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

We were also able to play around with guns on this level. Using them for close-up executions is a lot more brutal than just shooting guys; after we crept up on a guard, Leo grabbed him, kneed him, forced the gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger, making a huge mess. Of course, the noise alerted the other guards to our presence, and a tense, duck-and-cover gunbattle ensued. Like Gears of War, Manhunt 2 will enable you to flatten yourself against cover, sidle around, jump between cover points and pop out when the time is right, which in this case was every time one of the guards had fired six bullets in our direction.

Gunfights are a little more chaotic when you don't have a lot of cover, which happened to us when we got yanked out of the shadows in the "Honeypot" level, a seedy-looking brothel used as a recruiting ground for Pickman Project test subjects. There's a brief moment of surprise on the part of the hunters when they yank you out of hiding, and we used this to bash our aggressor in the face and steal his shotgun.

Of course, other hunters came running and we opened fire, which - after all the effort we'd put into the sickhouse executions - was sort of an unsatisfying way to kill them. Even though we'd taken out the immediate threat, the hunters were on high alert and had stepped up their presence, so we had to hide again before we could resume executing them in awful ways; luckily, they don't check the shadows very often, not even when they know Danny's there.

While it's about the most depraved thing we've ever played, Manhunt 2 isn't just about spilling buckets of gore; it's also a remarkably competent stealth-action title that does a great job of creating a creepy, tense and faintly revolting atmosphere. It's slicker than the first Manhunt, with more interesting gameplay elements (as well as more cool bells and whistles), and its convoluted, insanity-driven plot is a little more compelling than the first game's simple snuff-film setup. Above all, the levels we played were a lot of fun, and they've got us hungry for a stab at the full game. Whether they'll still be the same when we finally get it is anyone's guess, however; we'll just have to wait and see.