#570 Manhunt

Posted: 3rd June 2018 by Jeroen in Games
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698th played so far

Genre: Action
Platform: Playstation 2/Xbox/PC
Year of Release: 2003
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games

With Manhunt, we play one of the more controversial games out there – at least at its time of release. It’s a protagonist playing in a big game of murder and death, something you do in most games, but that celebrates it here in its fully violent ‘glory’.  Undoubtably, it will look boring and primitve now (Carmageddon, the controversial game I remember from my childhood, certainly suffered that fate).

There is a larger conversation about violence in games (with at least some credible research showing no link between video games and violence, or even situations where we see a correlation between higher video game consumption and lower violence rates), but I don’t feel too qualified to talk about that now. Instead, let’s talk about the quality of the game instead, as much as we can.

Our Thoughts

The easiest way to ruin a game are its controls and Manhunt has an issue there. The camera doesn’t have a fully free control, instead following the character – it’s as if you’re doing first person while in a third person game, and it doesn’t quite work – it’s quite confusing and, for example, really turns you around (yeah…) when you leave the wall after sticking with it in stealth. It’s something you sort of getting used too, though not fully, and it never quite gets out of your way.

It sort of carries over to combat – it all feels quite clumsy and can be quite bad. Really, the game is all about stealth takedowns – sneak up and kill them before they notice you, often in violent, gross ways. In fact, you can decide how bad it is by how long you hold the button – creating the infamous scenes.

The game revels in its gratuitous violence, encouraging you to amp up the violence and killing you gruesomely if you don’t get there. The background seems to be that you’re a condemned murderer, now the protagonist in a violent murder TV show – one that revels in seeing you kill everyone. So you get encouraged to, although of course the game doesn’t allow for a different approach. It feels there’s no point to it, no reason, and it just doesn’t compel me to keep playing I’ve seen plenty of violent games, but this is just so pointless that I don’t see why I would participate in this one.

Final Thoughts

As the boundary of what’s acceptable keeps shifting, this game’s supposed upsides – a big violent game – doesn’t look as compelling as both the violence isn’t interesting, and how it portrays that doesn’t appeal because it’s dated, and would have looked dated within a few years anyway. Something beyond “Raargh violence” might have made this work, but this is so underdeveloped it’s not worth it for me.