Manhunt (Microsoft Xbox, 2004)
|Manhunt casts you as James Earl Cash, a prisoner on death row. You are led down a corridor where you are about to receive a lethal injection. The needle goes in. You wake up hours later. A mysterious voice tells you to stick in the nearby earpiece, and explains that the "lethal" injection was just a heavy sedative. The man, later identified as Starkweather, turns out to be a director of snuff movies, where the people are really killed. He explains that if you follow his directions, manage to kill people and survive, you'll earn your freedom. This begins James Earl Cash's journey.
Rockstar North's first game after Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is billed as an "urban horror" title that has players being hunted for the sole entertainment of a wealthy madman. Following a storyline that draws similarities from such films as The Warriors, Hard Target, and The Running Man, Manhunt casts players in the role of James Earl Cash, a man unwittingly snatched from death row to participate in a twisted game of survival. As in the developer's previous two releases, players find themselves exploring a seedy, dark city from a third-person perspective, but that's where the similarities end. The locales, which include sewers, a prison, shopping mall, factory, junkyard, and more, are all abandoned and in various states of decay.
Throughout the course of the game, you'll have to make your way through different locales, such as a city and a mall, while killing gangs. You'll face lots of different gangs, from The Hoods and The Skins to tougher gangs like The Innocenz. Gang members carry weapons ranging from pistols and shotguns to knives and glass shards.
Manhunt is primarily a stealth game. You'll have to hide behind walls, flatten yourself against walls, crouch, hide behind objects, and walk to avoid attracting attention. You can also throw glass bottles to create a distraction, or you can punch surfaces and yell to get gangs to come to you.
You have a variety of weapons at your disposal, from the traditional, such as the shotgun and uzi, to the disgusting, such as a sickle and plastic bag. Each weapon has three different ways of attacking, depending on how long you hold the button. A quick attack will do the job, a medium attack will be bloody, but a high attack, requiring the longest amount of time, will earn you the most points, and will allow you to see your kill in a cinematic style, with blood splatting on the camera, and gurgling noises.
Manhunt also lets you use a USB headset, such as the one that came included with SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals. With the headset, you will hear Starkweather speak into your ears instead of through your speakers, and you will be able to shout into the microphone to attract gangs instead of pressing a button.
Sound also plays an important role in Manhunt. An onscreen indicator measures the decibel level of each action players make, whether it's running, walking, firing a gun, or smashing a window. If the character is too loud, gang members will quickly track him down and make life more difficult. Fortunately for players, the sound of enemies is also tracked via radar, which helps isolate threats based on their movement; once they stop making noise, however, players are on their own. Each gang employs different tactics to snuff out players: some will wait in the shadows, while others use heavy artillery. Players can fight back with hand-to-hand moves, guns, or perform stealth kills using such items as meat cleavers, plastic bags, and hammers to slice, suffocate, and bludgeon enemies.
The game received positive reviews by critics, with particular praise directed at its dark tone and violent nature. The game also received great controversy, due to the level of graphic violence in it. It was banned in several countries, and implicated in a murder by the UK media, although this implication was later rejected by the police and courts. The game won several accolades, and spawned the sequel Manhunt 2 in 2007. As of March 2008, the Manhunt series has collectively sold 1.7 million copies.
|Number of Players||1|
|ESRB Rating||M - Mature 17+|
|ESRB Descriptor||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language|
|Game Special Features||
|Game Series||Manhunt Series|
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