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Manhunt 2
Score: 68%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Games
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Themed/ Stealth/ Survival Horror

Graphics & Sound:
They say that politics makes strange bedfellows. And they also say that even bad publicity is good publicity. I would say with all of the hype centered around a game like Manhunt 2 that the taxpayers' money should have been focused elsewhere. Whoever decided to start this crusade should have been in the same asylum the game takes place. Maybe it hit too close to home for some of them and that is why they are so up in arms. There are far more egregious examples in our game industry to focus on. I guess the politicians just needed a better advertising kickback for hyping up this game.

Though potentially disturbing, the graphics are of such poor quality that there is little to make you think that anyone could ever have associated this with anything more than an old cartoon. The look is as fresh as the first day GTA III came out. I guess they had to reuse the engine somewhere. Scenes of gratuitous violence are the hook and lure of the title. This is what it is, but every violent attack is done in a surrealistic flash of color and abstracts. It is more Clockwork Orange than gratuitous violence.

I am to assume that crappy voiceovers are overlooked when every other word is a curse word. I will have to temper that statement with the fact that the sound effects are well done and timed out well. The foley effects were more immersive and disturbing than anything the overcensored graphics could muster.

In Manhunt 2, you will play the role of Daniel Lamb. Lamb is joined by his friend, Leo Kasper. I will not spoil this with anymore of their relationship. The storyline of the second game has little to do with the first, well except for the fact that you kill people as gruesomely as possible. You wake up in a mental institution just as the inmates are making a break for it. And, of course, you can't remember anything. From there you are led down a rabbit hole of conspiracy and persecution. You are running away from, or maybe towards, the forces of the project. Cut a swatch of death for your pound of flesh out of the corpses of those who stand in your way. Pieces of the mystery will fall into place as you slowly recover your memories through flashbacks.

At its core, Manhunt 2 is a stealth game. Sneak through dark passages and remain as undetected as possible. Use the dark as your cloak, poised to spring death onto the unsuspecting, yet deserving.

Each death is a cinematic assault on the possibly epileptic. Flashing abstract colors and surrealistic scenes of repetitive pixelated death await you. All of this for your viewing pleasure? There are several levels of how severe an attack is based on how patiently you wait behind someone before taking their life.

Manhunt 2 is not a difficult game. The difficulty that does exist is born of unforgiving controls and slow camera reaction. You can increase the difficulty up a notch to Insane, but with controls as bad as these, and it not really improving the game experience at all, why would you? The game takes from other stealth games that have come before it. Way before it. Old issues such as an enemy standing inches from you and not seeing you in areas that are not fully dark abound. You have to have a compass telling you where enemies are because the camera angles and sound are so bad it doesn't help you find them any other way. There is a huge issue not only with the camera speed catching up, but movement itself is difficult and convoluted.

Game Mechanics:
Manhunt 2 is lacking in so many areas that I am having trouble nailing down all of the mechanics. The controls were difficult to master, and forced you to use shoulder buttons to move normally. Again, because they use an old style of stealth mechanics to begin with, they have the same problems with your character coming up from behind and hitting the execute button, but because you have missed this tight and unforgiving area of ability to attack, you are standing behind them but can't kill them as they turn. When you get into a fight after having been discovered, you don't seem to fair much better against your attacker when you have a weapon in your hand. Trust me, however, when facing an aggravated enemy who has a weapon, you will not last too long. The hand to hand seemed worthless as it took you an hour and a half to raise your arm in defense when you hit the button.

The first Manhunt actually had a glimmer of a satirical storyline, so the violence at least felt more justified. After all, you were fighting for your survival. Here, it is a weak storyline with weaker gameplay, and all so Rockstar can rattle a few more cages for publicity. The scenes of violence are so muted and distorted that it is even sometimes hard to figure out exactly what just happened. It was like trying to watch that cable channel you weren't supposed to get. The channel that had all of the fuzzy lines in it. You knew what was happening, and every now and then you got a glimpse of what you were looking for, but still no happy ending.

So my clinical evaluation of this demented patient that was Manhunt 2 is that the game is terminally ill. Just let it die. There is nothing here redeeming to gaming or even shock horror to bring any more attention to than it has already gotten. Call it! 1200hrs.. Flat line.

-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

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