Rockstar has always been known to beat to their own drums and come out with games that really take different paths then most of the games on the market. Most well known for their highly successful Grand Theft Auto series, Rockstar decided they wanted to try to mix it up a bit with Manhunt, a game that can just easily be described as 100% blood and gore.
Before I really get into the game itself, I must say that Rockstar has really taken some chances with a game such as this. The storyline behind Manhunt is not one that children are going to be allowed to hear, and even some adults are going to find it to be a little too much. You play as James Earl Cash, a man on death row about to receive his punishment of a lethal injection. But the penitentiary staff has a different plan, and instead they gave him a heavy sedative injection. This is where James finds himself waking up in a bad way, and his only way out is to follow the instructions of Starkweather. The story goes on from there with you playing as James trying to get out of this awful mess while killing gangs and bad guys along the way.
To be honest it's really hard to feel bad for the James Earl Cash, as he obviously had committed awful crimes and deserved to be put to death. But at the same token you are given a guy who has nothing to lose, and that's why it allows the game to be so bloody.
When I first heard about Manhunt I was not expecting it to be a stealth action title like it came out to be, but more of a beat em up action title. I have always been a fan of stealth titles and Manhunt can easily be compared to Splinter Cell in the way that it handles things in the game. To get right down to it Manhunt is Splinter Cell with a hint of gore and violence in it.
One of the neat things that Manhunt does really well is use the shadows of the environments as hiding places. This is one of the key ingredients to being successful in Manhunt and the execution is all there. Whenever you find places on the path where there is a shadow you can hide there and no one will be able to see you until you get out of it and this is mainly used to surprise enemies.
The one thing that Manhunt really was trying to do with Manhunt was to put a lot of emphasis on the execution of enemies. When you sneak up behind an enemy, James will raise his arm and then you have three different methods to execute the enemy. By holding X this will help you gain power in order to get a more gruesome execution, and that's exactly what you get. You get to see the execution in a movie form and that really shows the gore of the game. Some of these executions are better then the others but they all have there own different styles to them, and it very rarely gets old or boring.
The weapons at the beginning of the title range from plastic bags, to knives, to basically anything you can find. A little later in the game you will be able to use guns, and this is where the stealth aspect of the game seems to wear off, and becomes somewhat of an afterthought. It's kind of disappointing though, because this does seem to chop down the length of the game by a bit, because you seem to be able to get through levels at a faster pace. By the later parts of the game, it just seems like the game wears down on you and I personally became less interested in the game. It seemed to get a little repetitive coming down the home stretch and although the difficulty was there it just wasn't all that hard.
Controls of Manhunt were pretty good with the exception of some camera difficulties that take place in tight corridors. For the most part the controls feel like any other stealth action title and for that most should be right at home with Manhunt.
When we look at most Rockstar titles, the one aspect of the game that really does seem to hurt is the graphics department. Looking at Grand Theft Auto or even State of Emergency all of their titles seem to just not be up to par graphically. With that being said Manhunt does take some of the aspects of other games graphics and integrates them into this, but it also takes a step in a different direction to give it it's own true character.
The biggest difference I found with Manhunt compared to their other titles is the character models, James Cash's especially. Unlike most of Rockstar's usual character models, James seems to have a much more hardened and detail model that does look a good amount better then expected. Not only does James have detail, but the games enemies all have their own unique looks to them that does nicely for the game.
The environments which you roam around are linear and dark to say the least. There isn't much to brag about when speaking of the character models, and for the most part they lack the detail that the character models had. Overall the graphics of Manhunt are good but not anything out of the ordinary. Rockstar did a nice job of making things maintain at a nice level throughout the game.
Manhunt is a stealth game and not everyone has the patience for a stealth title, and to be honest if you don't like stealth titles you will not like Manhunt. What Manhunt does though for stealth fans is adding a lot more blood and gore then any other stealth title to date. The one thing that holds the game back is the repetitive nature of the gameplay that starts to kick in at the later parts of the game. This is where the fun factor starts to hurt a bit, but it's not enough to stop you from completing this one.
Rockstar has done it again, it has taken a controversial topic and made a game out of it and did a pretty dang good job. The blood and gore will be too much for kids, but anyone mature enough to handle the blood and gore will find this game to be a great rental if not purchase.
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