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Manhunt Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Rockstar Games
developer: Rockstar North
genre: Action

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
PIII 1000, 192MB RAM, 2.3GB HDD, 32MB video card
ESRB rating: M
homepage:
www.rockstargames.com/manhunt/

release date: Apr 20, 04
» All About Manhunt on ActionTrip


OK, this is how this works, folks: I'm gonna start the review by saying how absolutely, absurdly violent "Manhunt" is and you're all gonna go, "Damn, I gotta see what's so violent about this game," and then you'll run out to the store to buy it. This holds even more true if you're a hormonally imbalanced teenager looking to play some 'M' rated titles even though Mom says you're not supposed to. Go play with some actual titties, son, and I ain't talking about squeezing the boobs of your 250lb. friend Kevin after the football practice. This game is really not for you, and even though you might think it is and eventually play it, it just isn't. It's gonna occur to you in ten years time, when you're strangling a cat in your momma's basement and whistling Dixie, that I might have been right about Manhunt after all.

From now on, when I think about graphic violence in video games I'm gonna think about Manhunt. If so much fuss was raised about GTA: Vice City, I truly, really, honestly shudder to think what Joe Lieberman and his hordes of anti-gaming lobbyists will have to say about "Manhunt." I mean, hell, if GTA: Vice City is Saddam's sons sipping on Martinis in one of Daddy's palaces and just bitch slapping a few of the poor schmucks that happened to be around them at the time, Manhunt is an extreme close-up of them, a couple of months later, laying on bloody sheets with massive holes in their skulls and covered from head to toe in shrapnel; with carrion flies buzzing around, attracted to the stench of rotting meat and pieces of gray matter oozing out of the sickening, gaping holes in their heads (This is still a euphemism - Smap).

I've been playing this game for about a week now and I still can't figure out if there was any other reason for Rock Star North to be so graphic in depicting the world of Manhunt other than to stir up some serious controversy amongst the religious nuts and Puritans with their excessive use of any number of phrases that have to do with limp dicks, over-the-top usage of the word fuck in all possible tenses and forms, symbols resembling swastikas, trailer trash skin heads, "militant brothers from the hood" and of course lots of head chopping, spine breaking, limb severing, slaughtering, mutilation... Help me, I'm running out of ideas for violent killings here. (Here's some - vivisection, disembowelment, rotting corpses, adorned with artery-spurting blood spray strewn about the walls, forcibly castrated, with the knife wounds used for sexual pleasure. - Six)

Whoa there! Someone here forgot to take their medication.

But please don't get me wrong. I don't oppose video game violence; I just like to see it put in some kind of context. Violence that serves no other particular purpose than to simply create that shock-jock effect is not really something I find terribly appealing.

Even so, Manhunt is no Postal. And What I mean to say is that it's not a bad game. Actually, you can't really expect a game from Rock Star to be altogether bad, can you?

To its advantage, Manhunt - however gory and violent it may be - does have a certain unique sinisterly cool way about it, a moody manner, which just shows that Rock Star managed to successfully convey whatever effect they were looking to communicate to the player.

If anything, this game doesn't make any compromises. You're thrown into the action as an inmate on Death Row who cheats the chair by becoming part of an elaborate reality show where your only goal is to get through the course alive to win back your already forfeited life. The way that you're introduced to the game world is sharp, gritty and brutal - just like the gameplay. The dialogue and the overall philosophy of the designers was to put all the segments of this game in the service of making you feel like you've stepped in some warped version of a maximum security prison and you're chatting with a group of convicted rapists in the shower.

The actual mechanics of the gameplay work in such a way that this is very much a stealth-based action game. Stealth is the key here, much as it is in Splinter Cell. I don't want to take this comparison too far, but just like in SC, the gloomy appearance of the game world, littered with shadows and strategically placed light sources, is actually a completely functional piece of the gameplay. What Rock Star did very right was manage to balance the gameplay in such a way that getting through the level by slugging it out with the bad guys is an exercise in futility. You will simply have to use stealth because if the thugs gang up on you, you stand absolutely no chance of surviving.

And seeing how you ARE in a reality show after all, and ratings are God, you will have to use stealth if you are to perform executions, which are really the crux of the matter in this game. Executions get the fat slobs sitting at home and watching the show stiff as a board, and you have to keep the audience entertained. In essence if you stand behind a guy long enough while holding down the action button, the crosshair will go from gray to green and then red. Red basically means that the execution will be as gruesome and graphic as they get. VADAR particularly enjoyed the one where you use a machete to chop a guy's head off. Only, you can't do it in just one swing, so you really have to work on it a bit. And every time the machete hits the neck, you hear the sounds of skin ripping and bones crunching while the head is slowly severed from the body in extreme close-up. And when I say "enjoyed" I mean more like he had nightmares about it I think (I, for one, had a hard-on the size of Texas -Smap).

Besides machetes, our death row inmate Cash will get to use stuff like glass shards, wires, plastic bags, crowbars and many other execution handy weapons. Naturally, he'll also have plenty of firearms at his disposal, as the arsenal will of course expand as you progress from one "scene" to the next.

After you've spent some time with the game, you'll come to realize that inventive ways to kill a man, along with plenty of wall bashing with various objects to attract the thugs' attention is what Manhunt mostly comes down to (save for a few nice breaks involving intense gunfights). Hey, you can also throw severed heads of the guys you iced along the way to attract the attention of the enemy AI, but that's just a small sample of the weird grisliness that Manhunt has in abundance. This game is really all about violence; juicy, crunchy, blood-spilling action is what really draws your attention to this game.

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7.9   Good


HIGHS
Moody with a unique style, technically polished, well balanced stealth gameplay, eerily realistic sound effects and great music;

LOWS
Becomes a bit repetitive and even tedious at times, often simply appealing to the basic human instincts without much point or purpose.

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