Gamespy.com - April 20th 2004
It's been nearly six months since I last played Manhunt. At the time, I remember feeling rather uneasy about the graphic content of the game -- y'know, the bit where you're the unwilling star of a series of snuff-slash-murder movies -- but I couldn't help myself. I loved the gameplay. The title was developed by Rockstar North, the same studio that developed the world-renowned Grand Theft Auto games. While Manhunt isn't quite up there with that series, it's a really great action/stealth game that's worthy of gruesome recognition.
It's kind of like a really, really, really bloody and gory version of Arnie's The Running Man and Nick Cage's 8mm. Sure, the subject matter is highly inflammatory at best, but underneath the shock value and bits of brain is a really solid, highly enjoyable stealth game with hardcore action elements. Bear in mind, though, if the likes of Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid fill you with frustration, then Manhunt is certainly not the game for you. It's tough, unforgiving, and above all else, a waiting man's game.
out, Cash is given a rather tawdry introduction on how to dispatch of
the mercs that are all over his ass from the second the game begins. During
this tutorial, you'll learn the arts of beating men with your fists, suffocating
them with plastic bags, hiding in shadows, and running from confrontation.
Everything else is a variation of these tactics. Sometimes, you'll be
forced to go toe-to-toe with an assailant, but wherever possible, you'll
want to use stealth techniques to gain the upper hand.
Manhunt revolves around smart thinking. If you're a hot-headed action gamer, then you'll fail. You'll fail so much, in fact, that you'll positively despise the game. If you're calm in your approach, then you'll become a lean, mean killing machine -- which, despite what you're mother might have told you, makes for quite a fun video-game experience. (Those gamers that can't distinguish games from reality need to remain firmly strapped into their straightjackets, however.)
aspect that disappointed me a little was the exclusion of the headset
functionality. On Xbox and PS2, a headset can be used to listen to Starkweather's
ranting and raving (rather than using your regular speakers). Also, the
mic acts as another level of interaction, allowing you to speak or shout
to gain the attention of the enemy hunters. It might not sound like a
big deal, but the extra functionality really adds to the atmosphere created
by the game. It seems weird that this would be left out on the PC, but
there we have it.
Manhunt's over-the-topness comes in the execution system. By sneaking up behind an unsuspecting victim, Cash will see a three-pronged cursor pop up over their head. This cursor changes in color from white to orange to red indicating the level of intensity of the execution death-move. One of three canned brutal animations then takes place, and then you're thrown right back into the action. Bear in mind that while you're prepping to off someone, Cash is in a prone, highly vulnerable state.
Manhunt is a game that's equally well-suited to PC as well as PS2 and Xbox (it's completely absent on the poor GameCube). It's a difficult, challenging game that really takes advantage of the keyboard/mouse configuration offered by a PC, while retaining all of the console-style gameplay elements. Its mature themes are perfectly suited to sensible PC gamers, and in the end, Manhunt takes another step towards blending specific game genres and platforms together. Look past the gratuitous, fleshy outer casing and delve deep into the tight stealth/action gameplay provided. Manhunt delivers.
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