Review: Manhunt 2 (Playstation 2)
I never played the original Manhunt but remember hearing snippets about it when it was first released. The sequel slipped me by when it was first released but I happened upon a copy in a bargain games shop and thought it was about time I gave it a whirl. My initial concern was that I’m not normally good at these kind of games where you have to react quickly and fight lots of enemies, especially with guns, but that didn’t stop me.
The game begins at the Dixmor Asylum where insane patients are kept in cells in appalling conditions which leave nothing to the imagination. At the outset two men, Daniel Lamb and Leo Kasper, manage to escape from their confines. While Leo acts as the guide you take control of Daniel who is hampered by severe head pains and disorientation. The two men soon escape and go on the run, eluding an organisation known as the Project as they unlock the secrets of Daniel’s past and look to earn the ultimate prize – freedom.
The opening to Manhunt 2 is a testament to how brutal the remainder of the game will be. Guards urinating on prisoners are just one awful sight you’ll have to contend with while later in the game you’ll engage in a gun battle while a porn film is playing out on a big screen behind you. Yes, this game warrants that 18 certificate! At the outset you get to grips with the game and have some valuable lessons to learn. While Leo is with you at the start of missions, he soon disappears and leaves you to fend for yourself. In the early missions you’ll be armed with objects such as shards of glass and clubs which are vital to your survival. As you traverse the corridors of buildings or the streets the key to Daniel’s success is a pendulum swing between stealth and coercion. When enemies are in close proximity, they become visible via a helpful radar and you can duck into shadows where you’re very difficult to see. In fact the only time you are spotted is on the odd occasion enemies peer into the shadows and you are given a few seconds to hit a combination of buttons to avoid detection. Get your timing wrong and enemies will drag you out of the darkness and into the danger zone.
While hiding in the shadows is integral to your safe negotiation of each mission, combat is even more important. Combining stealth and attack is key as Daniel can execute enemies if he sneaks up on them and remains unsighted. If you are spotted then there’s no choice but to fight with clubs, swords, axes, saws, pistols, shotguns, bows, Uzis, you name it, you’ll probably find it in Manhunt 2. When Daniel starts wielding guns the difficulty of the game increases significantly, even though you’ll have an auto aim function. The objectives of the missions are fairly straightforward, it’s the combat that is the most difficult. You will find yourself on the streets with dozens of enemies all firing at you and you’ll have to fight the lot of them! Worse is to come when the police are involved and you have not only the armed officers put a helicopter with a searchlight scouring the area! Through all this action a very intriguing storyline plays out.
It’s difficult to go into too much detail with the plot without spoiling it. Let’s just say there is a very good twist in the latter stages of the game and after you’ve cleared the game’s fourteen missions, you’ll have the pleasure of two tense bonus missions, which offer alternative endings to the game, one happy, and one where evil prevails. Manhunt 2 is great fun and although the battles can be frustrating at times they’re always exciting. Checkpoints split up the missions but sometimes you’ll find these are not as generous as they could be. If you die, you’re forced to start from the last checkpoint. This became frustrating at the end of one mission when I fought a corridor and room full of enemies, took a lift to a parking lot and had to face off against a load more before the mission ended. Every time I died I was forced to start again! The story is worth playing through, the graphics are quite good but not spectacular, but the game is very violent and is strictly for adults only.
Manhunt 2 is a decent action/adventure game in the vein of Metal Gear Solid where stealth is just as important as fighting. The game suffers with the lack of checkpoints in places, some difficult set pieces and average graphics but the storyline is worth seeing through, especially the two dramatic bonus missions that will decide the game’s ending.
(Game source: reviewer’s own copy)