Before I go into the review I think I should at least in part describe why
this review is so late after the release of Manhunt 2 and
try and describe my frustrations at the lack of Manhunt 2
news during it’s time of uncertainty of an actual UK
release ever taking place.
After waiting for almost 4 years for a sequel to the original
Manhunt, the game was finally announced in early 2007 but
that came after months and months of speculation and rumours
about a sequel being in the works at the now closed Rockstar
Vienna at the time it was very frustrating trying to get official
word of the games release.
It came down to finding out from magazine rumours and from
voice actors who had worked on the game prior to Rockstar
Vienna closing. The game was first scheduled for a Summer
2007 release but it ultimately missed that time window after
the BBFC and ESRB deemed the version submitted too violent
to be released to the general public after some ‘edits’
it was finally released in October 2007 in America only.
After it’s release many parental groups called for
an instant ban on the game even though the BBFC had yet to
clear it for release in the UK. Rockstar bounced the game
back and forth between the BBFC and VAC and then even the
High courts got involved in order to get the game a rating
in the UK. Finally in March 2008 they succeeded but the game
wasn’t released until the end of October 2008 during
that time not a single word from Rockstar as to the reasons
for the 7 month delay despite many emails to them and the
people who worked on Manhunt 2.
If I had been told at the time of Manhunt 2’s release
in the US that I wouldn’t be able to buy the game in
the UK until after a full year had passed I wouldn’t
have believed it as it turned out that was the case. Now I
am finally able to own the game and am able to write a review.
It should be noted that this is for the Ps2 version of the
game as I haven’t been able to play the Nintendo Wii
Manhunt 2 has an entirely new story, it has nothing to do
with the original at all, I would have like to have seen at
least some references to original story but that isn't the
case here. You play as two characters who are named Daniel
Lamb and Leo Kasper for the most part the story revolves around
Daniel Lamb who attempts to figure out his past. The events
in the game take place within a 6 year time window, you play
as Leo via flashback episodes which take place 6 years prior
to the start of the game.
You play as Daniel in the present these events pick up from
where the flashbacks leave off, the good thing about the way
the story is presented is the fact you start of the game like
Daniel does with no clue of his past you only learn though
these flashbacks what happened in Daniel’s past meaning
you know as much as he does as the story progresses.
You can expect some nice twists and turns later in the story,
but you may need to complete the story several times to realise
everything that took place during the events of the game.
The game also features an alternative ending for those looking
for a little more which is well worth checking out as it is
actually the exact opposite to what happens at the end of
Through the official Manhunt 2 website some extra story elements
were also added through the use of patient files from Dixmor
Asylum although the gangs and characters shown or reference
to in these patient files never made it into the final game.
If you take a look at these patient files you will notice
a character named Dr. Deborah who appears by name while Dr.
Whyte is interviewing Leo Kasper, before the events of the
game, Leo states that he killed her. I find it interesting
that Rockstar have added these details in an attempt to clear
up the confusion of what happened during those 6 years Daniel
and Leo spent in the Asylum.
I know for a fact that this story has a lot missing from
it, in fact it’s also proven through the official Manhunt
2 website which prior to the games North American release
actually showed areas in the game that are missing from the
final released version. In certain flashback scenes you can
hear characters refer to stuff that has happened that has
not been shown in the game also at times the story doesn’t
quite add up for instance how Leo manages to get from area
Another thing that should be pointed out in regards to missing
or changed story elements is the fact that in the Nintendo
Wii version contains certain scenes that take place a different
way for example in some scenes stuff has been removed and
in others reversed also it is strange how in some Leo is with
Daniel and on the PS2 version he has been removed.
This ultimately comes down to the different studios that
worked on Manhunt 2 but it does beg the question which version
of events is correct? Unfortunately going into detail here
would bring up game spoilers but you will get the idea If
you check out both the PS2 and Nintendo Wii versions of the
I think overall the story could have been better with the
inclusion of the stuff that was removed it would certainly
help explains things a little bit better, it’s easy
to get confused when some of the later twists arrive but for
the most part you will probably see them coming in advance
as some are pretty obvious.
I think the game is missing some of what made the original
great I mean when you first encountered Piggsy in the original
game you didn’t know what to do or how to kill him you
were left to stand in the shadows and hope that he didn’t
sniff you out and kill you or when you encountered Lionel
Starkweather in his attic to gain some revenge for what he
had put you though.
Manhunt 2 doesn’t have that kind of fear element it
just seems that Daniel isn’t locked into the story he
could leave at any time where as James Earl Cash the original
games main character was basically forced to kill his way
out of the areas in order to survive, Daniel is merely fighting
for his sanity.
This can be seen another way though, you could argue that
this sort of story telling makes you so curious that you need
to find out what happens next, in a way it does at certain
times such as a character death in the game, you can easily
find yourself compelled to continue the story forward.
Graphically Manhunt 2 looks as good as the original did down
to the character/weapon models to the environments that are
shown in the game. Rockstar really did a good job of conveying
the different areas , one that stands out above the rest here
is the episode titled ‘Sexual Deviants’ it looks
to be inspired by such films as Saw and Hostel.
Another good example that I can think of is the old house
in ‘Ghosts’ and the streets surrounding the house,
Rockstar have made the house look decrepit, dirty and old
whilst during a flashback the house in this particular episode
appears new, and clean as If it was brand new. This sort of
comparison shows just how much of a great job was done graphically
in conveying how much time had passed.
It is this kind of detail that really stands out when looking
at Manhunt 2 one thing that I noticed with Manhunt 2 is a
few of the models have been reused from the original game
be it weapons or things in the environment which is no big
deal overall as those models were also well done although
I think they should have at least remodelled them.
The animations are also well done, you can expect the same
level of excellence that you saw from the original, the executions
really give you the feeling that the hunter was just hit on
the head with a weapon. The Nintendo Wii version has a few
added animations which actually help, one of which that is
more noticeable is when Daniel or Leo fall to the ground and
get back up whilst on the ps2 they simply land on their feet
and walk away some of the executions also have added animations.
As for the actual characters appearances it’s a slightly
different case, many of the gangs/hunters look similar, some
were altered by Rockstar very late into the making of the
game because they were just too similar in appearance. I personally
don’t think they are enough of gangs either many are
reused over and over in most of the games episodes some episodes
have up to 3 different gangs roaming the area which is when
you really see how similar they are.
Although you can find some differences between the gangs
you simply won’t see anything like the diverse differences
we saw in the original Manhunt such as the gang the smiles
or such characters as the skinz and the hoods. In Manhunt
2 many of the hunters are wearing dark almost colourless attires
and many in the same gang have the same cloths on. In the
Nintendo Wii version this was changed most noticeably on the
pervs gang as each hunter has an entirely different mask covering
I think one of the main things that you will want to know
about this game is the execution filter. After the media coverage
it’s received about how the game was edited in order
to secure it’s rating many websites seem to see the
filter as a bad thing and say that you can’t see anything
during an execution. Well in my opinion it isn’t that
bad at all it actually adds another element to the game, granted
it would have been better without it but I think they did
the best they could when told to filter them because they
were too violent.
Comparing both versions of the filter on the PS2/PSP and
WII, I think the Wii version has the clearest filter, they
have used a green (Wii) and a red filter(PS2/PSP) in both
versions. It isn’t anything to be concerned about game
play wise but if you are buying the game solely for the executions
you may be disappointed with what is presented here.
Some of the executions were removed and some were altered
after the game was edited such as now no execution will feature
the ability to cut someone’s head off even though the
shovel execution on the PS2 does exactly this, you will see
the shovel go through the hunters neck but after the execution
the head of the hunter Is still attached. The only time you
can remove a head is with the use of the axe or saw but it’s
done within the game its self once the hunter is already dead.
The audio is impressive at times one example that stands
out is during the episode ‘ghosts’ while sneaking
up the stairs behind a hunter ready to take him out you will
find that the steps and floorboards at the top of the stairs
will start creaking as you walk over them. Compared to the
original a lot of audio has either been removed or has been
turned down in volume at some parts of the game.
I found there was no background audio at all at some points.
I’m not sure if this was intentional or not but If we
are going by the original this shouldn’t have been the
case. Where the audio is in place it’s top notch I have
heard that the Nintendo Wii version has a lot more audio in
place and that it’s much louder but having not played
that version at this point it Is hard to say in this review
which is better.
I also thought that the hunters had a lot less to say to
each other although that is not to say that it isn’t
as good or perhaps better than the original dialogue that
the games characters spoke. The voice actors that took part
in the creation of the dialogue have done a fantastic job
of portraying the characters they were given, with accents
and humour present in each line spoken.
The use of the dialogue is also as good as the original Manhunt
you can expect the characters to react to fallen enemies or
characters such as Daniel and also to situations such as spotting
Daniel or hearing a noise created by him.
The controls are very similar to the original game although
they have made some improvements to them such as being able
to use R1 to shoot a weapon now rather than using L1 like
it was in the original Manhunt. It makes sense as many other
games on the PS2 tend to use R1 for shooting it is a welcome
change to the controls. A new feature to be added to the controls
is the use of a menu which pops up when you press the select
This menu allows you to select various weapons and items
that you may have but I think this menu is unnecessary as
you can press down on the d-pad and cycle through available
weapons anyway just like you used to do with the original
game. Since the controls have been kept very similar it is
fairly easy to pick them up if you have played the original
and fans of other games may also find them easy to pick up
since the buttons are kept similar.
If you have played through the original you are going to
have no problems when it comes to this, you can expect everything
you did in the original. The goal is still to sneak up on
your enemies from behind and execute them as brutally as possible.
Although you can get involved in fist fights with your enemies
if you want it does tend to result in a quick death similar
to the original although now the hunters are much more likely
to team up on you and take you out choosing to fight you in
groups rather than one on one something that seems to have
been added specifically for Manhunt 2.
You can expect to be spending your time in the shadows waiting
for an opportunity to execute the hunters this can be done
with a variety of methods such as knocking on a wall or throwing
an object such as a brick or bottle as a lure. Depend on where
the object is thrown the enemy will be drawn to that location
giving you some time to take him out. You can judge the location
of the hunter by looking at your radar which can be found
at the bottom left hand side of the screen just like the original
One thing I did noticed with Manhunt 2 was I didn’t
find myself spending quite as much time in the shadows as
I did during the original game. I don’t know if this
is down to the fact that Manhunt 2 is much easier in difficulty
or just down to the fact that I am a much better player having
played the original game and knowing the basic game play mechanics.
Either way I am thankful for not having to wait anything up
to 10 minutes before moving out the shadows and taking out
New Elements & A.I.
Manhunt 2 features an assortment of brand new gameplay elements
which all help bring a new feel to the game. Many of these
new features come from feedback from fans who played the original
Manhunt and their many frustrations at the missing gameplay
elements that they thought would have made the original a
better game. Rockstar have added these new features in response
to that feedback.
One of the new game play features that has been added in
Manhunt 2 is the ability to use environmental executions these
are shown on the radar as a small white skull icon and are
usually around 2 in each episode of the game. The only way
to use these executions is to be behind the hunter while he
is facing the environmental execution. These are named as
such because the executions all feature things in the environment
for example the fuse box, telephone cord, fire extinguisher
or the toilet cistern execution.
I found that some of these were placed in areas where it
was very hard to lure an enemy to the location of the kill.
One that springs to mind is the manhole execution in the episode
’domestic disturbance’ this particular execution
is placed behind a truck which is sitting in the middle of
a street. The reason this one is particularly hard is because
the cops on this level have flashlights and a helicopter aid
is placed above the road moving back and forth.
When I lured the cop to the manhole I would need to go hide
in the shadows but since the cop is carrying a flashlight
and is the only cop nearby it’s pretty hard to take
him out as he spots you in the shadows when he gets close
and if you choose another place to hide the helicopter ends
up exposing you. Other than a few instances I found them be
a worthy inclusion in the game.
Similarly, some are reused a lot over the levels while others
are only used once in the whole game, also some have not been
thought out well such as the liquid nitrogen execution in
which a hunter is dipped into it although nothing happens
to the hunter such as him shattering from the extreme cold
or something similar which begs the question why wasn’t
another execution used such as the oil barrel execution that
we see in other levels.
The extra variety that these executions add to the game is
limited as you will only be able to use them once each per
episode although the gas puddle execution and the meat hook
pulley can be reused many times it isn‘t enough. Even
with that said the environmental executions tend to be a good
thing because they help break away from the constant executions
using a handheld weapon. My only wish is that they should
have added more of them.
The one alternative to using environmental executions is
the gasoline canister which allows you to create your own
environmental execution spots by pouring the gas on the ground
anywhere and lighting it when a hunter is near. If this kind
of ability that I would have liked to see added to other weapons,
it would have really helped, making your own execution spots
is an amazing feature but unfortunately in that particular
episode you only have the ability to use it for a very short
Another new game play feature to be added this time around
is jumping executions, these can be preformed like a normal
execution although you need to find a location high above
the hunters. Daniel will jump down from behind and kill the
hunter with whatever available weapon he has to hand.
These work well and are a welcomed feature but not many of
the areas in the game have a high enough vantage point that
can be used to jump down onto the hunter from. I found that
I was unable to use many of the weapons because of this which
I also found that getting the timing just right in order
to perform the execution was also annoying, you can have the
aim perfect but when you go to press the button to perform
the execution the hunter you have targeted will walk out of
range or the aim will deselect as the hunter seems to face
your direction just as you about to make the kill. This can
be annoying as you may have to wait for the hunter to make
another pass before being able to take him out.
The game also features the ability to break lights in order
to create additional shadows which you can hide in, breaking
such a light will also attract any nearby hunters as they
will hear the light being broken so it adds another level
to the stealth that the game insists you use at all times
but I found this feature to be pretty useless as it is hardly
used in the game itself.
The game also features some basic puzzles, your tasked with
closing several of doors in an area in order to open a main
locked door. In the first section of the game this is achieved
by taking out the hunters in the area and then pressing the
buttons outside of each of the cells and closing them off
which in turn changes the lights above a locked gate to green,
once all 3 are green you can pass to the next area.
It does get a little more complicated later in the game when
you have to open 3 more doors to pass a locked gate but the
twist here is that you have 6 rooms to choose from and many
of them have hunters locked inside so you must take them out
The games A.I. is flawed in some parts of the game, they
really don’t hit the mark that the originals A.I. did
for example while spending my time in the shadows during one
particular level I found myself trapped by 2 hunters. It’s
impossible to execute one of them without being seen so I
had to wait for an opportunity and separate them which eventually
happens if you use a lure.
This particular time however the hunters simply would not
part from each other I threw lure after lure and the hunters
would investigate then stop and look around. They would then
go back to walking around, after trying a few times without
much success I decided to wait it out for one of them to leave
the area but in this case the hunters walked in circles, walked
into the walls and even walked in and out of doorways without
I was eventually forced to gun down the hunters as they simply
would not function correctly which is extremely frustrating
when your low on health and end up being killed doing so which
means you go back to the nearest checkpoint. Even with that
said I would gladly say that the games A.I. can be considered
good and better than most games, the A.I. will function as
you would expect with them hiding in the right places when
you shoot at them and some even knocking over objects in the
environment to gain some cover you can also expect them to
be cautious when you throw a lure or knock on walls, they
walk over to your location and actually peer into the shadows.
This will prompt the game to pop up with a random button
sequence to be pressed, if you mess up and press the wrong
buttons the hunter will see you and pull you out of the shadows
and begin to beat on you until your dead. if the correct buttons
are pressed he will walk away from the shadows completely
allowing you to take him out. It’s an interesting twist
as you cannot simply sit in the shadows anymore and think
your safe from attack, this makes you ready for anything and
doesn’t allow you time to relax, it gives the game a
more realistic feel as you never know if the button sequence
will pop up as it is random.
The game is rather short, you can easily complete the game
in around 8-10 hours depending on how you play. The final
play time isn’t listed on the game as the final times
were removed from the end of each level by Rockstar themselves
so that is why I’m listing the game at around 8-10 hours.
The game also doesn’t feature anything in the way of
bonus materials such as the art panels or bonus levels that
were unlocked after completing the original Manhunt. As I
said in Manhunt 2 all you unlock is an alternative ending.
Although this is an nice addition to the overall game it
unfortunately doesn’t add anything more than roughly
10 minutes to the game as the episode is mostly just shooting
so there is not much chance to use stealth and take out your
foes without being seen. As for replay value, the game is
worth playing through again but maybe only once to pick up
on the story, it simply has no other replay value in my opinion
with the removal of the star ratings at the end of each episode.
This has in effect eliminated 2 things from the prospect
of playing through the game a second time. The first of these
being the chance to improve your star rating, in the original
Manhunt you would gain these to unlock the art panels and
ultimately the cheat codes for the game. You were awarded
stars depending on how good you played the level such as how
many hunters you killed by stealth, the cheats also allowed
you to be invisible and get unlimited ammo such things as
this gave the game a lot of reply value.
The second thing it has eliminated from replaying the game
is the chance to improve your overall time for each level,
in the original Manhunt this would be displayed when you had
finished a scene, the reason your time was so important was
because getting under 15 minutes gain you an extra star rating
you could also post your time online and see if other people
could beat your score.
I think with those being eliminated from Manhunt 2 it has
drastically changed how much replay value it has, Manhunt
2 also doesn’t have multiple paths that can be explored
so you are simply stuck on the same path. With that said however
you can if you wish, fight more rather than using stealth,
some levels will allow you to do that but this isn’t
much to add to the replay value in my opinion.
After waiting 5 years for the game to be released in the
UK I was expecting a lot more from it, don't get me wrong
I enjoyed playing through the game but I can’t help
but wonder what was removed from the game that we did not
see. If Rockstar Vienna had not been shut down could we in
fact have seen a completely different game in terms of how
many episodes were presented and also how long the game was,
it is rumoured that the game featured bonus levels much like
the original Manhunt but these were apparently removed when
Vienna was closed and the other studio’s took over the
I also have to wonder about the game since after the game
was refused classification, Rockstar London went back and
started to remove violent stuff from the game. They removed
executions and added the filters to the game but then they
proceeded to remove extra things for example as I said Leo
is also missing from some cut scenes, and many are changed
meaning both games are not even.
I would still recommend the game to anyone who was a fan
of the original game as it has everything you would expect.
The changes in the executions, cutscenes and the added filter
are not enough to put me off playing through the game and
shouldn’t be for anyone else who is a fan. I also have
to point out that with the game being so cheap now you should
have no reason not to pick this one up this Halloween or Christmas.