Manhunt 2 «

Manhunt 2 is Rockstar’s second foray into the ‘ole ultraviolence. While Grand Theft Auto often sets the news agencies ablaze with its carjacking and murdering of sex workers, it’s Manhunt that really gets the watchdogs’ blood boiling. Much like Alex from “A Clockwork Orange,” the bespectacled protagonist of Manhunt 2 is capable of murdering without conscience. Wallowing in the shameless brutality of this sick and twisted fairy tale is the player’s primary goal.

The reward for stealthily sneaking up on your victims is a broad range of killing vignettes, ranging from “hasty” kills to “violent” murders, and on to the most desirable “gruesome” kills. One could choose to avoid murdering many of the foes encountered in the game, but you are painted into a blood-red corner more often than not. It’s kill or be killed in Manhunt 2, and the fun, as it were, is in cutting as bloody a swath through the game’s antagonists as you can stomach.

Killing in the Name of… Anything.

Manhunt 2 is, in a nutshell, a fairly interesting story vehicle that provides the player with innumerable opportunities to slaughter human beings in the most creative of ways. Your character can carry and utilize a variety of different weapons and tools in murderous ways. Weaponizing regular objects and household goods is part of the allure for those who don’t mind setting their morality to the side for a few hours. Did you know there are three ways with which you can use a plastic bag to kill someone? And then there’s the electric table saw, the morning star, the shovel, the shard of broken glass, and so on. Added to the mix are new elevated executions, which you activate by pouncing on an unsuspecting victim from above. And then there are the new context-sensitive “kill zone” executions as well, like sticking someone face-first into a fuse box. Insert obligatory “shocking” pun here.

The biggest issue that fans of the original Manhunt will have with Manhunt 2 is the way that Rockstar toned down the violence in the game in order to appease the ESRB’s ratings board. The game’s trademark executions have been altered significantly, using stylized blurring and loss-of-focus post-processing effects to make the recognition of the events taking place on-screen hazy. Initiating a killing maneuver cuts the camera to an angle more suitable for viewing, which is then modified with camera edits and crimson filters that distort the events taking place, softening the impact of the on-screen brutality. The PlayStation 2 and PSP versions have a grainier look to them, with a more noticeable scanline effect that gives these versions of the game more of the feel of the original Manhunt, like they were recorded via security camera onto heavily reused VHS tapes. The PSP version in particular is the most visually impressive, as the other console versions don’t approach the state of the art on their respective platforms, while the handheld version’s graphics pack a lot of detail onto the smaller screen. It’s important to note that the Wii version of the game is the most heavily censored version of Manhunt 2, as the execution animations on the PSP and PlayStation 2 versions are far more recognizable.

 

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