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Manhunt | review | game | Lollipop
(Rockstar Games for PS2)
by Eric Chon
Sometimes more of a thing isn't quite so good. Rockstar had a mega-hit with the now infamous Grand Theft Auto 3 (and Vice City), and deservedly so! Much has been said about its various merits and issues; violence being the hot-button topic of the week. Well, if people were ready to gasp at GTA's excess, they should be ready to shit their pants at Manhunt's brutality.
Manhunt is the latest offering from Rockstar Games, and it certainly ups the bloodletting by an exponential degree. Again you're a criminal, but now you are the hunted. After being sentenced to death for various transgressions against mankind, you wake up (rather surprised) in the same room, albeit vacant of other people. A static-laden voice instructs you that you are given one more chance as long as you do what he says: Kill everyone hunting you.
It's all in the guise of a "reality" snuff video. The idea is to sneak around and hunt the hunted; killing them in as a dramatic and gory way possible so that the mysterious voice can record your handiwork for later profit. You can find various implements of death as you traverse the many levels (weapons include plastic bags, shards of glass, baseball bats, and a host of guns), splitting skulls and stabbing arteries to your heart's content. Not exactly a light-hearted subject matter, to say the least.
But the grisly nature of the game becomes rote and pedestrian as it plods along. Gone is the refreshing freedom of GTA or the tongue-in-cheek humor that kept it from going too far. What we're left with is a lesson in brutality-through-stealth; where being a psychopath will reap you the rewards (I assume that would be completing the game). Violence rarely phases me, and even here, it loses its "attraction" since that happens to be the game's only stand-out content.
Much of the game play is replicated in better titles (Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven should be available in your bargain bin by now). Manhunt is essentially a modern-day equivalent of a ninja title with most of the fun stabbed out of it. If hours of this equals ecstatic fun to you, then Manhunt is the perfect title. Otherwise, it'll have a hard time outliving your three-day rental.