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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

Trouble starts to set in with the first flashback stage. Set six years before the main storyline, the flashbacks put you in control of Leo Kasper, another asylum escapee who sticks with Daniel throughout the game and goads him into all the horrific acts he commits. These parts are problematic for a number of reasons; they're a distraction from the central storyline, Leo is thoroughly unlikable and they introduce gunplay, which means stealth gets tossed out the window for a little while and replaced with duck-and-cover, head-bursting shootouts. Although you can perform messy stealth-kills with guns, it's next to impossible to use them in a stealthy manner for long; the second they're fired, all the goons will come running and you'll have a full-scale firefight on your hands.



Some later levels ignore stealth almost entirely, forcing you to repeatedly run out into the open and take down multiple baddies with an Uzi or a shotgun. These sequences are more repetitive and a lot less stylish than stealth-killing, and they feel like cheating after you've spent so much of the game lurking out of sight, waiting for the right moment to strike. What's more, they're just not as much fun, especially not when compared to brilliant stages like Sexual Deviants, a trap-filled secret torture club that's a straight-up homage to the Hostel films. (Especially on the Wii version, where the clientele wear smart black suits and animal masks that, for whatever reason, don't appear on the PS2 or PSP.)

In fact, for every fun, gore-filled stretch of Manhunt 2, it seems like there's a lengthy, relatively joyless run through a punishing gauntlet of enemies that are next to impossible to stay hidden from. It's disappointing, but ultimately worth it to get back to the meat of the game; it's just too bad that it all leads up to an endgame that trades the raw, pants-shitting terror of the first Manhunt's final level for something more dreamlike and symbolic - and frustrating, and tedious, and gun-filled.

Flaws aside, the game is more or less identical across all three platforms, although the Wii version - in addition to its unique controls - is more generous about giving players cool weapons to play around with, and features a few small, stylistic differences, such as the Hostel-inspired torture-goons. The PS2 version, meanwhile, features lock-on aiming, less-interactive executions and headset support, with that last one enabling you to verbally harass hunters and listen more clearly to Leo's murderous advice.

Unfortunately, there's also no direct camera control, which was apparently a deliberate design choice meant to keep you from being able to keep tabs on your pursuers by means other than the onscreen radar. That's not a problem on the PSP version, however, since no second analog stick means no feeling jilted when you can't use it. That said, Manhunt 2 actually translates to the handheld remarkably well, and is easily one of the best-looking, best-playing things on the system right now.

More Info

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

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