Lazy Bastard. Two can play at that game!

21 11 2007

Huh. If he can do it, so can I! Here’s my Manhunt Review, published in this week’s Gateway:

Published in The Gateway at the University of Alberta, 19/11/07.

Manhunt gruesome but dull

It seems that whenever Rockstar Games releases a new title, it’s destined to be rife with controversy. Manhunt 2 is no different. After being delayed for six months to tone down its excessive violence, we finally have what concerned parents and politicians would call an “ultra-violent murder simulator” in stores. However, despite all the attention that this title has gotten in the mainstream press, most gamers don’t give a shit about it—for good reason.

Manhunt 2 takes place in the Dixmor Asylum for the Criminally Insane. You play Daniel Lamb, a scientist who was part of a top secret experiment known as the “Pickman Project” and thrown into the asylum by the government after the experiment went horribly wrong. One night, the power goes out during a thunderstorm, and all the psychopaths are left to run loose. Your goal is to escape with your life—all the while finding the most violent way to take out your fellow inmates.

The game plays like an otherwise watered-down version of Splinter Cell, with the violence cranked up to eleven. It’s fairly simple: you sneak through the asylum, evade your fellow inmates by hiding in the shadows, and attack when they least expect it. While the majority of the game is this basic, killing is where it starts to get complicated.

When first starting the game, you’re forced to go through a tutorial of different ways to swing the Wii remote and nunchuck to kill people. These kills are as diverse as they are perverse. Want to cave a man’s head in with a fire extinguisher? Go ahead. Want to cut off a man’s testicles? Give it a try. Want to play a game that’s fun? Sorry, maybe try Manhunt 3 in two years.

While the Wii may have a more powerful graphics engine than the PS2 or PSP, the versions look disappointingly identical to one another. The environments aren’t too ugly, but the character models are awful, looking like a now-dated PS2 launch title. In order to actually get this game published, Rockstar had to introduce filtering effects during some of the more exquisite kills. But after your 20th kill or so, said effects will start to give you headaches, and you’ll begin to wonder why you needed to remove that homicidal maniac’s genitalia.

If there there’s one high point to the game, it’s that the sound production is very well done. Every disturbing kill corresponds with an assortment of equally disturbing screams, moans, squishes, splatters, and slices. There really isn’t that much background music during play, which adds to the creepiness.

As the first M-rated title for Nintendo’s little white box, Manhunt 2 is something of a flop. It seems that all the controversy was for nothing, as most gamers don’t—and rightfully shouldn’t—care for Manhunt 2.

 img_sprite1.gif–Kyle “Jastrick”




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