Everyone probably still remembers Postal and its successor Postal 2. Both games were all but good when it cam to gameplay and graphics (not to say they were shit) but they did manage to get on store shelves and receive tons of press attention. Why ? Because there was so much gore in them that selling them was forbidden in many countries. Is Rockstar North going in the same direction with Manhunt or does this game have something more to offer than just gory death scenes ?
Manhunt is like Max Payne of Grand Theft Auto 3 a Third Person Game where violence is the center of attention. You would almost start to believe Rockstar is doing it to shock people. Still, unlike previously mentioned games you need to have a little more patience with Manhunt as next to the violence also stealth is very important here.
The whole idea of the game is pretty simple. You’re James Earl Cash, a criminal who’s gotten a death sentence. Once the verdict has been fulfilled, everything becomes black in front of your eyes. The hero of the story death before the game even starts, it would make a very short game, that’s for sure ;). A couple of hours later you wake up in an empty cold room and a voice in your head tells you you’ve gotten another chance from him. This voice is the Director. A sick mind who – for his own pleasure – has hired a bunch of hoodlums with only one goal: kill Cash.
The only way to get your freedom back is to fight your way through the hired assassins, called Hunters. The way you give these guys a one-way trip to heaven (or hell) is rude to say the least. Each weapon has three execution styles and when I say that there’s around 20 weapons in the game you can just imagine why Manhunt will not be on store shelves in certain places.
You need kill a lot but kill in style. When walking behind a hunter, a cursor around his head will start to form and the longer you wait, the more gruesome the attack will be. You’ll often see a neck break or a head flying around from the director’s view. This of course accompanied with the necessary blood, if applicable…
The stealth aspect can be compared somewhat with the Hitman games or Splinter Cell. You wait in a dark corner to strike at the right time. To keep an eye on your opponents you’ve got some sort of radar that tracks the movement and alertness of the Hunters with arrows. A yellow arrow shows a Hunter that’s hardly awake, orange means he’s at his guard and when it flashes red it means he knows you’re there and looking for you. The main difference in stealth between aforementioned games and this one is that with the others it remains interesting while in Rockstar’s latest it gets boring pretty quickly.
The city you wander around has been portrayed perfectly. I’m not talking directly on the quality of the graphics but on the atmosphere created by Rockstar. Crazy colors, dirt all over the plac, graffiti on the walls, abandoned houses, … it all adds to the gruesome atmosphere of the game. Also the sound which consists mostly of cries from other people and nervous music bring you in a perfect mood for horror.
If you’ve got a lot of patience and feel like playing a creepy game, then Manhunt will probably be your thing. When looking more for a stealth game a la Hitman or Splinter Cell, don’t bother. Manhunt doesn’t really convince and doesn’t rise above average.