show.

Luke: The Turtles demand that sort of dialogue. They’re radical dudes, Connor. You’re just not as hip with the kids as I am. It felt very Turtles to me, in mood and in gameplay, but it also felt distinctly Platinum. The studio is a great match for the property. Is there anything you’d like to see from Mutants in Manhattan that you felt was missing from the demo?

Connor: I’d hope the randomized objectives are more distinct, and I think the environments could have looked a little better, but other than that it had pretty much everything I expected. The four of us ran around doing those objectives, and we got to take on Bebop inside a huge bank vault once we had done enough of them. He wasn’t an easy fight, even with the four of us. I liked that Platinum didn’t compromise on what makes a solid action game, and that includes a good challenge. It looks like the studio has really poured some love into Mutants, like they did with Transformers.

Luke: I agree. The fight felt challenging without ever feeling oppressive. Every time one of us got knocked out, or “shell-shocked” as the game says, we’d be dropped into a button-mashing pizza eating mini-game. The game only ends if all four Turtles are knocked out at the same time. It’s a good system because it punishes poor play, but it’s still fun for everyone on the team regardless of skill level. That’s a tough balance to strike in co-op games. 

Connor: I’m intrigued by the idea of playing a 3D action game in co-op, with four people online at once. As someone who adores Platinum’s original work and was pleasantly surprised by Transformers Devastation, I’m keeping Mutants in Manhattan on my radar. Anything else you want to say in conclusion?

Luke: Yes. Raph is OP and I love it. That is all.

For more on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan, check out the latest issue of the magazine for a preview. The game is releasing on May 24 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.