Pardon me as I rage against the game that countless politicians argued over and wasted my tax dollars on. Manhunt 2 is hardly worth the time and effort spent in debates over the questionable content in this game. In fact this is one of the worst games I’ve played all year. It’s got a terribly clichéd story, awful controls, and graphics that are barely passable for a PS2 game. This game plays that obscene level of violence card to the very end, and it does nothing to help salvage the terrible game play that takes the worst stealth action formula and does everything it can to muck it up even further. I would say stop reading here, but I’m still angry and I feel the need to share it with you. At the very least you could feel grateful that you didn’t have to play this piece of crap.
Manhunt 2 starts things off with a bland story about Daniel Lamb who has escaped from an insane asylum after being experimented on by the Pickman Project. He’s on the run with his ‘friend’ Leo who follows him around and barks orders telling him he’s got to survive and kill everyone that comes after them. Along the way you find out why Danny’s in the state he’s in and the game always feels like it’s underachieving in the story. This isn’t helped by the fact that subtitles are hard to read, although I’d say at least forty percent of the dialogue is F-bombs. The game makes no attempt to be clever or poignant; it’s just in your face swearing and violence and that’s really about it for story. There is an interesting little bonus chapter at the end but it really doesn’t help make things any easier to swallow.
Manhunt 2 is a hideous looking game. It’s 2007 and considering everything else that has come out this year on the PS2, Manhunt looks amazingly pedestrian. I honestly think the original Manhunt was a better looking game. Character models are blocky circa Grand Theft Auto 3 and look quite ugly, and this isn’t helped by the fact that some of them are wearing bondage gear. All the environments are flat, murky, and dank; none of those are meant to be taken as complements by the way. The whole hook of this game is the disturbing and messed up executions that you can perform on enemies. And in an effort to get that AO rating down to an M Rockstar decided to add crazy psychedelic filters over the events as they play out, but they don’t really prevent you from seeing what is happening. I still see that I’m taking a plastic bag, wrapping it around a guy’s head and then proceeding to pound his face until he’s been pushed off this mortal coil. So I mean, if you’ve come in to this expecting to see some nasty adult levels of violence then you’ve come to the right place. But it’s so ridiculously over the top that it’s not even entertaining. I find it hard to believe myself but it feels like the cinematic kills just detach you from the game.
Audio is still a fairly strong aspect of Manhunt 2, and it’s the one thing that works really well. But it’s not improved over the original title it’s just more of the same. Basically everything you do aside from sneaking makes a noise, which gives a visual response on the player’s radar. Enemies within range will then close in to try and find the source of the sound. Like any stealth action game that’s your chance to strike and make off with stealth kills. If you’re really slick you can play the game with a headset, anything you say during the game will impact the game and will draw attention to you. Unlike the first game though there is no practical use to this. In Manhunt you used it to communicate with the guy that was recording your kills, in Manhunt 2 there is no real reason to do this.
Controls in Manhunt 2 are also truly ridiculous in their failure. You have a limited amount of camera control which makes you rely more often than not on the radar to find your enemies. But it’s terribly aggravating to not be able to see around a corner easily when an enemy is waiting to fill you with bullets. There is no way to quickly sneak up on someone, which means you have to stalk your prey but that just leaves you with your back turned. I would like to think I could be able to move quickly in a crouched position. Combat is terrible as well. Basically if you’ve got more than one enemy after you, you need to run. Combat against enemies is a mash-fest, and it boils down to whomever gets the first will be the winner. And if you get a weapon then you’ve got a leg up on your enemies. Eventually stealth goes out the window and guns are the way to go. You can score some nasty head shots that actually hollow out the enemy’s head, but the hit box to do this is really small.
Enemy AI is also very poor. Simply put, once you are spotted, ditch the enemies and get in to a dark area. Unless baddies see you walk into a shaded area, they will not pursue, and even if they do spot you, the game turns to a twitch button press mechanic to keep yourself hidden. If anything this should have allowed the user the chance to perform a sneak attack or immediate kill, rather than wait for the enemy to turn their back and expose themselves for a gruesome death. And should they discover a fallen comrade’s body, they’ll become more active in their search. Put a gun in their hand, and they’ll plant their feet to take shots at you, never mind the fact that going for cover is kind of a necessity in case I were to have a gun of my own.
Manhunt 2 does nothing for the games industry. It’s just another game that drums up a ton of free press for Take Two, and it’s going to result in sales, and a lot more in resale. Grow up Take Two, you’re making this industry the poster child for a lot of wrongs in society. If you’ve got kids that are interested in a game like this then do everyone a favor and pass on it, it’s a terrible torture porn game that is no different than SAW or Hostel, well actually I take that back, those movies aren’t half bad. Again, steer clear of this game; it’s a joke, and not a very good one. I’m still mad that tax payer money was wasted arguing about this game.
Between the poor plot, AI, and graphics it is amazing how such a crummy game garnered such a storm of controversy.
Rating: 4 Heavily Flawed
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I recently cleared the 10 year club with Gaming Nexus. Kind of surprised I've been a mainstay here for a little over a decade now.
In a past life I worked with Interplay, EA, Harmonix, Konami, and a number of other developers and have recently returned from a job in Texas doing production work for a company that did cell phone games. Now I'm working for a record label, along with Gaming Nexus, and anywhere else that sees fit to employ me.