|System: Wii, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Rockstar Toronto||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Rockstar||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 29, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
The original Manhunt was a controversial game that pushed the limits of violence in videogames. Banned from a number of countries, Manhunt was Rockstar's foray into a game made around creating gruesome violence. Although the game was generally well received by game critics, it was predictably vilified by groups that deemed its violence and themes as gratuitous and harmful to gamers. Rockstar, however, is never known for playing it safe, so despite all the controversy of the original, gamers can expect the sequel to arrive later this year. Looking at early footage, it should be just as violent as the original and maybe even a smidgen more.
Manhunt 2 isn't a direct sequel, as both James Earl Cash and Starkweather "The Director" are nowhere to be seen. This new iteration revolves around a scientist, Dr. Daniel Lamb. Lamb isn't as strong or as ruthless as Cash was, which should provide a very different gaming experience as Lamb actually abhors the violence that he is forced to commit. Prior to the events of the game, Lamb had volunteered to be a test subject in an experiment with neurological weaponry. However, the experiment goes awry and Lamb becomes psychotic and paranoid, which results in him being committed to Dixmore Hospital for the Criminally Insane, separating him indefinitely from his wife. The events of the experiment are also swept under the rug and Dr. Pickman, Lamb's superior in the project, abandons and disavows Lamb and the project. Years later, an electrical storm shorts the security system, allowing Dr. Lamb to escape from his cell and attempt to rebuild the broken pieces of his life.
As stated before, Dr. Lamb isn't a violent man by nature. He actually gets sick and vomits the first time that he has to kill to survive. However, an unstable cellmate and fellow failed test subject Leo Kasper is freed along with Lamb and helps him to escape, likely encouraging and coaching Lamb in his killing spree.
Much like the original, the game focuses on stealth tactics to overwhelm and kill any foes standing in your way. You're not killing for the sick pleasure of the Director this time around, as you're actually killing for revenge and for the restoration of your life and sanity, if at all possible. There will also probably be a lot of focus on the psychological elements of gameplay too, such as the paranoia and psychosis of the protagonist and the fact that he doesn't know if his remembered life is a memory or a fantasy.
Like most stealth games, Lamb will have to stick to the shadows to get through most areas, and a meter tells the player just how efficiently hidden Lamb is from any potential whistleblowers. After sneaking behind them, Lamb can perform one of three levels of executions. Like the previous Manhunt, the longer you take to set up your kill, the more gruesome the murder. In addition to using various weapons, Lamb is also now able to execute different environmental kills, such as shoving an opponent into a live fuse box or strangling them with a telephone cord. There are also some one use weapons, such as syringes and pens, that you can use on an unsuspecting enemy.
Another new addition to the series is the ability to mask your sounds. If an NPC is making a sound, you can use that to hide any noise that you might make. For example, an NPC inmate screaming incoherently in the background would keep the guards from hearing you smash a window and sneak by. Lamb can also move through vents and climb ladders, opening up exploration and adding a verticality that wasn't really present in the original Manhunt. Also, if an enemy comes near Lamb when he's hiding, there is a button press minigames, similar to the dancing minigames in San Andreas, in which the player must regulate Lamb's breathing to keep him hidden.
The graphics at this stage are decent, but aren't stunning. Since the game is being made for the Wii and the PlayStation 2, the visuals look very last gen, although there is a high level of detail in the character models and in the environments.
If all goes according to plan, Manhunt 2 could be a game to look for this summer if you have a strong enough stomach. With a unique story that might be a mix of the psychological thrills of Silent Hill and The Suffering and more of what made Manhunt such a guilty pleasure, Manhunt 2 will definitely be on the radar of gamers and censors alike.
CCC Freelance Writer