Rockstar Games seems content in antagonising censorship boards worldwide with some of its titles, and its latest release for PC, Manhunt, is no exception.
You play James Earl Cash, a prisoner sentenced to death by lethal injection for his crimes against society. For some reason, you have been given a second chance in life and are injected with sedatives instead of a lethal dose. Dazed and confused, you awake in a room to hear a voice instructing to pick up a nearby headset and follow the instructions. A director of a snuff film company has chosen you to be the main character in his real life slasher films, following your every move. In an abandoned metropolis called Carcer City, various street thugs and hunters are wandering the streets baying for your blood and the director intends to film the resulting escapades. The more executions or kills made, the more footage for the director, and if you survive the onslaught, it results in freedom.
Right from the start, Manhunt has a GTA (Grand Theft Auto) look and feel. Even the dropped weapons hover above the ground with a coloured halo, similar to the GTA series. But this title definitely packs more punch in the blood and guts stakes; it has to be one of the most violent games out there at the moment. If you are after a style of game that involves running into a room and gunning down the enemies, this is not for you. The title focuses on stealth kills and not the usual mêlée fighting seen in other third-person view titles. Traverse the urban landscape by hiding in and out of the shadows, biding your time to take out the enemy. Different weapons such as machetes, nail guns, chainsaws and the humble plastic bag offer many ways to get rid of the thugs. Your executions are rated by the director: for example, the length of time you hold down the attack button while sneaking behind a hunter results in different levels of executions. Secret content within the game can be unlocked by performing a certain number of executions.
The gameplay tended to be a little repetitive once I had uncovered all the different death animations, but I still felt a sense of enjoyment upon completion of levels. The audio and video work well together to produce a dark and brooding title, and the cut scenes during some particularly nasty executions look very real indeed. Different levels of difficulty for the title offer great replay value but no multiplayer is supported.
When playing Manhunt, it’s recommended to turn off all the lights to get the full atmospheric effect. Parents may want to steer their younger children away from this title, but for the older gamers it’s fun to play and innovative in its own right.
Score CardVisuals: Portrays a dark and dingy world
Audio: Ambient and eerie
Gameplay: Easy to control, satisfying death animations
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar North