Manhunt (PS2)

by Dijita

The last thing you remember is being on death row lying on the steel table waiting the lethal injection. Now you wake up to find yourself in a room, dizzy and short of breath. An eerie voice booms through the intercom, “You’re not dead… yet… do as I say, make it through the night and I promise you this will all be over before the night is out.”

You are James Earl Cash, a prisoner believed by the public to have been executed through lethal injection, and are now caught in the plans of a sadistic snuff film maker. You are the star, are you ready to perform?

Welcome to the latest video game from Rockstar Games, made famous for their Grand Theft Auto series. For the most part they’ve created games that have always pushed the envelope in its violence and sexual content; Manhunt is no exception. This third person perspective stealth action title marks the release of the most violent, darkest, and disturbing game ever. The game is constantly illustrating intense and graphic acts of violence. It might make you wonder if this title relies on pure shock value for entertainment, or if it actually has a lot of good solid game play?

As said earlier, the game fits into the third person stealth action genre. This is a newer genre that has picked up a lot of momentum over the years with games such as Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Metal Gear Solid Substance, and the Hitman series. If you are not a fan of these types of games because you find them slow paced or don’t like the idea of trial and error then Manhunt will certainly not appeal to you. However if you like the suspense that this type of genre can build, then as far as game play is concerned, Manhunt gives no reason to shy away from it; the added graphic violence simply adds a new twist to the stealth genre.

Just like any other stealth genre, you can hide in shadows waiting for your next victim to carelessly walk by. One of the more interesting points in this game is the use of the radar. Instead of displaying where all the enemies are, it only shows you the enemies that are making any kind of noise. This adds a bit of tension to the game as you still have to be extra careful when going around corners since you don’t know if there is someone standing there waiting for you. Just like the enemies you too are capable of making noise. Running fast or bumping into objects for example are things you may want to avoid if you wish to stay alive. However intentionally throwing a glass bottle or a decapitated head to lure the enemy can be extremely effective.

If you’ve played any of the Grand Theft Auto series, you will find the controls just as easy to get accustom too. The first scene in the game will guide you through the controls, so there is no need to delve deeply into the instruction manual right off the bat. If you happen to get into hand to hand combat, you can either run away and try and find cover, or you can punch and kick your foe until he drops to the ground. There is also an action button that will perform various things depending on the situation such as lean up against a wall, or kick a trashcan to create a diversion. Just like Grand Theft Auto there is an auto aim button that will target the nearest person and it comes in handy when you need to maneuver without losing sight. One of the most interesting aspects of the controls is the intensity of the execution. When sneaking up on a gang member from behind your character will assume a ready position. At this point you can hit your attack button and the longer you hold it, you will notice the target icon will change from white to yellow to red, red being the most gruesome kill (and gruesome it is!). Of course the longer you hold it, there’s a better chance the person will turn around and realize you are there.

There are also a great variety of weapons in this game. Close up ones consist of plastic bags, shards of glass, knives, various sizes of baseball bats, machetes, axes, crowbars, and a lot more. Combined with the three different intensities of execution there’s a bit of variety to satisfy everyone’s gory cravings and you won’t find the executions become monotonous. When the action starts getting more intense you’ll find some long-range weapons such as shotguns, sniper rifles, and even a nail gun.

Does the game look and sound good? In short yes. The game is very stylistically done. The atmosphere in the game is intoxicating, and at times downright creepy with its grainy washed out look that is very well suiting. A lot of it is the result of the way the game looks, feels, and sounds. The developers gave the game a very cinematic feel to it that you really have to see for yourself. For example each time you perform an execution you cut to a scene that looks as though you are viewing it from the directors camera using a very nice filter effect. Everything is done in such great detail, from the textures on the walls, to the animation, right down to the bleeding nose and cuts and bruises you incur the more you get hurt. Even the sound effects are amazingly done, so well done it becomes downright disturbing to hear the sound of a skull crack or the gurgling noise of the blood squeezing its way out of a wound. There is a lot of dialogue to be found in the game and most notably “the director” that put you into this hell has provided some fantastic voice acting. The ambient music in the background, which I would compare to the movie SE7EN, is nice and builds up as the tension in the game rises. Play this game at night and you will see the collaboration of sound and scenery come together to create one of the most chilling atmospheric games ever made.

The game of course does not come without its faults. The game play, controls, graphics and sound out weigh the flaws that this game carries but the flaws are still worth mentioning. My biggest complaint about the game is that it may feel a bit too linear at times. The character that you play cannot crouch, jump, or climb up and over obstacles, and if they would’ve implemented this I think the game would have felt a lot bigger and more dynamic. Another flaw is that the enemy’s AI is not that smart. For the most part they follow the simple pattern of rushing you when you are spotted and then walking away when they cannot see you in the shadows. It might have been more interesting if they made some smarter enemies who actually searched in the shadows for you, or run away to get back up, or just plain run away out of fear.

So overall, Manhunt gets the job done. It provides us with an entertaining stealth game that incorporates some very extreme violent subject matter. Everything found within this game only heightens its disturbing atmosphere and theme. This game is not for the weakened stomach, but if you are looking for something a little bit different with a lot of shock value than this game is for you.

  • Manhunt (PS2)
  • by Dijita
  • Published on January 1st, 2004
Manhunt (PS2)
October 16th, 2003
8 / 10

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