Friday, December 30, 2011

Review: Manhunt 2

Manhunt 2 is somewhat famous, maybe not for it's story but rather for the attention it got from the media. Due to the violent turn of the first game in the series, Rockstar had to cut the violence down to a minimum in Manhunt 2 so they would be able to get an M- rating. Still, the game series has a pretty bad reputation even today. I myself never been one for these sort of violent games but still decided to give Manhunt 2 the chance it deserved.

  • Manhunt 2
  • Developed and Published by Rockstar Games
  • Reviewed on PS2 - Available on PC, Wii, PS2 and PSP
  • PEGI: 18 / ESRB: M (PC: AO)
  • Reviewed by: Anna Råberg

The game jumps to action immediately. After a brief cutscene in which we see a mental institution suffering a power breakdown during a storm, we're introduced to our main character, Daniel “Danny” Lamb. Apparently he's suffering from some sort of amnesia and is determined to find out who he is and what life he might have left behind. As the story unfolds, Danny realizes he have more than one skeleton in the closet and that not all people from his past might be allies today. Manhunt 2 has, despite what people might think when starting this title up, a really good story. It's well thought trough and even tough it's a little bit of a cliché it gives you a higher purpose than simply “Mash your way out of here”.

The plot line is pretty straight forwards throughout the chapters but it can seem bland at times.
There's not many characters for this game, if one doesn't count the “hunters” to all be individuals. There's our, more than mildly confused, Danny and his partner Leo. Two characters that feels well developed and even likeable at times. There's also some supportive characters from Danny past, like Judy and Michael. Sadly these characters are more plot devices than they are persons and I found them to be dull most of the time. Even with the tight situation that Danny's in, it just doesn't feel natural for these people to throw the story in your face.

The game suffers when it comes to controls. As usual, you move Danny with the left control stick. With the right you can slightly tilt the camera to the left or right. The face buttons are used for commands such as; attack, tap walls, run and interact with objects. What could have helped Manhunt 2 would have been to give us a good camera. The one we've given is so limited I found myself stuck in a corner, not being able to turn without being seen by the enemy but I were also not able to attack or target him due to him not being within the line of sight. Otherwise the controls work pretty well.

The combat system variates. Sometimes it's working and runs smoothly and other times Danny simply stands there, even tough you hit the “attack” button; simply waiting for the nearest enemy to help him kick the bucket. Otherwise the system is so simple it's almost scary. You just hold L1 to target your enemy and then tap the square to hit them. If you want to perform an execution you have to sneak up behind an enemy that's not alerted and either hit the square or R1. It's really silly simple. Even tough Manhunt 2 is oriented on stealth you can, on easier difficulties, simply smash your way throughout the chapters without getting into a fight with the combat system.

One thing that should get a special mention is the executions. This is one of the reasons that Manhunt 2 got so much negative attention. These are special moves that lets you take out your opponent in one switch move. They're divided into “weapon executions” and “environmental executions”. The “weapon executions” also have three levels in the way they're performed; there's hasty, violent and gruesome. Depending on how long you hold the R1 button, Danny will perform the execution in a different matter, more violent and bloody the longer you hold. This is a really good system in the game. It makes the player go for the stealth way as it's a much safer way to take out enemies and therefore it makes the gameplay feels better.

Manhunt 2's graphics are horrible. The models are big and clumsy, the faces are horrifying to look upon. I can't even say that the environments are impressive as it mostly consists of grey plain walls. I can't really find anything that I thought looked good. There's not much music in Manhunt 2. It's a pretty silent game and as a stealth game, I think that's a pretty good move. There are some music I can remember from the Chapter Sexual Deviants that were just plain out awful to the point where I wanted to shove spikes trough my ears. Manhunt 2 doesn't have anything impressive when it comes to replay value. When you finish the game you unlock a new stage and a mode that let's you select a chapter, without having to play trough the whole game and that's about it. It might be fun if you really enjoyed a special part of the game and would like to see it again but otherwise it brings very little to the game.

There's no way one can deny that Manhunt 2 have some issues. It has a troublesome camera, confusing controls, eye piercing graphics and low replay value. Still there's a good and deep story in it and some really interesting executions. Fans of Manhunt might not find this as straight forward as its ancestor but for those who enjoys psychological games this is a must.

Final Evaluation:
6.5/10 - A Decent Game

Anna Råberg played Manhunt 2 for about 10 Hours.

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