Manhunt

Review

posted 5/10/2004 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
Charlie and John have already covered the PS2 and Xbox versions of Manhunt (which you can find here and here) so I won’t cover all of the details of the game. For those of you too lazy to click over, you play James Earl Cash. Mr. Cash is about to be executed when he is “saved” by the mysterious Starkweather. Starkweather isn’t exactly altruistic, though as he forces Cash to participate in a “Running Man”-esq type situation where you have to fight your way through various colorful gangs in order to save your own life. All the while, Starkweather is watching and filming you dispatch the gang members. Rather than dispatching your enemies GTA style, you are forced to sneak around and take them out with a variety of interesting weapons.

Rockstar has done an excellent job of porting the games over to the PC as of late. There were some rough edges around the Grand Theft Auto 3 port but Rockstar more than made up for it with a great GTA3: Vice City port. I’m happy to say that the port of Manhunt continues the trend from Vice City. The game runs and looks great and the only bug I had was a small problem with my dual monitor where the game would occasionaly minimize itself but Rockstar is aware of and will be fixing in an upcoming patch. If you are running dual monitors with a Radeon 9800, you might want to disable your second monitor before playing the game.

As you would expect, the game is a lot easier to control with the mouse and keyboard. The game utilizes the standard WASD setup to move, while the mouse is used to aim and attack. If you have a mousewheel, you can use it to move through your weapons inventory (you can use the tab key as well, holding down the tab button switches weapons). The Q and E buttons can be used to peek around corners while the spacebar and Enter buttons act as the use keys while the Shift and Control keys are used to sprint/sneak respectively. The control scheme works well and most PC users will feel at home with it. Mouse aiming certainly makes using the ranged weapons a lot easier.

The game looks terrific and PC users will certainly enjoy the higher resolution graphics. I was able to run the game without at hitch at 1600 X 1200 (on a P4 2.6, 1 GB of RAM, and a Radeon 9800 Pro). The visual style of the game really comes through with the higher resolution but the game really doesn’t have a ton of visual variety (it takes place exclusively at night).

Sound-wise the game is rock solid. The music is especially good and really helps to set and maintain the mood. The music does occasionally drown out some of the other sounds in the game (specifically the taunts of the hunters) but that’s something that you can adjust if you want to. The in game sounds are solid and given the importance of sound in the game.

There were a few things that didn’t make the port from the consoles. The biggest was the headphone/microphone support. On the console versions, Starkweather would talk to you through the headphones on either platform (the rest of the audio came from the TV). The other benefit of the headphone/microphone support is that you can use the microphone as an additional lure in the game (lures are used to pull the hunters into dark areas of the game where they can be easily dispatched). It would have been nice to have some microphone support in the game (See 2004, Unreal Tournament) as this can be really helpful. Instead, you’re forced to bang on the walls as a substitute which is kind of a downer.

Another small problem is when they ported the game Rockstar did not update any of the instructional menus early on in the game. So instead of telling you to press Mousebutton 2 to aim at bad guys, you’re stuck with Action Button 2. I know it’s a pithy little detail but it would have made the game a little easier to play. The only good thing is it gives you an excuse to keep the excellent manual open during the first few levels of the game. Rockstar deserves props for putting together such a solid manual that helps pull you into the game.

Manhunt certainly isn’t any easier on the PC and you’ll end up playing some sections over and over again (and suffering through some of the same cut-scenes over and over again). The sadism is intense and the game tends to linger with you for a while. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing but Rockstar has certainly created a game which will push your buttons. If you are a PC gamer and this sounds like something you want to experience, then you will want to pick up this excellent port.




B
A great port of a solid but not fantastic game. Manhunt isn’t a game for everyone, though and it certainly earns its “M” rating