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Review: Manhunt 2 (Unrated) PS2 September 19, 2007

Posted by stvchang in games, ps2, Review, Sony.
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I was pleasantly surprised in finding copies Manhunt 2 for the PS2 in the local gaming stores. Upon closer inspection, the version available now is of the PAL variety, meaning its the European version. In anticipation that this is the said leaked Unrated version, I grabbed a copy. Here is my take on the game, without any story spoilers.

Booting up the game on PS2, you play Danny, a escapee from a mental institution. Assisted by Leo as a voice over in your head (which is strange as Leo is never seen around you while in game). In order to evade a “manhunt” on you and Leo, you resort to stealth, sneaking up to your hunters and pulling off one of three available “kills” with whatever weapon you can lay your hands on (ranges from syringes, glass shards to knifes).

To achieve this, you will need to target your hunter and holding the square or R1 button while the the target reticule changes color, from white to yellow and finally red. Releasing the held button will then trigger the “kill” animation, to which the level of violence and gore will depend on how long the buttons were held. For example, with a glass shard in hand, releasing the “kill” button when white will trigger a simple “stab in the neck” animation. But releasing the button when red will trigger a nastier “slash neck, followed with few thrusts in the stomach” animation.

All these animations come with blood sprays that splashes on the TV screen, everytime. Pulling off the highest level of “kill” animation is the pay off in Manhunt 2, and its really satisfying when you get it after slowly and painfully studying the victims movement for a few minutes.

From what I can see on screen, there is no blurness or darkening of the kill animations, which was what IGN reported in the revised M version. This has led me to believe the version I am playing is the AO version, with no cuts in it. I have not reached the infamous “pliers ripping hunter’s testicles” part yet, so I cant verify that its indeed in this version I am playing now.

On the graphics side, Rockstar have added a layer of screen noise, which luckily you can turn off. Turning it off will give you a clearer and brighter screen, which is my preferred setting. Also, Rockstar have given the screen its own movement, that does shake even when Danny is standing still, making me rather nauseous. There is no option to stop this shake. Rockstar have included a 16:9 widescreen option, but no progressive scan. A strange graphical quirkiness is that the objects that Danny can pick up has a strange vibrating animation to it, which could represent Danny’s state of mind, but it bugs the hell of me.

Danny controls well, but there is a very strange control setup Rockstar have implemented. You cant control the camera with the right analog stick, unlike the GTA series. I find this very strange as I have to resort to turning Danny to see whats on the sides, as opposed to using the right analog stick top pan the camera. While Rockstar have included a wall hug to peek over the walls (using the triangle button), the omission of camera control on the right analog stick is a very strange decision, given other Rockstar games does allow for it. I wont be able to verify if this will be in the M version of the game too (as this AO version could be a leaked, incomplete version).

All in all, Manhunt 2 lived up to its hype. With solid stealthy gameplay, satisfying payoff when pulling “kills”, and very nice graphics for a last gen console, Manhunt 2 is one of the last AAA titles for the aging PS2. Its time to dust off your PS2 now.

Ratings: 9/10