The following review is based on the PlayStation 2 version
of the game and I played the game to completion multiple times
before writing the review.
I plan on adding to the review at a later date to reflect
my opinion on the Nintendo Wii version of the game.
Before I get on to offering my opinion of Manhunt 2 I feel
as though I should summarise what the original Manhunt meant
to me, what I see as being the core experience of Manhunt.
The original Manhunt is seen by many as one of, if not, the
most difficult game of the PlayStation 2 era, and even I once
thought the game to be unbearable. But after a few hours of
playing it you realise the game is not as brutal as the first
impression it gives.
Rather is has a few strict rules, if you break them you die,
but at no time does the game ever cheat you or create difficulty
spikes that are unreasonable. The enemies in the game obey
the rules and the level design allows room to breathe for
those observant of the game and its rules. The game is, by
all accords, a gloried game of chess; you have to think one
move ahead as it could very well be checkmate. If you die,
it is because you messed up, you moved when you shouldn’t
have, your nerves got the best of you and you reacted impulsively,
or you simply ignored the rules that were set in place from
the beginning and were punished for it.
All of this was accompanied by heart wrenching sound design
and a synthesised score that result in an experience that
challenges your nerves, patience and psyche; all while you
simultaneously attempt to tackle the enemies and objectives
that the game has to offer. The very definition of horror
It is an experience that is unmatched in the videogame medium.
While some look at Manhunt as nothing more than a series of
brutal executions, those are nothing more than ignorant thoughts
of people unwilling to experience the game as a whole rather
than a series of slideshow images and take the opinion of
tabloid scaremongers as gospel.
Now, Manhunt 2…
One of the best aspects of Manhunt 2 (and unfortunately
least spoken off) is its story. Much like any good movie,
the story warrants repeated viewing (or in this case, playing)
to get the best out of it. The narrative of Manhunt 2 is split
into two time categories, one that follows the events from
when Daniel and Leo broke out of Dixmor Asylum for the Criminally
Insane, and a series of flashback episodes that took place
six years prior, leading up to the pair finding themselves
locked away in Dixmor.
The game is split up into 15 levels (known as episodes) with
an additional 16th episode that is unlocked upon completion
of the game. At this point it is pretty pointless going over
the event specifics beyond that, as everyone is undoubtedly
aware of them and what they entail.
Rockstar have put a far larger emphasis on the narrative
of Manhunt 2 than that of the original, what they have done
is create a murder mystery, whereby you are driven by your
own curiosity to see the story through, to find out the who
and why. You constantly have the story elements of the game
placed in the back of your mind, trying to work out how one
episode matches up with the last, you are constantly focused
on the bigger picture, rather than what is present in front
This is in stark contrast to the original game, in the original
Manhunt your only motivation was to get from point A to B
in a constant cycle. Right until the last few scenes of Manhunt
your only focus was on what is present, what is currently
on screen and how do I proceed, thus immersing you in the
At times the story (in the original Manhunt) was, seemingly,
compromised at the expense of the atmosphere and immersion,
so much so that absolutely nothing is known of Cash beyond
he is able to perform some really horrific acts without so
much as blinking an eye, no questions were asked and no definitive
answers were given. But then, it didn’t matter, it was
all about the present, the atmosphere and immersion. Rockstar
compensated for this by littering the world with nods to the
bigger picture, nods to a world outside of the game events,
even going as far as referencing Carcer City in Grand Theft
Auto III, some two years prior to Manhunt being released.
For the most part, the characters you come across in Manhunt
2 serve as little more than devices to drive the story forward.
No one character is fully realised in the way that they were
in the original game, instead they all form to piece together
the larger story, who they are is not as important as their
relation is to the centre-point event of the game, that being
one Dr. Daniel Lamb.
As has become standard fare for all Rockstar titles, the
cut-scenes in Manhunt 2 are excellently realised, everything
from the motion captured animation to the dialogue and sound
design are produced to exceedingly high standards.
Just as with the original game the cut-scenes in Manhunt
2 are mostly pre-rendered, albeit recorded in-engine. This
was presumably done to reduce the load times between episodes,
with most of the in-game (engine) cut-scenes taking place
after the initial episode has been loaded up.
Rockstar have taken advantage of the fact that the cut-scenes
are pre-rendered by altering the lighting in the scenes and
adding some post process screen effects to heighten the experience
and dramatise the effect. It is strange then that there are
some very noticeable issues with the cut-scenes, issues that
would otherwise be understandable had they been in game.
Issues including items not being in characters hands as they
move and playing catch up, or Daniel appearing to be hovering
above the ground as he walks in addition to clipping errors
such as items sticking into characters.
Some very prominent cut-scenes have such issues, including
the intro cut-scene to “Origins” in which Leo
informs Daniel who Dr. Pickman is, during this cut-scene Leo
points to Pickman and it is very evident that the polygons
on his hand have been stretched from their bone alignment
resulting in an effect that looks as though someone has taken
a bite out of Leo’s finger. This could have easily been
sorted, if not when recording the footage then through some
photo manipulation, just to sweeten the effect.
An even more prominent, although in engine, issue pops up
during the end of episode cut-scene to “Personality
Clash” in which the camera is focused entirely on Daniels
face and upper body and features Daniel speaking, yet his
face doesn’t animate in the slightest. This is a very
unfortunate overshadow considering this is the dramatic peak
and second from last cut-scene to the game
It would have been nice if Rockstar had decided to up the
resolution of the textures during the cut-scenes, many of
them feature tight camera work which is focused on singular
objects rather than large scale environments, thus showing
up the low-res textures that are used in-game. Then there
is the added fact that both Daniel and Leo have their pinkie
and second from last finger joined, for some very bizarre
reason, I am sure they could have allocated 12 more polygons,
if not for only to be used during the cut-scenes, after all
Rockstar Leeds managed it with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Stories and that was a PlayStation Portable title.
I suppose an argument against the last two alteration suggestions
could be that it would dramatise the difference between game
play and storytelling. When it is all said and done these
mishaps don’t ruin the presentation, but it would have
been nice had they been addressed.
The audio in Manhunt 2 is fantastic and almost impossible
to fault. Some sounds are nothing short of startling when
first heard, the firearms for example, carry an enormous weight,
when firing the shotgun you can hear the sound reverberate
and echo as it moves down the street and I am sure that there
will be very few people that fail to wince the very first
time they use the hand saw to tear into the skull of a hunter.
There are a few sounds that have been carried over from the
original game, but that is no bad thing.
Musically the soundtrack score to the game is good, not as
great as the soundtrack to the original game, but that may
be in part due to the volume level. For whatever reason the
music volume is very low, even when turned all the way up,
so much so that I have even read people wondering why the
game has no music in it at all. The reason for it being so
faint is completely unfathomable. The soundtrack doesn’t
appear to be theme based like the original either, but again
it may just appear like that due to the levels being so low.
As usual the voice actors do a fantastic job at portraying
their in-game characters, with no single actor turning out
a poor performance. Of particular note is Ptolemy Slocum in
the role of Daniel Lamb and Holter Graham as Leo Kasper. However,
no one quite reaches the sinister tones of Brian Cox as Lionel
Starkweather in the original game.
Graphically Manhunt 2 handles very competently for the systems
it appears on. Characters are richly detailed and clothing
looks appropriately creased. Strangely enough though Daniel
Lamb, the lead character has the least detailed face in the
entire game. A lot of the character textures suffer from some
weird anomalies such as having white spots on them as well.
Environments are highly detailed and appropriately lit, perhaps
to an extent beyond the systems capability, resulting in much
of the textures having to be very low resolution and poor
looking when viewed from up close. There is a flourish of
nice touches added to the various episodes as well, such as
the dust particles that fall through the light shining in
the windows during “Ghosts” or the swaying palm
trees and separating grass patches during “Altered State”.
The motion captured animations are easily on par with the
best of Rockstar’s previous work. Similarly most of
the in-game animation is fantastic; however there are some
that stand out as being noticeably below par in relation to
most of the other animations. Such as the single handed wall
knock, it seems really sloppy and has no immediacy to it.
When performing a quick turn Daniel sticks his arms out as
though he is surfing, it looks really out of place by comparison
to the standard available elsewhere in the game. The character
facial animation is also inconsistent with certain characters
mouths failing to move when they are speaking, including Daniel
and Leo, while others will. Fortunately instances such as
these are few and far between and for the most part the animation
is handled well.
The heads up display (HUD) in Manhunt 2 has been cleared
up quite extensively. Gone are the character action icons
on the right hand side of the screen, as is the stamina bar
and the currently selected weapon icon screen real estate
has been significantly reduced. In addition to the currently
selected weapon icon remains the health bar on the lower right
hand side of the screen while the radar remains on the lower
The health bar now turns dark blue when the player is hidden
and displays button prompts (where applicable) above the health
bar to denote such things as wall hug and picking up/putting
down dead hunter bodies. All while the radar functions the
same as it always has, with hunters denoted as arrows and
blips which all function based on their status and sound created
by both the player and hunters.
While the screen was never cluttered to begin with (in Manhunt
1) the achieved effect from clearing up the on screen display
is a far more immersed and cinematic display than before.
Such meticulous re-evaluation of the on screen display carries
over to character presentation, when hidden in the shadows
Daniel and Leo now turn grey with a graphic novel like rim
shading effect applied to the edges of the character to display
that they are hidden, in addition to being physically hunched
over similarly to how Cash was in the previous game.
Much like the original Manhunt, Rockstar have included the
option of applying a post processing filter to the screen
to further the visual immersion in the experience. In this
case it is a series of scratches that produce a slightly overexposed
and surreal visual quality that go hand in hand with the themes
of the game and Daniels sanity and is further realised in
the effect applied to items and objects in the game world,
instead of being static, the objects shake and shimmer on
the screen inducing notions of questioning what exactly you
are looking at, or in relation to Daniels sanity, are they
The camera work in Manhunt 2 is, in my opinion, absolutely
fantastic. It has a well realised hand held camera feel to
it. The effect has been attempted numerous times in other
games but is no better realised than in Manhunt 2. It is an
apparent hard thing to nail, but vital to the experience.
The use of camera within the horror medium is absolutely pinnacle
to atmosphere, immersion and story telling as such if the
camera isn’t right then the experience isn’t going
Thanks to the extra work put in by Rockstar the camera is
never really an issue, it is out of the players control and
you never really have to think about it, allowing for you
to focus entirely on the experience.
The camera is constantly strapped to Daniels back, with the
only player controlled movement coming from the ability to
peak left and right, as with the original game and of course
the ability to enter first person mode to look around the
environment. The locked off camera gives a sense of the confined
environment which extends to crawling through air ducts, in
these cases the camera goes into first person mode, narrowing
the perspective of vision even more, giving a sense of being
trapped without restricting the player. When aiming with a
gun the camera pulls up to the back of Daniels shoulders,
similarly as to how it did in the original Manhunt, allowing
for a more accurate aim.
When leaning left or right or peaking around a corner, the
camera shakes considerably more with the camera making short
jolts around the four corners of the screen. Likewise when
sprinting, the camera wobbles left and right as though the
camera man is struggling to keep up with the movement, with
all that said there is never a sense of feeling motion sick
of unable to read what is being displayed on the screen due
to vast blurs.
The only time the camera lets you down is when caught in
tight in door areas, where the camera has no room to adjust
itself. Thankfully these areas are few and far between and
are not frequent enough to cause concern.
Design and Scripted Events
The levels in Manhunt 2 are basically staged like a series
of single path mazes with very little room for getting lost
and are a great deal more vertical and complex in shape by
comparison to the original game. They are also considerably
smaller than the original game; as a result there is a lot
less room to breathe which can result in a lot more trial
As all horror games do, Manhunt 2 has its fair share of scripted
events that are triggered at specific times and just as all
horror games, some are easy to miss, be it running past the
cells in “Awakening” and missing the inmate kicking
his chair away or there being errors where the event doesn’t
On my first play through the game there was a scripted occurrence
that failed to trigger during “Ritual Cleansing”,
as a result was even more surprising on my second play through.
There are also several events which are easy to miss because
they are out of the way, such as failing to align correctly
with the TV screen during “Red Light” means that
you miss a short cut-scene, similarly during “Ghosts”
there are a few flashes of Daniels past that are easy to miss
due to them not necessarily being placed in your direction
Throughout Manhunt 2 Daniel experiences brief flashes from
his past, unfortunately they are forgotten about later in
the game, which is a shame since they really helped differentiate
the tone of Manhunt 2 compared to the original and had a far
more psychological edge to them, giving Manhunt 2 more of
to Hand Combat
Hand to hand combat in Manhunt 2 is far from ideal. Daniel
is restricted to issuing up to a three hit chain attack, with
the added ability to perform a powerful attack by holding
the attack button down, in addition to being on the offence
there is also the ability to block enemy attacks.
As with the original game taking on anymore than one enemy
at a time is almost certain death, if not more so thanks to
Rockstar (unfortunately) opting to remove the grapple ability
and putting nothing in its place, as such hand to hand combat
is even less recommended than it was with Manhunt 1.
In addition to having a scaled down combat system Manhunt
2 also suffers from the player suffering from prolonged stun
times after being hit by a hunter, in some instances one blow
can knock you down for 2 or 3 seconds, allowing for the hunter
to stomp you to death with no ability to retaliate.
There is also some sort of animation slow down that can occur
while swinging a weapon, this results in is a single blow
swung by Daniel taking several seconds to go through only
for Daniel to stop mid swing.
Rockstar have added considerable more weapons to Manhunt
2 at the expense of them being underused thanks to Manhunt
2 having considerably less levels of play than the original
game and a substantial change in the shootouts to stalking
As a result of the change of pace, the balance between execution
based kills and firearm shootouts seems a little out of synch.
Too many levels focus too heavily on shootouts for my liking.
Rockstar have attempted to counterbalance this by including
the addition of gun executions, environmental executions,
and there usually being a multi use melee weapon lying around
the place at the cost of dropping your firearm.
But all the same, weapon placement is a big let down; too
many weapons are used for prolonged periods of time, while
at other times, such as during “Domestic Disturbance”,
the level is covered with a bevy of weapons for executing
enemies yet the level has a high emphasis on firearms during
the later half. It is frustrating to see weapons appearing
in only one (or two) episode(s), while others are used far
too frequently throughout.
During “Assassination” the player is regularly
engaged in intervals of sniper fire, this can be particularly
frustrating due to the aiming being horrible. So much so that
at times it is far easier to take two body shots than it is
lining up a single head shot. Sniper aim is carried over to
the crossbow, which is very prominent during “Altered
State”, thankfully lining up the bow scope is slightly
easier than the sniper rifle.
The gun sequences aren’t helped by the fact that little
has been done to the hunter AI to make these sequences more
rewarding, in most instances your best strategy of attack
is to simply charge at them and get close enough to perform
a head shot for an instant kill.
and Enemy AI
During the build up to release Rockstar described the hunters
of Manhunt 2 as having
‘Brutal AI’, suggesting that encounters with the
hunters would be more unpredictable and nerve clenching. While
there may be truth to some of that, it is hard to believe
that it was wholly intentional as the hunters seem indecisive
in their actions.
On numerous occasions hunters will go into a marching state
whereby they take one step forward and one step back, and
continually do so until you are forced to show yourself in
order to break them from their everlasting marching cycle.
This becomes problematic in situations where you have to lure
a hunter into place, such as setting them up for environmental
Their incoherent behaviour doesn’t end there though;
from time to time they will notice you in shadows, despite
you not moving while at other times they will fail to spot
you when you are standing directly in front of them or as
you run past them. There are also annoying instances of them
making bizarre U turns and walking right into you when you
are hidden in a shadow despite the fact that there is nowhere
for them to go but to walk into a wall.
Their odd choice of decisions carries over onto the armed
hunter’s; they will inexplicitly shoot at walls and
into shadows for no apparent reason, on occasion causing for
the player to die and them still to be unaware that anyone
was even in there in the first place. On some episodes bullets
even travelling through walls and are able to kill the player,
it is as though the bullets don’t recognise the wall
During the shootout sequences the hunters don’t appear
to exhibit any sort of real enhancements over the first Manhunt,
with their entire focus directed on shooting in your general
direction while making no attempt to take cover, not even
when reloading. There are a few in-game cut-scenes that show
them doing smart things, such as putting an object between
you and them to create some sort of cover protection, but
these are few and far between and are all pre-scripted events
which create no sense of spontaneity on their behalf.
The hunters were said to no longer follow set paths, while
they do now have the ability to act more unpredictable, they
are almost certainly still linked to a series of path suggested
movements. This was made very evident to me during the episode
“Best Friends”, I was able to perform four consecutive
gun executions without having to move a single step, all due
to the fact that the hunters all followed the same path, entering
the shadows in which I was standing and stepping no more than
several inches from me as they made their way back to their
designated starting placement on the map.
However, they aren’t entirely without new abilities,
thanks to Daniel being able to scale objects and crawl into
ventilation ducts the hunters are able to retaliate. If they
notice Daniel climb an object or spot him above them, they
will attempt to make their way up after him and should they
catch Daniel entering a ventilation duct they will drag him
out and begin to pound on him.
In addition, if they are chasing after Daniel and he manages
to evade them they will randomly inspect shadows, causing
a quick time button prompt to appear on screen, should the
player fail to match the button commands, or push the wrong
buttons, then the hunters will pull Daniel out of the safe
In terms of design the hunters are well realised and easy
to differentiate from one another. Much like the original
Manhunt most have their face obscured to remove any sort of
connection between you and them. Unfortunately the amount
of dialogue that they have is immediately noticeably less
than the original game and repeats itself more frequently
than before. What is there works very well, be it the Project
Militia bitching about their “second chance” or
the Red Kings letting the player know where their ex-wife
can stick her alimony – only it gets tiring hearing
the same lines of dialogue spouted out their mouth mere seconds
after originally hearing it.
When it is all said and done the hunters in Manhunt 2 seemingly
only break down into two categories, those being the Bloodhounds
and everyone else.
The difference with the Bloodhounds is that they will more
often than not inspect the shadows, causing quick time event
prompts to appear on screen. While the other packs of hunter
are able to trigger such an event, it is far more frequent
with the Bloodhounds. In addition to being more thorough in
their investigation, they also move far quicker than the other
packs of hunters, narrowing the window of opportunity available
to execute them.
In addition to bringing back most of the gameplay mechanics
from the original game, Rockstar have also gone and added
a substantial amount of new elements to Manhunt 2. Rather
than clumping them altogether I will instead give my take
on each of them individually.
• Ability to Climb and Crawl –
The ability to climb and crawl has allowed for otherwise inaccessible
areas to be made available, in turn resulting in a more complex
level structure. The original Manhunt dealt primarily with
large horizontal areas of different scale rectangular boundaries
whereas Manhunt 2 has more verticality to it and also more
singular and narrow passage ways to be accessed which then
lead on to additional areas.
However, there is an inconsistency to what can be climbed.
Some objects look scaleable, yet they aren’t, some areas
(Domestic Disturbance) even show the enemies in the game climbing
areas that can’t be climbed by the player.
There are only a few instances where the ability to crawl
comes into play, as such it is hard to define it as an actual
gameplay element as the player doesn’t necessarily dictate
when they want to crawl, more so have it dictated to them
by necessity to get to the next area. There are no instances
where the player can really use this ability to their advantage
and it serves as little more than to move the player from
area to area.
• Accessible Cabinets and Lockers
– Throughout the game world you will come across cabinets,
lockers, wardrobes and trinkets than can be opened using the
action button. Inside these storage units you will gain access
to anything from painkillers to killing utensils.
The inclusion of such a functionality goes a way to making
the gaming environment more interactive and takes otherwise
inanimate background fodder and turns them into practical
gameplay elements, making searching for weapons and health
a little more rewarding as you are forced to actively search
for it rather than it being fully on display for you to just
As with climbable objects there is a strange inconsistency
to what can be opened and what can’t. There are only
a few variation models of the accessible storage units in
the entire game, presumably to help define what can be accessed
and what can’t, despite this there remains a few objects
which can’t be opened, despite being the exact same
model as used in other episodes. Thankfully these instances
are few and far between.
• Quicktime (Heart Rate Regulation) Button
Events – Unlike the original Manhunt, you can
no longer take safety in hiding in shadows. If a hunter spots
they will inspect the area, including the shadows, resulting
in button prompts to display on the screen randomly. If the
player is not quick enough to follow the command then the
hunter will pull the player out of the shadows and give chase.
It is entirely impossible to predict when a quick time event
might appear (although if it’s the Bloodhounds there
is a strong chance it will) or which buttons might display.
As such you are forced to continually keep your whits about
you and the controller in hand, making the experience tenser
and more unpredictable than before.
Unfortunately this isn’t without issue; speaking as
a colour-blind person I am unable to separate the foreground
button prompt icons from the background when the game static
filter is on. Playing with the filter off I am able to easily
follow the on-screen commands and seeing a (non colour-blind)
friend play it with the filter on they are able to follow
the on-screen prompts.
This is unfortunate for me as I feel that the post process
filter adds to the atmosphere and the issue could have been
easily resolved with a 2 or 3 pixel border around the button
prompt to help define what is being displayed on screen. While
this may or may not be an issue for the majority, it is a
most unfortunate let down for me personally.
• Safety Shadows and Lighting Manipulation
– Having the ability to create safety zones is excellent
in theory, unfortunately it is not nearly as well realised
in Manhunt 2 as it was first assumed. Instead it is reduced
to five or six instances on only a few episodes in the entire
game where you have the ability to break specifically placed
light fixtures and create shadows to hide in. The ability
is forgotten about for several game hours at a time and is,
in most cases, positioned in areas where they are not required
to be used in order to advance.
In addition to breaking lights there are also a few cases
where you come across spot lights which are set off with any
sudden movement, removing safe zones, there are also some
in door lighting fixtures that switch on and off which also
remove shadows, making you visible to hunters, these are again
used very sparingly.
The hunters in the game also have the ability to use light
to spot the player; these include cops carrying flashlights,
shotguns with attached torches and helicopter spotlights that
follow the player and are able to spot dead hunters, in the
process alerting all nearby hunters to your whereabouts. Again
this element is only used in a few episodes in the game, but
where it is used is very effective and keeps the player on
• Ambient Noises – The use of
ambient noise was one of the first new gameplay elements that
publications spoke of after seeing the game in action. Such
uses of ambient noise include the noise of helicopter blades,
turning on machinery and the moans from a nearby working gal.
Any hunter within the noise range is instantly deafened and
is used to drain out any such noises you may make such as
running or breaking windows.
Unfortunately there simply aren’t many instances where
this feature comes into play and while an interesting and
welcome addition to the game, it is again subject to drastic
• Quick Select Weapons Menu –
This was possibly the first of the new additions that was
instantly flagged by fans of originally when the game was
first announced, thankfully it is an optional aid that may
be used should the player wish. The quick select weapons menu
is not a replacement to cycling through weapons, the ability
to cycle through weapons remains.
When accessed, the menu instantly freezes the onscreen action,
allowing for the player to select the appropriate weaponry.
This is particularly useful on levels which have stealth and
gunplay elements to them as it offers quick access to equipped
firearms should they be needed and is a welcome addition.
• Breakable (single use) Weapons –
Single use weapons such as the glass shard, pen or syringe
now break after they have been used to strike a hunter 2 or
3 times. This is particularly useful for newcomers to the
franchise, as it quickly demonstrated to them that hand to
hand combat is not recommended.
Although it adds a nice level of depth to the single use
weapons, its inclusion is ultimately irrelevant as most players
are going to try their best to avoid taking a hunter on face
to face and are only ever likely to fall victim to the loss
of their weapon once or twice during their whole time playing
• Jumping Executions – Due to
Manhunt 2 being far more vertical than the original Manhunt
it only makes sense to introduce the ability to perform jumping
executions. Jumping executions are accessible through targeting
a hunter from behind when on a higher level than the hunter.
While the inclusion of jumping executions is certainly welcome,
more locations throughout the game to perform them would have
gone a long ways to justifying them being included. At times
it can be impossible to judge where you can and cannot perform
a jumping execution from, and it also requires the hunter’s
back to be in straight alignment with the front of the player,
this is made all the more difficult due to the inconsistent
nature of the hunters AI and patrol patterns. In most instances
it is far quicker (and easier) just to perform a regular execution
than it is to go to the bother of trying to set up a jumping
execution, which is unfortunate.
• Gun Executions – Of all the
new inclusion to Manhunt 2, gun executions are perhaps my
most welcome, particularly due to the considerably more firearm
heavy nature of the game.
It would have been nice if Rockstar had allowed for more
than one execution per firearm, perhaps a silent gun execution
such as beating a hunter to death with the gun and a second
execution involving the gun being unloaded on the hunter.
• Environmental Executions –
The last of the new execution types introduced to Manhunt
2 are environmental executions, which are specifically set
up areas on the map denoted by small white skulls on the radar.
There are basically two approaches leading up to performing
an environmental execution.
The first involves an area set up with a hunter nearby, specially
placed for execution. In this instance you basically just
wait for the hunter to turn his back and then approach him
from behind and push the execute button. The second method
involves you luring a hunter into place and then stalking
him, just like how you would normally execute a hunter.
Both can be hampered by the inconsistent nature of the hunter
AI, in situations where the hunter is set up to be executed,
the hunter will occasionally refuse to turn around to allow
for you to execute him and if he is disturbed (by making visual
contact with the player) then he refuses to return to the
location, making these a one opportunity only proposition.
When luring a hunter into position they will occasionally
refuse to align properly for you to sneak up on them, this
is prone to happening with the fire extinguisher executions
and the manhole cover execution in Domestic Disturbance.
Executions and Misc.
This is probably a good time to bring up the ESRB endorsed
camera filters that were applied to Manhunt 2 in order to
secure an M rating. While it is unfortunate that they had
to be added, I am actually indifferent towards them; I don’t
feel as though they detract from the experience or alter the
gameplay at all. If anything they make more sense that what
was there originally due to them being more inline with Daniels
mental psyche and mirroring such effects applied to the in-game
filters and weapon pickup objects.
What is unfortunate is that some executions have been lessened,
such as the removal of decapitations in most episodes, disembodiment
of limbs and other such effects which contradict the execution
animations and sound design and of course the wire cutter
executions being completely removed and replaced with the
flashlight execution animations.
Experience and Lasting Appeal
For my first two times playing through Manhunt 2 I completed
it in single sittings. My first play through took 11 hours,
starting at 12pm and finishing at 11pm that same night while
the second was 7 hours, starting at 11am and finishing at
6pm. With this in mind, I should point out that I have never
finished any other game in the same day of picking it up,
little lone played for such an extensive time. I think beyond
these two occasions the longest I have ever played a game
is a combined 4 hours within a 24 hour period.
After my initial play through of the game, I recall my thoughts
being ‘is that it?’, after all the trouble surrounding
the game and all those years in development, all for an 11
hour game. I was going into Manhunt 2, expecting a longer
game than the original, which I estimate in the 25+ hour mark
with some 24 levels of play.
This was perhaps a little unreasonable all things considered,
but my way of thinking was based purely on the sheer amount
of content that Rockstar North managed to create within a
three year time span, they made the entirety of Grand Theft
Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and the original Manhunt
in the time span it took for Manhunt 2 to be developed.
Or by a more relative timeframe comparison, they solely ported
the original Manhunt to the Xbox and PC, developed Grand Theft
Auto: San Andreas for three formats, got the Grand Theft Auto
III, Vice City and San Andreas engines up and running on the
PlayStation Portable, aided in the development of Grand Theft
Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Stories on two formats, helped create the R.A.G.E. graphics
engine alongside Rockstar San Diego, were mere months from
finishing Grand Theft Auto IV for two formats and on top of
all of that they were also aiding in the development of Manhunt
2, and all in the time gap between Manhunt 2 entering and
It wasn’t until I spoke with a friend that I was able
to put it into perspective. It was only then that I realised
that most games are barely able to scrape the 8 hour mark
on a first run through, and that is with a lot of filler,
bland characters and a poorly developed story.
I was perhaps putting a little too much emphasis on how long
it took to finish the game, but that wasn’t helped by
the fact that Rockstar have included no real incentive for
someone to go through the game again. The only real replay
value that Manhunt 2 has to offer is a better understanding
of the games story. Where as the original Manhunt has unlockable
art panels, bonus levels, game scoring results, character
skins and cheat codes. By comparison Manhunt 2 is a far more
What I have experienced through finishing the game multiple
times over is a greater appreciation for the title as a whole.
I wholeheartedly recommend playing through the game in a few
elongated time periods and at least running through the game
twice before forming any solid opinion on the game.
By increasing the focus on the story of Manhunt 2 Rockstar
has drastically taken away from the atmosphere that made the
original Manhunt such a compelling experience. Instead of
allowing the player to be absorbed in the atmosphere and tension
they are instead focused on the larger picture, the conclusion
of the story and not the journey of the adventure. A result
of which is that the game is nowhere near as tense, or even
as frightening as the original game, which is very unfortunate.
The level design in Manhunt 2 plays it far safer than the
original game; instead of the areas being open they are far
more confined, giving the player less chance to improvise.
The confined game space is compensated for by littering levels
with specific sequences, such as setting up a hunter for a
jumping execution, or there being an environmental execution
The more frequent use of guns allows for those without patience
to run in blindly, while the game is far more forgiving, even
going as far as regenerating the players health after performing
executions and allowing the player to soak up far more damage
before dying, all of this and painkillers are more frequent
throughout the game to replenish health.
Through the limited use of these new gameplay elements Rockstar
have created a far more streamlined game that hits the ground
running and continues to move at a brisk pace. It feels like
a far more accessible game to a far larger audience, and this
extends beyond the more palatable storyline and beefed up
Every single new gameplay element added to Manhunt 2 is a
very welcome addition to the already established mechanics.
Unfortunately almost all of the new additions suffer from
being severely underused and forgotten about later in the
game, while other functionality such as climbing and accessible
cabinets give inconsistent messages of what can and cannot
In many ways Manhunt 2 feels like the best David Fincher
movie yet to be printed to film. The original Manhunt was
an atmosphere and experience while Manhunt 2 is a story based
journey, and a well realised one at that.
While I am certainly able to criticise, I find it difficult
and impracticable to give a score to anything, as I don’t
believe a number is indicative of an experience, I either
like something or I don’t. But if I were to give Manhunt
2 a score and we were to assume that I rated the original
Manhunt a 10/10, then I would say Manhunt 2 is somewhere in
the region of 8 out of 10 by relation to the original.
Manhunt 2 is not necessarily the Manhunt sequel I have been
waiting on, but it is a well realised piece of entertainment
in its own right and has an enjoyable narrative to accompany