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Review: 'Manhunt 2' a shockingly average thriller

  • Story Highlights
  • "Manhunt 2" disappoints because of frustrating technical glitches
  • Game is extremely violent, but has little substance
  • "Manhunt 2" is rated "Mature" for players over 17
  • "Manhunt 2" is not for kids, so take rating seriously
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By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
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If the talented developers who created "Manhunt 2" put half as much effort into making the game fun as they did shocking, it might be worth picking up. But this is not the case as this disturbing violent game is simply an average adventure that delivers more kills than thrills -- not to mention some annoying technical glitches that can also mar the experience.

To be clear, "Manhunt 2" disappoints not because it's controversial. In fact, Rockstar Games' infamous "Grand Theft Auto'' games are very entertaining digital diversions even if you strip away the mature theme -- but there's little substance to be found in this "Manhunt"' sequel.

Available for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 2 and Sony PlayStation Portable, "Manhunt 2'' begins as your character, Dr. Daniel Lamb, escapes the Dixmor Asylum for the Criminally Insane, after being injected with a mysterious drug that unleashes his homicidal tendencies. Without giving much of the plot away -- yes, there is actually a story here -- Lamb finds himself outside in the real world, beginning with a visit to his now-dilapidated home of his youth. But not without going on a killing spree first, even though it appears to be out of Lamb's control, as it's not unusual for him to vomit and utter remorseful words after committing these murders.

This disturbing psychological story is even more controversial on the Nintendo Wii -- not just because the Wii is often considered a family-friendly gaming system -- but because of the Wii's wireless motion-sensing controllers, therefore all of your killing is performed by mimicking the movements with your hands in front of the TV. This includes stabbing by thrusting the controller forward, slashing up and down or whacking someone over the head with a sledgehammer by moving your arms accordingly.

In fact, this is the toned-down version of "Manhunt 2'' as the game was facing an "Adults Only'' rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board earlier this summer (now it carries a "Mature"' rating). Some violent scenes were "blurred" out while others were removed altogether, one of which involved a pair of pliers and someone's genitals. But even while wearing a liberal hat (and freedom of speech T-shirt), "Manhunt 2" doesn't really add much outside of its shock value. Many other video games, such as Konami's "Metal Gear Solid"' and Ubisoft's "Splinter Cell"' series offer similar game-play -- which includes skulking in the shadows to remain undetected, stealthily snuffing out an enemy and carrying the body away to avoid being seen -- but handle it in a smoother and more compelling way.

"Manhunt 2" also suffers from some technical glitches, such as getting half of Lamb's body stuck in a dumpster (and having to load a saved game to continue playing) or trying to fight a guard but Lamb keeps picking up a body on the floor and tossing it over his shoulder because the game thinks I'm trying to hide a victim.

"Manhunt 2" will likely sell like hotcakes because of its media attention, but in the end it only pushes the violence envelope rather than a game-play one.

Be sure to take heed to the "Mature"' rating in the corner of the box, therefore not suitable for players under the age of 17. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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