Halloween, the creepiest time of year. What better time to release one of the more seedier games in life? For all you squeamish individuals out there, please do turn away, this game is not for you. For those of you who have ever watched a horror film, I think you will be fine.
Yes, Manhunt 2 is violent. Yes, it should only be played by adults. Yes, you brutally kill people with items like baseball bats, shards of glass, and pens. That's correct, in this second installment, our main character, Daniel Lamb, can be seen wielding a ferocious ball point pen. While this may seem tame, this pen is deadly, especially when stabbed into a foe's face five or six times. These "execution" sequences are shown in a short cut scene. These "scenes" can hardly be seen because of flashing lights, inverted colors, and other attempts to mask the true violence of the situation. If I know Rockstar, this was an attempt to please the censors. The executions show just enough to get the feel for the action, any real details are obscured by a well placed flash of light or camera shake. The first Manhunt held nothing back when showing executions and so this sequel takes a step back in this department. Other than this qualm, the graphics are good. They are in no way as beautiful as some games when compared to the new games Xbox 360 and PS3, but the cartoonish feel of the game works in a demented way. There are plenty of corpses, trash, and even creepy flashbacks to keep you enthralled as you attempt to escape the deadly clutches of countless enemies.
The AI in this game is... how should I put it? Special
. Several times, I watched from my shadowy perch as an enemy bumped into a closed door for a good minute. A nice added feature for this game is that when an enemy is staring into the shadows in which you are hiding, you are prompted to press a certain button in order to remain still and not get caught and hacked to pieces. This makes the game feel a little more real because if the enemies look hard enough, they may actually find you in the shadows.
The sound in the game is excellent, lots of ambient noises to raise the hairs on the back of your neck and plenty of cursing to raise the hairs on your mother's neck. The dialog is well performed and people portray their emotions excellently. Scared sounds scared, deranged sounds deranged, ball gag sounds like a ball gag. Your partner in crime can be heard, coaxing you on, begging you to murder everyone in your path.
The controls of the first Manhunt were less than perfect and Manhunt 2 manages to make them even less user friendly. The left analog stick moves Lamb around while the right stick leans him left or right. The camera is fixed behind lamb and is very frustrating when it will not move to see where an enemy is approaching from. In this day and age where every game (except Manhunt) has a fully movable camera, not implementing this feature seems like a fundamental mistake on Rockstar's part. The only excuse I can think of is that the developers didn't want full perspective control so as to simulate the reality of hiding and not always being able to see around corners. This is stupid and so I refuse to believe it. The controls are infuriating, it's as simple as that.
The story is interesting, strange, disturbing, far fetched. If you need a reason to kill hundreds of people, it gets the job done.
Other than the horrible controls, mentally challenged AI, and Big Brother blocking the action sequences, this game is mighty fun and well worth the paltry sum of $30 (American). Some things have improved since the last game and others have had a de-evolution. This game will not be for everyone, it takes a certain kind to enjoy the plot, action, and suspense (while remaining on the sane side of mental health). After playing for a while, I had zero urge to recreate the things I had just played. If anything this game made me want to see happy things after playing. A good round of cute kittens and babies laughing and I'll be back to the snuff action. But I must warn you, babies, stay away, this is no Super Mario Bros.