Movies have used shock value for decades to draw in audiences and make a quick buck. The game industry is hardly a stranger to controversy, though at the very least when Hollywood releases something like Saw, it's original and gripping. Manhunt 2 is a mess, lacking focus and delivering nothing more than a few gruesome kills to appease an audience looking for more blood.
Players control Daniel Lamb, wakened inside an insane asylum with little information as to why he's there or how to get out. Early moments in which Lamb struggles with the consequences of his action are intriguing, but the game around this is not.
Muddy graphics greet the player, making the human characters cartoonish. It's hard to take this situation seriously given the presentation. Weapons and power-ups float and glow as they spin in the air, a flashback to 16-bit games of old. It's a cheesy side to a product that's meant to be taken seriously.
Combat is clunky and sluggish. The lock on targeting doesn't feel necessary for hand-to-hand fighting. It's more a crutch to make up for the lackluster response.
Manhunt has never been about beating your way through foes. It's about sneaking around in shadowed areas to stealth kill adversaries. Environmental kills are new in this sequel, allowing for the use of objects found in the game world to slaughter those in your way. Guns are also added, though their impact isn't as great.
As with the first game, three levels of stealth kills are available. The longer you hold the button, the more graphic the kill. Each weapon has a specific death routine; meaning inquisitive players who take the time to find weapons will rarely see the same sequence twice.
Stalking in Manhunt 2 uses an incredibly archaic mechanic. Dark areas mean you simply can't be detected. AI adversaries can walk next to you and not figure out you're there. The industry has progressed, yet Manhunt hasn't.
Stealth murders are the source of controversy since the game landed an AO rating prior to the addition of graphical filters to block out the heaviest violence. In a way, the blurred, off-color scenes almost add to the horror instead of taking away from it. Either way, they add nothing to the game as a whole censored or not. They exist for shock value, and in this industry, that's difficult to find anymore.
If Rockstar Games wanted to go all out, this wouldn't have ended up on outdated hardware. The laughable character models destroy any sense of this being a serious tale, and the sloppy, inconsistent gameplay feels incredibly rushed for a Halloween release. Manhunt 2 isn't worth any of the controversy.
Manhunt 2 is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs. This game can also be found on: PSP, Wii.