There's little doubt that Manhunt 2 is going to be another unsettling journey into gaming's darkest alleyways. We've witnessed the brutality that wait in both the Wii and PS2 versions and we can confirm that Rockstar is priming another genuinely disturbing episode for gamers to endure.
But the 18-rated gore is only one aspect of creating a truly traumatic ordeal - the world in which the unholy horrors are acted out must provide a suitably bleak setting that will submerge the player fully into the harrowing experience. So how will Manhunt 2 achieve this overwhelming sense of fear? Here, Rockstar gives us an insight into how the game's environments will be a potent accomplice to the murderous action...
Crafting fear - the environments of Manhunt 2
Whether it's the vast, desolate expanses of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining, or the dank, dark corridors of the Nostromo in Alien, any entertainment experience seeking to create unease and terror must rely heavily on the visual stimuli of its setting: to provide the subtle visual cues that instill dread, and the sudden shocks that trigger surprise.
The original Manhunt was a nightmarish excursion into a depraved world you quickly wanted to forget. Carcer City was the ultimate backdrop for fear and violence: an abandoned urban wasteland divvied up into turfs by the merciless Carcer City Police and ultra-violent gangs like the Innocentz, Skins, Wardogs, and ruled by a sick man known as The Director. With its shuttered mall, zoo gone wild, inmate run lunatic asylum and macabre mansion, the entire game was a twisted, over the top parody of our world. The fear and terror was palpable - the environments served as a dark stage to amplify the brutality that you suffered and inflicted.
Manhunt 2 has elevated this distinct brand of urban horror to the realm of the psychological. With its complex, conspiracy-driven story line that hinges on the questionable sanity of Danny Lamb, a conscious decision was made to take this fear and dread out into a broader world. Which mean the game and its environments had to be more expansive and immersive to better reflect Danny Lamb's journey to the heart of his own fractured psyche. This exemplifies Rockstar's continued commitment to making contemporary games that both reflect the world as it is, while amplifying aspects of this world to ensure unique and compelling gaming.
In terms of game design, this means translating these inspired environmental designs that create mood and tell the story into level designs that will perform within the limitations of a particular platform. Load times should never interfere with the seamless, horrifying mood that has been so artfully woven around the player, nor can you feel like you are playing in anything less than a fully realized, living, breathing world. It's a process that has been described as sheer torment - but it's a process which ultimately yields the unforgettably unique and terrifying interactive experience that is Manhunt 2.