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Manhunt 2 (PSP) impressions

Posted by: Chuck at 10/30/2007 10:59 AM
Editors note: These are from Cyril:

After all of the ESRB controversy and the three month delay, I have to admit that I'm definitely interest in seeing just what Rockstar Games' newest sequel is all about. I probably should come clean right at the start; I actually enjoyed the first game when it was released four years ago. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't put it in the same class as Grand Theft Auto III, The Warriors or Bully, but as a game based on gritty horror games I felt that it succeeded. I did worry that this sequel would be more of the same, but then again it's been four years since I went through the first game so maybe it doesn't matter if the sequel doesn't add much to the formula.

While John and Chuck are busy playing the console versions, I'm stuck with the PSP port of Manhunt 2. Not that that's a bad thing, I enjoy playing my PSP and it gives me the opportunity to find the darkest room in the house and cozy up in the corner with my headphones on. I'm still not sure if the horror genre works well on a portable game system, but I'm willing to give Manhunt 2 the benefit of the doubt for now. Unfortunately I have only played through the first level (Awakening) ... but hey, these are my early impressions, it's not like you should expect me to have already beaten the game.

The game starts out with what looks like a prison break, only that we're at the Dixmor Hospital for the Criminally Insane. After a short introduction (which sounds like it was written entirely out of four-letter words), I am introduced to Daniel Lamb, our "hero" for this adventure. With all the chaos and confusion surrounding him, Daniel sees the perfect opportunity to break out and free himself of this insane asylum. Well, that's not exactly true, it takes a friendly face to prop him to get moving and fight his way out of the hospital. Even though the "friend" runs ahead, Daniel can still hear him as clear as day telling him what to do and who to kill. It's almost as if Daniel's friend isn't real, but instead a figment of our crazy hero's imagination (I don't know this for a fact, but I'm willing to put money on this twist).

The early parts of the game are set up so that you can practice your hiding, fighting and killing. Much like the first game, your object seems to be to move from one shadowy area to another sneaking behind other people and killing them with whatever object you have picked up. You do this exactly like you did in the first game, you just walk up behind them and hold down the "Square" button until the little arrows have turned from white to yellow to red. You can kill them at any time, but if you hold it down longer you will get the more gruesome death sequence.

Not that it matters much how gruesome the kill is, to get the M rating Rockstar Games has gone in and added weird effects to each of the death sequences. You can kind of make out what's going on, but it's fuzzy enough to mask the most disturbing parts. This is kind of a letdown, but I'll leave feelings about the "censorship" issue alone until I review the full product.

The good news is that the controls are solid, even with the lack of a second analog stick. In the first game you could look around all you wanted, but in this game you are limited to only looking around in the first-person perspective (which you can access by pushing up on the D-Pad). The game's pace is definitely slow, and that makes sense given that this is basically a stealth game with a shocking amount of senseless murders. Also good is the atmosphere, which features some cool lighting effects and a lot of voice acting that will get you in the mood. I'm definitely excited to see where the game actually takes us, especially since there is a strong set-up that could go just about anywhere.

Overall I'm impressed with this PSP version of Manhunt 2. That's not to say that it's the most revolutionary game of the year or anything, but so far it's been a nice and scary game that will fit in perfectly with Halloween. I still have a long path ahead of me, but these are my early impressions of Rockstar Games' newest game. Expect a more thorough look at the game when I post my full review of Manhunt 2 for the Sony PSP.