[Editor's note: Our sister mag from the UK, PSM3, was lucky enough to review the PS2 version of Manhunt 2 before it was banned outright. But don’t worry though, as soon as Rockstar works out all the kinks, we’ll kindly review the final version. But for now, direct your eyes towards the review of the game you’ll never play.]
At the time of writing, the UK’s British Board of Film Classification has refused to give this sequel to Rockstar’s 2003 game a rating, citing its “casual sadism” and “unremitting bleakness.” Now certainly, there’s no denying this is a violent game, one that relies on violence for its thrill, and thus not for the faint-hearted. While Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series, with its free-roaming maps and fuel-injected vehicles, is about making you feel powerful, Manhunt, with its closed, self-contained levels and linear paths, is designed to make you feel threatened and powerless.
Whereas its predecessor was pretty flimsy on story, though, Manhunt 2 is far more driven by narrative - and actually, beneath all the blood and gore, is far from devoid of morality. You play Daniel Lamb, an amnesiac who has just been sprung from his cell in the Dixmore Insitute for the Criminally Insane by a freak thunderstorm. Your path out the hospital - and your attempt to recover your identity - is guided by a fellow prisoner and former government agent, Leo Kasper.
Now it’s not giving anything away to say there’s something odd about Leo. His eerie exhortations to maim and murder echo through your head even when his character isn’t on screen. And in the cutscenes where you keep your neck-cracking bloodlust in check enough to actually hold a cordial conversation with another character, it’s not uncommon for them to act as if he’s not there. Without wanting to give anything away, if you’re thinking Tyler Durden in Fight Club, well, you’re about a third of the way there.