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Manhunt 2 Preview
publisher: Rockstar Games
developer: Rockstar Games
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Oct 29, 07
|» All About Manhunt 2 on ActionTrip|
While 2lions was playing Manhunt back in 2004, I couldn't help but feel nauseous. Read our review of the PC version to understand why. Apart from featuring excessive violence and truly gruesome scenes, Manhunt, logically, ended up being a big no-no for younger gamers (or more mature gamers with a weaker digestive system). So, while Jack Thompson is rubbing his crystal ball in the hope of glimpsing Rockstar's demise in the future, the well-known developer is just getting warmed up and is preparing to hit market with the long-awaited continuation in the GTA series (GTA IV) and the first sequel to its gorish action game, Manhunt.
Now this is what I call, the subtle approach.
Maybe I could ask this guy for some meds. Psst! Sir?
To this day, it remains debatable whether the original Manhunt ever had any true value. Regardless, it did achieve a certain rank among gamers and critics. In essence, though, Manhunt revolved around way too much senseless gore and violence without any obvious purpose - beyond the mere instinct to knock someone out with a baseball bat or to strangle him with a plastic bag. Will Rockstar make things different this time around? Well, let's find out.
The first thing you should be aware of is that Rockstar North, a studio which is presently occupied with another project, won't be involved with this game. Instead, the development process of Manhunt 2 was left in the hands of newly formed branch, Rockstar London. On the other hand, key individuals from Rockstar North, who were responsible for coming up with the unconventional ambiance of the previous game, will be there to advise the team.
In Manhunt 2 the story introduces us to a talented youthful doctor, named Daniel Lam. With a promising job and a loving family by his side, Daniel was looking forward to a rather prosperous and cushy future. The 'slight' hitch was that Daniel's position involved intense work on a privately financed neurological weapons project, codenamed the Pickman Project (which carried the name of the doctor heading the venture). In a most unexpected turn of events, all project funds were pulled, but that wasn't enough to stop Dr. Pickman, so he decided to continue the research. Foolishly, Daniel opts to support this effort and in a blatantly foolish move offers himself as a test subject. It wasn't long before Daniel got sent to a mental facility, called the Dixmore Asylum - home to the criminally insane.
The game actually kicks off six years after Daniel's arrival to the asylum, which incidentally, remained the primary location for dumping human guinea pigs who were part of the Pickman Project (like himself). Spending six years in a shithole like Dixmore Asylum didn't do Daniel much good. He started questioning his past and began to wonder if his family ever existed. One night, out of the blue, a powerful storm causes a blackout in the asylum, letting most of the prisoners loose. Finally, we arrive to the moment where players take matters into their own hands. Your job will be to help Daniel find out more about his past, but given the circumstances, that will hardly be a picnic. As you progress, more and more will become clear about your character as well as the real truth behind the Pickman Project.
Those familiar with the old Manhunt formula should feel right at home. Next to the usual sneaking around and walloping someone over the head with a wrench, you also get to blast your way through. The camera boasts a standard over-the-shoulder viewpoint, while the main character gets to use a wide variety of weapons to help him survive. At the beginning, you'll be using simple things, like pencils or broken glass, to hit someone in the face, while later on, the door opens to additional items such as baseball bats, shotguns and the like. Although you may get to use a range of pretty deadly weapons, most of the time it will be advisable to stick to less aggressive methods. Just snatch a syringe, sneak up and stab your poor victim in the neck.
All this is peanuts when compared to some of the things that await later on. Even though Rockstar appears to be trying to lower the level of gore in some aspects, the trademark controversy is pretty much still there. Still, Daniel isn't a violent man at heart. Throughout most of the game he'll try to avoid violence as much as he can. Then again, if he really gets pissed off, he can grab a pair of pliers to pull out a hefty chunk of meat from a nearby guard.
Unlike the previous game, Manhunt 2 now puts forth a cool new addition. When executing kills, you may rely more on the environment. For instance, an indicator pops up, informing the player that a certain item, which could prove as a useful weapon, is located close by. But even with all the elaborate execution moves and diverse objects that can be put to 'good' use, Manhunt 2 will largely focus on a more stealth-flavored gameplay. In that respect, when sneaking up on enemies, you're gonna want to stick to shadowy areas. It's also possible to make the surroundings darker by shooting out light bulbs (a touch of Splinter Cell thrown in, obviously).
Relax. This won't take a minute.
Cough up the cheats for this game or I blow your brains out!
Visuals might be a tad behind the times with this game, seeing as it's not being geared towards next-gen hardware. Even so, the visual style doesn't seem to go amiss and rings true to the old game, with a few improvements in the lighting effects department. As far as the audio goes, the idea is to keep up with the overall quality of the original. I think I can still hear some of the gruesomely realistic sounds from the first game, echoing in my mind (I have 2lions to thank for that).
Now, with all that in mind, and assuming you're keen on playing the game, then prepare yourself for the bad news. Rockstar London is working on three editions only - the PS2, Wii and PSP versions. Although this may be good news to some of you, I'm sure a majority of gamers will want to see this one on the PC, X360 and PS3. Sadly, no word was given about potential ports at this time.
In a nutshell, what players can look forward to is a mix of two different play styles. One denotes a Sam Fisher-esque stealthy keep-to-the-shadows style, while the other involves intense shootouts much like the ones we've witnessed in games like Resident Evil. Manhunt 2 may not amount up to next-gen standards in terms of graphics, but it's likely to make a memorable mark once again with its unique design, chilling atmosphere, realistic audio and, of course, the severe brutality brought forth with extreme execution moves.
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