Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
June 3rd 2004
Introduction:Rockstar has decided to give Xbox owners a dose of last year's playstation2 hit, Manhunt. Manhunt is a unique stealth based game which isn't for the weak at heart. There is violence, and then there is Manhunt violence! Welcome to the reality of James Earl Cash, star of Manhunt. Every moment hiding in the shadows, every move stalking his prey, survival of the fitist and snuffing out prey.
The Game:As I mentioned above the story of Manhunt follows James Earl Cash, a man who was sentenced to death in a prison, but instead finds himself awaking in a strange room to a voice. This voice is the supporting character which acts like a director by instructing and helping James overcome his weird situation of being the hunted in the broken down city of Carcer. Little to James knowledge, that this voice Stalkweather is playing him like a puppet tied to a string.
The gameplay of Manhunt is similar to Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell of all things. Just like Sam Fisher, you will be spending the majority of your time hiding in shadows, watching and waiting for the right moment to strike your foes. The aspect which isn't like Fisher, is that you just don't knock the guy in the back of the head; you actually have to kill each enemy in the game. It's a brutal and vicious world in Manhunt, which has incorporated the theme, kill or be killed.
Killing is done in two ways. One way is successfully sneaking up on a thug to get a death kill, which only takes one button press. When achieving a death kill you'll be rewarded with a brutal animation which will show you savagely taking the enemy's life, it's not for the weak - hearted. The other way is to fight it out man to man - no shadows and nowhere to hide. It's advised to use the stealth technique to kill because the thugs you'll encounter are tough, and any character can easy take you out if you're not careful. The combat in Manhunt keeps the tension high because you want to hide and attack which brings out some tense gaming moments.
Manhunt isn't a complex game and they do a great job of incorporating the director's part as a tutorial of sorts. Manhunt is a stealth - based game, so there is going to be allot of moments to perfect your hide and sneak game. No balls - out fighting like the Suffering . Manhunt isn't a flawless design; it can become a little monoton ous with the rinse - and - repeat gameplay for making it to the next checkpoint. Although everything else is original, Manhunt's gameplay has a tendency to repeat itself.
Graphics & Sound:The graphics of Manhunt are an obvious boost from the PS2 version. The Xbox version will get you clearer, crisp graphics and a steady frame rate. As you can imagine this game doesn't have an abundance of pretty scenery. No bikini clad girls, or beautiful lush environments. It's a dark world for James Earl Cash and the environments reflect this. Depending on your taste , this could be a good or bad thing because there isn't much variety - walking through broken down buildings fifty times might become tiresome.
Sound is crucial to stealth games, and Rockstar knew this when developing Manhunt. The sound is top notch and the voice acting couldn't have been executed better. Props go off to Brain Cox and his voice acting in Manhunt as your director, Starkweather. Remember this game is rated 'M'ature, so there is a good deal of offensive language and laughable remarks coming from the street punks of Carcer City. Manhunt doesn't need a loud soundtrack, and sustains itself just fine with a low level of ambient sound. Rockstar as always did an excellent job on the audio.
Innovation: "Innovation" is a good word to describe many aspects of Manhunt. Even though this game has been done mechanically before, it's never been recreated in this underground world of snuff. (Think Nicholas Cage in 8mm). Manhunt does a great job of keep you anticipation level high and has plenty of tense moments of great gameplay aside from the A to B structure.
Manhunt is also innovative in the way it connects with your Xbox Live headset. Instead of having the director speak to you overtop the action through the TV, you can have him right in your ear just like the main character. As well, you can vocally taunt the bad guys which can't happen when talking to your TV (riggghhhht??). The use of the Xbox Live headset adds to the spookiness and boosts the reality feel of the game. It's a great addition and one more developers should look at.
Mojo:Manhunt has the mojo in a weird evil kind of way. You will know if this game is your thing right off the bat. Manhunt isn't shy about its violent nature and it's reflected in many ways. Now for the demon in all of us, there are some great tense moments and some mojo-riffic killing to be done. If you like Bats, shards of glass, crowbars, chainsaws and nail guns you will be primed to sneak up and "whammo" those dirty bastards. You get the picture... and if you don't, Manhunt will show you. It's a creeped out day for the Mojo baby!
Lowdown:Manhunt is a creepy, violent, stealth based title which tries its best to make the player feel paranoid and afraid. Its mature theme isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy this type of thing you will be in a paradise of fallen victims.
Gameplay: 7, Graphics/Sound: 7, Innovation: 7, Mojo: 8. Final: 7