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Manhunt 2 - hands-on with the game you might never play

If you spend much time looking at the internet, you already know that Manhunt 2 has been the subject of a lot of controversy of late, getting slapped with an ultra-prohibitive Adults Only rating stateside and being banned outright in most of Europe. As of this writing, it's unknown whether you'll ever get a chance to play through the blood-drenched saga of Dr. Daniel Lamb yourself, and you'll almost certainly never see it in its original, gloriously violent form. But we have, and the things we've done are not for the faint-hearted. We've severed heads, sheared off limbs and punctured eyeballs with dentist's drills. And for once, we can say that something on a Nintendo console is set to be a lot more shocking than anything on the PS2 - if it can survive the censors, anyway.

If the first Manhunt drew its inspiration from schlocky grindhouse slasher flicks, then Manhunt 2 is more akin to Hostel, Saw and the rest of the torture-horror genre. Like in the first game, you'll still creep around in the shadows, stealthily murdering thugs with whatever weapons you can find laying around. You'll also still get into occasional gun battles when you're discovered, breaking the tension built up by hours of hiding and sneaking. But this time, the plot is weirder, the executions are more varied, drawn-out and horrific and - on the Wii, at least - they're more interactive than ever.

Both versions of the game look more or less identical, but there are a few stark differences you should know about. The PS2 version, like the first Manhunt, features headset support, which you can use to make noise to draw enemies near you, as well as hear messages from Danny's sociopathic buddy, Leo Kasper. It'll control more or less like the last game (although none of the versions give you direct control over the camera, which tracks automatically behind Danny), with the action centered around hiding in dark areas, sneaking up on bad people and killing them in nasty ways. Shadowy areas are safe havens, so long as nobody sees you run into them or decides to peer in and try to yank you out, which happens occasionally. The brutality of each execution, as before, is dictated by how long you can wait unseen behind your victim before delivering the death blow, and it amounts to a brief, non-interactive cutscene once you initiate it.

On the Wii, though, things are markedly different. Not only will it look slightly better than the PS2 edition, but the sit-back-and-watch executions are now fully hands-on, with prompts that pop up and tell you what to do. Think of them as God of War-style quicktime scenes, only with motions instead of button presses. When Danny stabs downward, so do you. When he suffocates some fool with a plastic bag, you yank back on both the Wii remote and the Nunchuk to tighten it. And that's just for tame, simple, low-level executions; the really barbaric stuff takes a little more effort.

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