Oh, how I tried. The critics have told the gaming populace to
love “Manhunt,” to love its style and atmosphere and to
exact our patience on the slow gameplay. I have spent hours trying,
but I give up. I do love the disturbed atmosphere of
“Manhunt”, and I see vast potential in the game’s
unique concept. But I won’t exact patience on a videogame.
When more that eight hours of play yields nothing but boredom, I
throw down my controller.

Janna Hutz
Bring it, Tipper. (Courtesy of Rockstar)

This wouldn’t be such an issue if there was a plot to glue
things together. The premise is there: Gamers play the part of
James Earl Cash, a convict on death row who is saved by an unseen
figure, aptly named the Director. This coarse and cynical voice
guides Cash through each “scene,” which mostly involve
gruesome killing in the name of snuff cinema. The only problem is
that the story doesn’t progress. Players are merely dumped
from one mission into the next with little explanation of purpose,
detracting from the intrigue that is created by the chilling
atmosphere.

The game is a stealth horror bloodbath that features the ability
to perform “Executions.” By holding down a button,
players can sneak up on unsuspecting thugs and carry out gruesome
deaths through a variety of cinematics.

The biggest fault of “Manhunt” is its
one-dimensionality. If this is a scary game, then where are the
attack dogs and Leatherfaces? If it’s a stealth game, then
why can’t the character crawl or climb to safety?

These restrictions are really a shame in light of the
game’s supporting elements. The graphics are beautiful,
supplying rich backdrops and detailed characters under a constant
layer of static, reminding players that the Director is filming
everything. The sound and music are easily the highlights of the
game. Suspenseful strings and cymbals rise and fall with the
turning of every corner, while the sound of muffled screams and and
freshly hacked limbs fill the air.

Of course, these praises are lost on a videogame that offers
little gameplay. Admittedly, “Manhunt” does have its
moments, but they are only moments. People curious to see what the
fuss is about might want to try it, but bloodthirsty gamers who
seek substance should stick to “Mortal Kombat.”

Rating: 1.5 stars.

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