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PS2 Reviews: Manhunt


Manhunt  screenshots


The Final Say!


 -  reviewed by Tory Favro
Review Score 9.2/10 
(not based on an average)
Distributed By: Take 2 Interactive

Rockstar Games are responsible for one of my favourite games of all time, Grand Theft Auto Vice City and here they are with another installment of insanity for gamers to sink their teeth, fists, glass shards and plastic bags into. Manhunt, the name of the new title and the way that you play the game would have to be one of the bloodiest, creepiest titles I have played in a long time.

Welcome to a world of fetish and of S&M tendencies. Welcome to a world where the public demands and craves snuff movies. Welcome to death by video. This game has it all and afterward you'll have a dirty taste in your mouth, yes it is that hardcore.

So don't say that you haven't been warned if you buy this game and are shocked by the level of violence and language that you see in it. I'm sorry as normally I am an advocate for free speech and against censorship, however I believe this game was misrated and should be 18 years and over. Parents should understand that this is not a good game for the kids and I think will be troubling for most players. For those of us who can stomach this sort of thing, welcome to the review proper and a game that I am sure that you will enjoy.

You play the part of James Earl Cash, a convicted felon who has been on Death Row for years and finally met his maker, or so the public thought. In reality he has been spared to "perform" in vicious snuff movies for the buying public under the speculative eye of overseer Director Starkweather who has set up an entire city called Carcer to be his personal entertainment area where the only form of enjoyment is to be derived from killing others whilst Starkweather films it all on close circuit television. This is as close to a real story as we get folks, the game is not about the tale but how we get there.

A combination  of stealth and direct fighting is the key to this title and you are walked through it to a certain extent. I do recommend getting a USB Headset before undertaking this game as it will totally change your perceptions about the title and indeed the way you play the game in the first place.

Manhunt utilises the USB headset in a special way that certainly had me impressed and I am sure that other games will copy this and use it in a similar fashion. If you wear the headset at the start of the game, the game will detect it and send all of Starkweather's communications directly to your ear, making it incredibly creepy. I can recommend getting the headset for this reason alone, it is without a doubt one of the creepiest things I have experienced on a headset yet on a console. Add to this the fact that Starkweather is voiced by actor Brian Cox (you will no doubt have seen him play the role of William Stryker in X-Men 2).

Now we get to the true part of what makes the headset such an essential part of the game is that the hunters in the game can actually hear you and will react to sounds that you make in the real world. To say that this adds an element of tension to the game is an understatement that cannot be overlooked nor forgiven. It makes every noise count and there is nothing worse that sneaking up on a hunter and accidentally coughing in the real world which causes the game to react to you. It's amazing and I am sure that other developers will copy it quick smart.

Some will be thrown also by the fact that there are only two difficulty settings on the game as well, medium and hard. Hopefully this and the fact that the game is quite unforgiving will also prove to be a deterrent to younger gamers who might have gotten this game on the sly. I cannot stress enough that it is an adults only title.

Graphically this game is going to remind gamers of Grand Theft Auto but with a far better control of Cash than you had over Tommy Vercetti when on foot. This is a stealth title and the ways in which Cash gets through the world almost all rely on him not getting outnumbered at any one time. Frankly for at least half of the game he will only have the most basic of weapons and the focus of the title will most certainly ride on your staying hidden and taking action when it is safe to do so. Detail in the title is wonderful and considering how gruesome the game is, this is sometimes a disturbing thing! Streets and characters have a life of their own and after a few days playing this game you will be more than glad that their life is not yours other than when you are playing.

In terms of difficulty, players are going to find themselves repeating a lot of stuff as the game is just damn hard, there's no other way of facing that fact. You are going to need to practice and practice, however the sheer challenge of getting through some of these ungodly goals will no doubt keep player's interest levels up. Those who are after even more goals would be well advised that the bloodier the kill the better the rewards that will be given in the form or behind the scenes footage and even hidden levels to run Cash through.

There are two forms of attack and murder and they can be done in a number of ways that escalate in violence. Using the X button does a light attack whereas the square one will do a more violent attack. Holding down the button will see an even more violent event take place. An example of this is a light tap will see Cash suffocate someone will a plastic bag, holding it down and then releasing will see you suffocate your victim and punch him in the face, filling the bag with blood. These gory attacks are played in a brutal easy to see fashion with the insidious voice of Starkweather goading you on in your ear the whole time. It's the most sadistic incentive to play a game that I have encountered, even more so than Postal or Carmageddon, which don't hold a candle to this title, despite even Postal 2's try hard attempt to shock.

The amount of realism in the game is also disturbing with the killings being motion captured so that every little nuance in the way that the character's move being thoroughly placed on display and visually documented for your benefit along with an incredibly ambient audio soundtrack that will have you uneasy for the duration of the entire game.

Your opposition in the hunters is not to be overlooked either with an uncanny amount of intelligence having been given to your main foe. Not only can they hear you through the microphone and in game noise, they are also possessed of a cunning that will astound, being able to track you through the huge levels if you are not wiley enough to give them the slip. Cash can hide in black shadows where hunters cannot see him even if they are right next to him. It suspends the reality of the title, however also provides a much needed way out as well and I think a brilliant addition to the game. As you make your way through the title, the enemies that Cash comes up against will be of greater cunning and your earlier tactics frankly don't work anymore, which is awesome as the game evolves into it's own lumbering murdering beast.

In summation, this is one game that you have to own if you have a touch of darkness in you that needs some harmless expression. Manhunt would have to be without doubt the most full on title I have ever dealt with, yet addictively enjoyable. Rockstar are to be congratulated on yet ANOTHER title that pushes boundaries and gets adults to assess the way that they perceive videogames. It's a must own and play in the dark kind of game that gets a wholehearted recommendation from me.

Get it now or possibly miss out as I believe we have not heard the last of this game, possibly with the press or other busy bodies.

Triple A Recommended!

- Tory Favro

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