- June 2004

Gameinformer Review

Manhunt is grim, nihilistic, sickeningly violent, and far past any idea of "decency" that might still be left in video games. It also happens to be one of the bravest works of game creation I’ve ever played.

People will call the violence "dehumanizing," but I’ve never felt more like a human being in a game than when I was playing Manhunt. As James Earl Cash, you’re hunted by roving gangs, forced to fight for your life with crude weapons like crowbars and machetes – all the while being taped for the mysterious Director (chillingly voiced by actor Brian Cox). Possessing no superhuman strength, you must carefully progress through the level, using audible distractions and the cover of darkness to kill your foes in myriad gruesome ways. Outnumbered and outgunned, you’ll feel a gripping sense of fear, one much more real than the cheap zombie thrills of games like Resident Evil.

Manhunt is controversial to be sure, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that this is a finely crafted title – its stealth gameplay is very refined, especially in the way its enemy AI reacts to sound and light. Some might find it too slow and deliberate, but I appreciated the way the developers use the pacing to create an almost overwhelming sense of tension. I also applaud the way that Rockstar North forces us to confront video games’ obsession with violence head-on, stripping it of the usual sci-fi and fantasy trappings. It’s easy to say, "How could they make a game like this?" The harder question is: "How could I enjoy playing it?"

Score: 9.2

Second Opinion

Much like a puppeteer operating a marionette, Manhunt tugs at your emotions and will leave you a jumbled mess at the end of your gaming session. Anxiety, uncertainty, fear, relief – you’ll know these feelings well by the time the credits roll. Whether you find yourself holding your breath as an enemy hunts you down or praying that an unsuspecting foe doesn’t turn around before you can wrap the plastic bag around his head, Manhunt will surely have you on the edge of your seat with its amazing gameplay and dark atmosphere. Rockstar also did a phenomenal job of changing up the gameplay and throwing curve balls at the player just when it seems that action is going to get repetitive. The content may be controversial, but believe me when I say that this is one hell of a play that you do not want to miss.

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