Company: Rockstar North
Official Game Site
Estimated Street Price: $49.95/£44.99
Review By: Jonathan Tigner
patience need not apply. Manhunt is developed by Rockstar North,
famous for the Grand Theft Auto series. But a fast-paced run-and-gun
strategy will get you nowhere in this game (especially considering
it will be quite some time before you acquire a gun). Manhunt is a
single-player, third-person action game with a strong emphasis on
stealth combat. Like Splinter Cell and other games in this genre,
the key to success is keep yourself and the corpses you produce
invisible to your enemies. The last thing you want is face-to-face
confrontation, especially with a group of enemies.
- 20 (+4
bonus) levels of gameplay
Dynamic, ambient Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack
Chilling storyline delivered through
stylized camera views and graphic renderings
Excellent use of the XBOX Live! headset in a
just killed Cash. Now, they want to kill him again.
America is full of run down, broken rust-belt towns where
nobody cares and anything goes. In Carcer City, nothing
matters anymore and all that's left are cheap thrills. The
ultimate rush is the power to grant life and take it away,
for sport. This time James Earl Cash, you are the sport.
They gave you your life back. Now, they are going to hunt
You awake to the sound of your own panicked breath. You must
run, hide and fight to survive. If you can stay alive long
enough, you may find out who did this to you.
This is a brutal blood sport.
You are placed in the
role of James Earl Cash, an inmate at the Darkwods Penitentiary
whose spent the last three years on death row. The game begins with
a cinema showing Cash's execution. The public believes that Cash
has died, as planned, by lethal injection. However, thanks to
corrupt prison staff, what was supposed to be a heart stopping
concoction is instead just a strong sedative. Cash eventually
awakens to find himself in a locked room. The voice of Lionel
Starkweather sounds over the intercom speaker as Cash tries to smash
surveillance cameras and find a way out. Cash finally yields to
Starkweather's directions to put on a wireless earpiece that has
been placed on a nearby table. "Now only you can hear me and that's
the way you're going to want it because I'm your way out of this
mess," says Starkweather. "You've had an unexpected reprieve. Do
exactly as I say and I promise this will be over before the night is
out." From this point on, players with an XBOX Live! headset will be
able to hear all of Starkweather's directives just as Cash would
through his earpiece. If no headset is used, the audio from Cash's
earpiece is mixed with the rest of the game audio.
Starkweather is a
deranged snuff film director (excellently portrayed by actor,
Brian Cox) and
Cash has become the star of his latest sinister work. Gameplay
starts with a tutorial scene on an empty Carcer City street in which
you are free to familiarize yourself with the controls. As you
approach the end of the street, Starkweather seeks to test your mettle by
challenging you kill your first unsuspecting victim with the plastic
bag you have just acquired. You also get your first taste of the
game's explicit humor in the form of graffiti on the side of the
building around the corner from your first kill. The graffiti says,
"Kill This Dumb F***." and is followed by an arrow directing you to
the oblivious prey. This is the first of many directive and/or
humorous messages you will come across in the game. You can lock on
to the enemy with the left trigger. As you approach from behind, the
targeting reticle changes and Cash's arm raises to
signal that he's close enough to make the kill. Whenever you
successfully attack without being noticed by the person you are
stalking, the game switches to a view of your kill as seen through
one of Starkweather's cameras, giving you an up-close and gory view
of the effects of your actions.
Manhunt provides many
tools allowing you to stalk enemy hunters while remaining hidden.
There are many shadowy areas in the game where you can lurk without
being noticed. While in these areas, hunters will not notice you no
matter how close they are to you, unless you are seen running
in/into the area or the location in which you are hiding happens to
be in the path that a hunter normally patrols and either you or the
hunter bumps into the other. Be sure to carry the bodies of
your victims to these areas so they are not noticed by other
hunters. You can lure nearby hunters in your direction by beating on
walls or hitting/kicking other objects such as boxes or dumpsters to
make noise. Some objects, like bricks, can be thrown to distract
hunters. If you have an XBOX Live! headset, you can also make noise
by yelling into the headset's microphone. An on-screen radar (not
available in Hardcore mode) gives you a map of nearby hunters (dead
and alive) as well as items needed for the completion of certain
objectives. Your noise level is conveyed as a red circular area in
the radar that grows to cover a larger radius of the radar as your
noise level increases. Nearby hunters are usually represented as
yellow chevrons in the radar, but the chevrons change red if
intercepted by the noise radius, and the hunters go on alert looking
for the source of the noise.
Weapons are usually
easy to acquire in Manhunt. Even in the scenes where you start
without weapons there is usually one nearby. As you kill enemy
hunters, you can also pickup the weapons that they drop. In early
scenes, you'll come across items like plastic bags, wire, and bats.
Later, you'll encounter projectile weapons like nail guns and hand
guns. You can also break the glass of windows to acquire glass
shards that can be used as weapons. The shards are also found on the
ground or can be taken from hunters like the other weapons. As you
progress through the game, you will come across video cassettes. The
cassettes enable you to save your progress and you'll generally find
them just as you are getting anxious to do so. The cassettes will
become more valuable in later levels as you encounter more ambushes
and enemies start to hunt in groups.
fast-paced run-and-gun strategy will get you nowhere in this
game (especially considering it will be quite some time
before you acquire a gun).
Graphics & Sound
is impressive graphically. The character and environment models do
not set new graphical heights for XBOX games. They do, however, offer a
unique style and the right level of detail to qualitatively add to the game's
dark subject matter and provide a credible atmosphere that draws
you into the story. The dynamic Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack further
enhances the game's hold onto you senses by providing an
ever-present level of suspense as you wander through the spooky,
run-down areas of Carcer City. In addition to setting the mood, the
ambient soundtrack changes to alert you to potentially dangerous situations.
You can eavesdrop on the conversations and ramblings of nearby enemies, as well as
their taunts for you to come out of hiding. This proves especially
valuable in Hardcore mode where there is no radar. An XBOX Live!
headset is strongly recommended because it separates Starkweather's
directives from the other audio elements and puts them right into
your ear. Again, this is another great feature that helps you to
connect more directly with Cash's situation, and can, at times, make
you feel like you are actually in the game.
How It Grades
Manhunt is a great
addition to the action/stealth genre. The game's 20+ levels will
provide multiple hours of gameplay. Fans of the genre will enjoy the
challenge of executing Cash's enemies while trying their best to
remain hidden. However, casual players may find the game a bit long
and crave faster-paced action after a few hours of sneaking around.
In The Box?
1 Manhunt DVD
1 Instruction Manual/Faux Catalog
Excellent Use of XBOX Live! Headset
Entertaining In-Game Humor
No HDTV Support
PAL 60 Support (Europe)