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Manhunt 2 (PlayStation 2) artwork

Manhunt 2 (PlayStation 2) review

"It would be inaccurate to call Manhunt 2 a true sequel to the original ultra violent and ultra gory Manhunt, because even though the latest game carries the same name it tells a whole different story with a completely different character. Developed by Rockstar London Manhunt 2 takes the violence, gore and profanity that the developers are famous for to a whole new intense level and makes sure it stays there. "

It would be inaccurate to call Manhunt 2 a true sequel to the original ultra violent and ultra gory Manhunt, because even though the latest game carries the same name it tells a whole different story with a completely different character. Developed by Rockstar London Manhunt 2 takes the violence, gore and profanity that the developers are famous for to a whole new intense level and makes sure it stays there.

In the game you play the role of Daniel Lamb, more commonly referred to as Danny. A prisoner in a mental asylum of sorts and unable to remember his past, he decides to escape from the asylum and find out the truth about himself and more importantly his past. But to get to the answers that he is seeking, Danny will have to go through The Project; the organization responsible for messing up Danny's mind.

If you have played Manhunt 1 then you feel right at home with Manhunt 2, but if you have not played the original you will find this game to be unlike anything Rockstar has produced so far and you can rest assured that this game is in no way a Grand Theft Auto (GTA) clone.

Manhunt 2 is a third person stealth action adventure. The game is divided into several levels with each level requiring you to complete certain objectives like burning records, finding an exit and taking care of all the enemies etc before moving on to the next level. Each level is also filled with The Project's henchmen whom you will have to deal with en route to your objectives.

In each level you will find four different kinds of weapons. You will find glass shards, syringes and polythene bags etc which are good for just one kill. These weapons disappear after you have used them for killing an enemy. Next you have bricks, bottles and rocks etc which are used to distract guards and lure them near you so that you can deal with them appropriately. Then you have crowbars, saws and electric sticks etc which can be used repeatedly to kill enemies. And finally, axes and pliers etc can also be used again and again, plus these big weapons can also be used to perform instant kills. You can only carry one weapon from the four categories and each weapon has a different color in the inventory screen, allowing you to identify the purpose of each weapon type.

The safest and the best way to deal with your enemies is by performing stealth kills or what the game like to call ‘executions'. By approaching an unaware enemy from behind you will see a reticle appear on the enemy. Initially, the reticle is white colored but, if you press and hold the square or R1 button (on the default controller configuration) the reticle changes color to yellow and then finally to red. Each color represents varying degrees of brutality of the execution. White color is for hasty, yellow is for violent and red is for gruesome executions with the gruesome execution being the sickest of them all. Once you initiate an execution you will get to see a very violent and gruesome pre-rendered cutscene in which Danny will automatically deal with the enemy. Each weapon has three different cutscenes for the three different executions that you can perform on the enemies so when it comes to gore and bloodshed this game does not lack variety.

A type of execution which was not present in the original game is Environmental Execution. In most of the stages there are certain props or objects that you can use to your advantage and kill your opponents without having to use your own weapons. Each environmental execution has its' original cutscene (no surprise there). Some environmental execution objects such as fire extinguishers and electric circuits etc can only be used once whereas running machinery can be used to execute enemies as many times as you like. In some areas you will be able create environmental execution spots at your own will. For example, in one stage you have a gasoline tank with you which you can use to pour gasoline at any place you like, then lure an enemy into the pool of fuel and set the poor fellow on fire. And in one stage you can switch on the grinding machines to make them into environmental execution aids.

Besides having melee weapons you will also get to use a decent arsenal of guns in the game. Guns are also divided into two categories. The small guns category includes handguns and Uzi type machine guns and the big guns category includes shotguns, automatic rifles, sniper rifles and crossbows. Guns can also be used to perform execution if you are close enough to an unaware enemy. No matter what kind of weapon you are carrying you will automatically lock on to the nearest enemy GTA: San Andreas style which makes it easier to deal with your enemies. The auto lock on feature makes killing enemies with your guns more fun because you can pop in and out of cover and deal with a gang of them in no time.

Graphically, Manhunt 2 is quite ugly if you compare it to other great looking third person action adventure games such as Resident Evil 4 and God of War II. The graphics of this game are more disappointing because both the games mentioned above i.e. Resident Evil 4 and God of War II were released much before this game thus proving that it was and is still possible to make great looking games on the ageing and now last-generation PS2 hardware. The characters in the game aren't very detailed and sometimes their lips don't move in sync with the dialogue being spoken. Plus the running style of the characters is simply laughable. During the course of the game you will visit different locales such as a dock, rooftops, a TV studio and much more but none of the places that you visit look good or impressive. You will face the same looking goons and thugs in each level with the only difference being the kind of mask that they have on their face. In stages where you encounter maskless goons you will notice each enemy having the same face again and again. The executions which are supposed to be the best part of the game sadly look pathetic. You will see weapons not connecting properly with the enemy's body or blood gushing out from the wrong place. It seems as if the developers were only interested in adding as much gore as was possible without caring about how it looked. It's a shame really to see such poor quality graphics and it feels like you're playing through a GTA game. One good effect to be found in the game is that weapons and pills (used to restore health) constantly flicker as if to give the impression that they don't exist and are only a figment of the imagination of our mentally unstable hero. Another effect which looks nice is that the screen also constantly flickers (only lightly) to give you the impression that something weird is going on in the game.

The audio of the game is also nothing but average. You will hear your enemies repeat the same phrases again and again in each stage and although some phrases are intended to add cruel humor to the game, it just doesn't work. One particular phrase ‘Damn you communist, go back to France' feels sorely out of place and cheap. The voice acting during the cutscenes is ok. The best part of the audio is the guns which sound just as they should.

The enemy AI behavior is also quite unstable with enemies sometimes not reacting to the distraction that you are trying to create. Other times you will see them constantly shooting at walls, doors and other obstacles for no reason whatsoever. Even if they spot you, they hit less and miss more. The AI also at times has trouble navigating through the environment and you will see them collide into each other and keep colliding or walk into a wall and keep walking into it as if the wall was not there at all.

Manhunt 2 isn't really a great game when compared to other games in the genre or its' predecessor. Still, if you would like to see how far Rockstar can go when it comes to violence in games or if you are looking for an action game that allows you kill your enemies in multiple sickening ways then give this game a try.

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Community review by blood-omen (November 15, 2007)

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