Friday, November 02, 2007

Manhunt 2 - Initial Impressions.

There's been plenty of talk about how horrifying and disturbing Manhunt 2 is. Penny Arcade's comic today made me laugh. Local news casters have been talking about how terrible the game is because it's a "murder simulator". I bought it because I'm a Rockstar fanboy and enjoyed Manhunt quite possibly more than I should have.

Manhunt 2 is okay. If you haven't played Manhunt then I recommend playing that instead. Maybe I am desensitized to over the top violence after decades of horror movies, video games, pornography, and local news but Manhunt 2 is seriously lacking in the creepy factor. Sure there are dismembered bodies and beatings and all sorts of unpleasantness but there's a cheap funhouse quality to the fear this time around. To be fair I am only a few hours in and there may be a couple of set pieces coming up that can take the Pepsi Challenge with Manhunt.

Here are the problems I currently have with the game:
  • I don't know if I'm sold on the story. You play Danny Lamb and start the game in a mental institution. There's a power outage and the inmates go beserk - of course. You and a buddy take advantage of the ensuing chaos and escape. The storyline so far is that a secret government project has been kidnapping people, pumping them full of secret government drugs, and brain washing them into being psychos. It's up to Danny to find out what's happened to him and get revenge. It's not particularly fresh but will be okay/bearable for the rest of the game.
  • The controls are weird and it's not because I haven't picked up a PS2 controller in awhile. Movement is controller with the left analog but the right analog doesn't really control the camera. Move the right analog left/right the camera leans - great for sneaking along walls and peeking around corners but little else. I often have to click R3 for first person camera control to look around the enivronment then click out and move. The L2 & R2 buttons are for strafing but I've found that I have to use a combination of left analog, strafing, and first person just to move around properly. Combat - fortunately - is pretty simple. L1 to lock, and R1 or square to strike. The rest of the controls are pretty solid though.
  • Manhunt 2 is an ugly game. Granted it's a stealth killer game that takes place in asylums, slums, and generally ugly depressing places but Manhunt 2 just looks shabby. It doesn't make me want to stop playing the game - there are times though I am pulled out of game just because it's s'darn ugly.

On the upside:

  • If you want a good creepy stealth slasher game for a reasonable price tag - $30.00 - then I whole heartedly recommend Manhunt 2.
  • If you were a fan of Manhunt and want more then pick this up.
  • The kills - while filtered - are still pretty horrific and satisfying in their own way. I'm a big fan of the ball point pen and can't wait to start collecting heads again - a favorite pasttime in Manhunt.
  • With the Manhunt series Rockstar has managed to create some really repulsive enemies. From bondage lunatics to overly abusive orderlies these are some foes you really enjoying snuffing.
  • Environmental kills - a new addition. I've only come across one so far - a toilet - and it was pretty cool. I hope there's a car crusher.
  • Danny Lamb looks like me in that, "Hey a white guy with close cropped hair and black framed glasses." kind of way. Now I have a Halloween costume for next year with minimal effort. Rock.

All in all I'll keep playing Manhunt 2 and see it through but it's seriously missing the Rockstar spark. Rockstar games have a certain panache that's been on the decline - a lot of the humor of GTA:SA was forced and in LCS & VCS was borderline painful. Most games also had additions to the Rockstar gameplay machine - i.e. the targeting system from Manhunt was used in GTA:SA - Manhunt 2 doesn't have anything special to it. Then again Manhunt 2 is probably going to be one of the last outings for Rockstar and the PS2.

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