posted 1/15/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
Character design is another aspect where the game takes a downward turn for the worst. I’m not sure about you but when I think of murderous gangsters images of the Insane Clown Posse don’t exactly rush to my mind. Most of the enemies in the game look like ICP rejects and it really ruins the atmosphere for me. I understand how a murderer in a smiley face mask could be a bit unsettling but I don’t buy the whole BDSM scene thing, especially when our protagonist looks like your garden-variety thug. It’s all very offsetting and detracts heavily from the game’s realistic and gritty atmosphere.

Since the game takes place in the span of one night all of the levels are shrouded with the cloak of darkness. This adds to the game’s already grainy and gritty look by allowing you to skulk along the shadows and darkness of the city. With a game like Max Payne underneath its belt, the guys at Rockstar live and breathe grit. So it’s no coincidence that Manhunt features some of the most lifelike slums that you could possibly find on the face of this Earth. Nothing about the game is particularly beautiful nor is anything peculiarly eye catching, but the darkness lends credence to the game’s already creepy atmosphere. Some of the textures could have been better but for the most part the game looks pretty good. I would have liked to see some more time dedicated to the game’s vehicles and some of the objects, but what’s here is definitely serviceable.

Cash actually looks pretty good too, especially his movements and animations. In a really nice touch all of the weapons that you pick up are displayed somewhere on your body. So if you’re carrying a bat and you’re using the glass shard you’ll see Cash put the bat on his belt for later use. His movements have been captured quite nicely and he always moves and behaves in a very realistic fashion. There are times when his movements are un-natural, like when he’s going up and down stairs, but for the most part his actions look pretty good. His actual model is pretty nice too and is a major step up from the models in Rockstar’s last game, Grand Theft Auto Vice City. His face features some nice details and the actual model is pretty beefy and appealing.

Where the visuals really excel is in the game’s highly stylized look. From time-to-time the game will shift to a shaky cam viewpoint to simulate the look and feel of a video that’s shot from a handheld camcorder. It’s here where you’ll see plenty of nice touches that you’d expect to see from a low-budget film. You’ll get lines that run across the screen, specks of dust on the print and some really low quality video. In this respect the game actually benefits from its low budget look because it helps add to the game’s already gritty and dark theme.

Audio is another strong point as the aural engineers did an excellent job with the ambient audio elements. Although the game doesn’t quite utilize the rear speakers as much as I had hoped it still did a good enough job of engulfing me in the atmosphere. As a nice little bonus anyone who has a USB headset can hook it up with the game and use it to receive instructions and to make noise for luring enemies. Some of the catcalls that the hunters use to insult you with are pretty lame and get repetitive fairly quickly though.

If you’re in the mood for a niche stealth title then go ahead and pick up Manhunt. I wouldn’t say that it’s the best game out there, especially for little children who aren’t ready for this type of imagery, but it’s pretty entertaining if your stomach can handle it.

Taking a cue from games espionage games such as Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid 2, Rockstar has effectively taken the stealth formula out of its designated confines to produce a highly entertaining, albeit niche audienced, stealth-based game that makes Grand Theft Auto look tame in comparison.

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