Developed by workhorse Japanese studio Platinum Games, Mutants in Manhattan is a curious outing for the lean, green fighting machines. Closer to the original Eastman/Laird comics than any live action or animated version of the team, the story mode sees Leo, Mikey, Raph, and Donnie battling their way through an open-plan New York stage by stage, each one culminating with a boss battle against their worst enemies.
Gameplay is, for better or worse, standard for Platinum – hack and slash third-person battles, now with some added co-operative play. Those playing solo can switch between your active Turtle at any point, each boasting their own unique special skills, with AI filling in for the other three. Collaborative team moves add some spectacle, but overall, combat is a routine hammering of heavy and light attacks, with some ranged shuriken takedowns and token stealth kills thrown in for good measure.
Unfortunately, where Platinum's other licensed titles of recent years – notably The Legend of Korra and Transformers Devastation – can be fairly criticised for their linearity, Mutants in Manhattan has the opposite problem. Its open city layout coupled with objectives spawning seemingly at random give it a lack of focus.
Enemies appear with little rhyme or reason, sometimes stealing items you have to guide back to their owners, other times just as hordes to be defeated. Difficulty also varies wildly, especially when it comes to bosses. It's also frustratingly vague in places - the very first mission has a section telling you to rendezvous with TMNT stalwart April O'Neill, and to use the game's augmented reality-style T-Glass feature to find her, but the actual spot was almost impossible to locate. Similar goals throughout the game don't improve matters.
Where Mutants in Manhattan earns some points though is its sense of design. The cel-shaded aesthetic is gorgeous, and while New York is a weirdly bland assortment of boxes (not that different from the real thing, to be fair), navigating it is fun. Ninja prowess lets the Turtles scramble up buildings, grind along rails, and glide on air currents – skills which can be worked into fights to liven them up. If it weren't for the repetitive battles popping up, you could have a great time zipping around Manhattan like a mutant Tony Hawk.
Mutants in Manhattan's greatest sin though is a lack of local co-op. This is a game intended to be experienced by four players, and while online works well enough, it's no patch on playing Turtles in Time with four friends in the same room.