People rose to their feet, the band began to play and there was much rejoicing: Rockstar triumphantly returned to our offices with its newest build of Manhunt 2. In case you've been laid out, coma-stricken under a rock with no electricity, you've probably heard tell about the drama surrounding Rockstar's latest survival horror nightmare. Cruelly stamped with an Adults Only rating by ESRB, the game brought down the wrath of moral crusaders everywhere, was effectively deemed unreleasable by Nintendo and Sony, and subsequently banned in Europe in its then current form.
But you can't keep a good game down. After a short trip back to the drawing board, Manhunt 2 has been retooled for a Mature rating and is set to strangle store shelves this Halloween. So what exactly do you wanna know?
What's missing, right? Thankfully, not much. Manhunt 2 is still the hyper-violent feat of stealthful brutality, with zero loss to its darker than dark tone. Protagonist Dr. Danny Lamb will still stab, cut, slice and pummel his way through multiple levels of lurid intrigue, with everything as it was before being slammed with gaming's scarlet letter. The main thing that had ratings boards' panties in a bunch were the contextual, environmental stealth executions. Thankfully, silently sneaking up behind a variety of thugs will still reveal a onscreen prompt, and depending on your timing, they'll still unleash varying methods of uber-graphic ill will.
With the exception of the infamous testicle/vertebrae displacement, we're told all of these executions will be intact come late October... albeit somewhat altered. Now, upon entering the execution scenes, there's a newly added visual layer of weirdness. Everything goes all Christmasy, as if through a dark red and green filter, with pulsating motion blurs of blinding white. You still get an idea of the mayhem occurring on screen, but it's far less obvious and over the top than before. At best, the ambiguity enhances the disturbingly macabre motif. At worst, it makes watching the exhilaratingly barbaric execution scenes a little like trying catch a glimpse of a scrambled, late-night tit on a HBO.
But before you mourn the loss of the nut removal, rest assured that Danny Lamb is still the enemy of balls everywhere. We witnessed him holding an enemy's leg and delivering a devastating punt to the yam-bag, and we're pretty sure we saw him run someone's crotch through with a sharp object. (Again, the new visual effect leaves some of that to the imagination.)