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Manhunt 2 review

AT A GLANCE
  • When it's good, it's brilliant
  • Still brutal even with censorship
  • Strangely compelling story
  • Censored all to hell
  • Gunplay can get tedious
  • Can't rotate camera

Oct 29, 2007

It's been dogged by months of controversy, moral outrage, an outright ban in the UK and speculation that it might never come out at all, but Manhunt 2 is finally here. It's been through a few changes since we first saw it, but the basic premise of this stealth-horror adventure - hiding in the shadows and doing extremely nasty things to extremely nasty people - remains intact, as does its creepy storyline about escaped mental patients pursued by a shadowy, quasi-governmental research project. What has changed, however, is sure to upset gorehounds, or at the very least leave a bad taste in their mouths the next time they think about the ESRB.

The first Manhunt was schlocky, but it wasn't squeamish about gore; its stealth "executions" were the pinnacle of PS2-era gruesomeness, with unflinching depictions of face-stabbing, eye-gouging and dismemberment. Manhunt 2 was set to be even more brutal before the censors caught a whiff of it, and the game's final cut makes a weird compromise: most of the executions (save the few that got toned down) are just as brutal as originally envisioned, but now there's a weird camera filter that prevents you from seeing all the details.

It's sort of like watching the game while invisible thumbs press into your eyeballs; you can get a good idea of what's going on, but the discoloration and static make it impossible to make out anything clearly. You can tell, for example, that you're pulling a bonesaw through a masked killer's head, and you can hear his screams and the gooey splatter noises, but you can't see the blood or any clear detail.

So what's the point of playing a game about gore when you can't see the gore? Thankfully, there's more to Manhunt 2 than just slicing off limbs with a radial saw (and besides, the game's still plenty gory - you're free to admire your gruesome handiwork after the fact, and shooting someone in the face will make it explode in a chunky, uncensored fountain of red). The game has a darkly fascinating story to tell, and it turns out there's a surprisingly fun stealth game lurking underneath all the horror. One that is definitely, absolutely, undeniably not for kids.

More Info

Available Platforms: PS2, Wii, PSP
Genre: Action
Published by: Rockstar Games
Developed by: Rockstar London
ESRB Rating:
Mature

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