Teamxbox.com - April 24th 2004
 

Teamxbox Review

If you look up the word controversy in the dictionary it would probably come as no surprise if “See Rockstar Games” was listed as a definition; at least as far as the videogame industry is concerned. Ever since their Grand Theft Auto series hit the mainstream, the company has been right smack dab in the middle of the controversy of violence and mature content in videogames. Now we could sit here and debate the pros and cons of violence till we’re blue in the face, but what fun would that be? The plain fact is that while the general population of the world still thinks of videogames as a type of toy, the industry has matured and so has its audience. Rockstar is a leading developer/publisher for a good reason; they cater to the adult gamer with their mature subject matter that can be likened to a gripping rated R movie. Their latest game for the Xbox, Manhunt, holds true to the Rockstar formula and in many ways pushes the limits of what we could even expect.

If you have any interest in gaming (and the fact that you’re reading this means you do), you’ve no doubt heard all the hub-bub about Manhunt when it was originally released for the PS2 in November of last year. Given the title of “most controversial videogame” by many media outlets, Manhunt proved to be a success regardless of all the picketing Moms. Ok, so I made the picketing Moms thing up…sue me.

Manhunt puts gamers in the role of death row inmate James Earl Cash; one sick puppy who is sentenced to death by lethal injection. Cash receives his punishment and is no more, at least as far as the public is concerned. As deranged as Cash may be, the man that arranged his escape from death’s hand makes him look like a choir boy. There’s nothing that Lionel Starkweather enjoys more than a good snuff film and he has hand picked James Earl Cash to be the leading man in his latest creation. Starkweather has an insane lust for blood and violence and has decided that Mr. Cash is the perfect specimen to be placed in the hunter filled maze of Carcer City. By hunters I don’t mean a guy named Buck in an orange vest posting up in a deer stand with a six pack of Milwaukee’s Best. No, these hunters are a collection of corrupt cops, lunatics, serial killers, bounty hunters, and neo-Nazis; the kind of folks you don’t want to introduce to Mom. As Cash, you are the pawn in a deadly game; get out of Carcer City alive.

Gameplay

With a title like Manhunt you might expect an action-packed fragfest. Well, you’d be dead wrong. Manhunt shares more similarities to Splinter Cell than Max Payne as its core gameplay focuses on stealth first and foremost. There are moments when straight up one-on-one fights or shoot outs happen, but it ain’t too often. Therefore if you are a twitch gamer that would rather bust a cap in someone’s ass than sneak up behind and “baggy” them to death, Manhunt isn’t going to be your…well, bag. Heck, you won’t even have access to firearms till much later in the game, so the early scenes are a test of patience and timing.

The basic objective of each level (or scene) is to get from point A to point B while keeping your wicked life (blatant Kill Bill reference there). There will be diversions, like finding a specific item or freeing a captive, but overall the story is pretty simple. The game is spread out over 20 scenes, each being fairly large and multi-tiered in nature. There are an additional 4 bonus levels depending on how well you slice and dice your enemies, but more on that later. First let’s take a look at moving our leading man.

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