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This game has been rated M for Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, and Use of Drugs by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).

Daniel Lamb and a friend named Leo are both prisoners at an asylum where the staff makes sport of abusing the inmates. One night turns violent when a thunderstorm causes all of the electronic gates to malfunction and open, setting the infuriated prisoners free. In the ensuing chaos, Daniel and Leo escape and are soon involved in a massive citywide manhunt as they traverse moody and dangerous environments to evade the Project, a twisted program that experimented on their minds. They must also try to piece together their fractured pasts and figure out just how deep the Project really runs. The storyline is really terrific and rivals many of the storylines in recent video games.


Gameplay (15/20)

Players control Daniel and sometimes Leo in 3D stealth action gameplay. The two friends must traverse the environments and avoid getting killed by members of the Project (called hunters) as they race to uncover the dark secrets behind the Project and their own convoluted pasts. Avoidance is not an option; killing the hunters is absolutely necessary to progress, although unlike the first game in the series, not everyone necessarily deserves to die (as many characters are simply security guards and not malicious villains). When Daniel or Leo approaches an enemy unseen and is holding a weapon, his arm will raise. Players must then hold down the attack button to prepare for a kill. The longer the button is held down, the more brutal the kill will be (indicated with a color coded target: white for normal, yellow for brutal, red for gruesome). There is a wide variety of weapons with which to kill enemies, including new environmental kills. The game focuses a bit more on action a short ways through the game as guns are introduced.

While there was nothing really terribly wrong with the gameplay, it wasn’t all that great, either. It doesn’t bring anything new to the stealth table, and enemies are hopelessly stupid (you can run into shadows and if the enemy doesn’t see you, they simply forget you were there). When you retreat into the shadows and the enemy is nearby, you simply need to input an onscreen prompt to “hold your breath” so the enemy misses you. Overall, the stealth mechanics feel very dated and while they work fine, don’t expect polish and finesse of Sam Fisher caliber. Gunplay, however, is a basic yet exciting experience where you must take cover but wait to fire until your enemy is reloading. It’s a refreshing change from the generic “run and gun” mechanics that are so common today.

Graphics (10/10)


On the PSP, Manhunt 2 is one fine looking game. The presentation of the whole package is terrific. The game has the feel of being filmed with a handheld camera, with some static effects and a slightly moving camera that shakes more when Daniel or Leo runs. During executions, the camera gets even shakier and blood sometimes splatters on it. The other graphics are also some of the best on the PSP. The shaky camera is not likely to cause any sort of sickness or irritation, but the static can be disabled. The shadows and details are very nice, as are the character models and movements.

Sound (10/10)

Once again, Rockstar does not disappoint in the sound department. For the full effect, the game really must be played with headphones. Like Silent Hill: Origins, it makes a huge difference and really helps in setting the mood. The voice acting is excellent; every actor’s voice fits his or her character well, and little static bursts, echoes, and ambient music (including a great score) prove that Rockstar is still one of the leaders when it comes to audio in video games.

Control (3/5)

The control is passable. The actions were fairly responsive, but it took a tiny bit of getting used to holding down the two shoulder buttons to target enemies. Combat feels a tad sluggish, but I think this was intentional in order to contribute a slightly more brutal and guttural feeling to the combat. Turning, however, can get a little ugly since the shoulder buttons are already taken. Turning involves pushing the analog stick to the left or right and is not very comfortable at all. The mechanic that involves sticking to walls can be temperamental at times but is still functional.

Stability (5/5)

The game boasts manageable load times, a smooth and steady framerate, and no instances of crashing. I had no problems with the stability whatsoever, even in areas of intense action.

Appropriateness

You may recall that Manhunt 2 was initially labeled with an AO (adults only) rating by the ESRB. Rockstar was able to cut it down to a very hard M. What you see here is the edited version.

Violence (0/10)

-People killing other people in cold-blooded murder (-5 pts)
-Blood sprays on the wall and everywhere else (-2.5 pts)
-Gruesome details (-2.5 pts)

The game is all about gruesome kills. As I said before, the length of time the button is held down determines the intensity of the kill. And some of the kills here even made this weathered critic wince and almost turn away. Rockstar applied a filter to the kills that makes them difficult to see, but the realistic sound effects are intact and it is still very obvious what it going on. Blood splatters the screen and everywhere else, heads can be severed and used as weapons, graphic gunshot wounds are clearly visible, and there are scattered scenes of torture and animal cruelty. This is one truly depraved game.

Language (3/10)

-R-rated language (-5 pts)
-Occasional sexual references (-2 pts)

It’s not over-the-top, rampant swearing, but Manhunt 2 has its fair share of colorful language that you won’t hear on primetime anytime soon. F-words and s-words pepper the script here, along with nearly every other profanity you can think of (though I think it shied away from the taboo c-word). The scene in the club has a few sexual references, but they don’t run thick through the entire game and are, surprisingly, not very common.

Sexual Content (1/10)

-Partial nudity (-4 pts)
-Characters seen having sex (-5 pts)

An early level in the game involves a visit to a steamy nightclub that is not all it seems. It is here that the poisonous combination of sex and violence emerges, and the level is permeated with scantily clad characters and videos with explicit audio and video (we see the body movement and hear groaning, but graphic nudity is obscured).

Occult content (10/10)

-None

The game is free of any supernatural content, which is good.

Cultural/Moral/Ethical (4/10)

-Active rebellion required to play (-2.5 pts)

There are areas of the game with police, but the level of rebellion never rises above what is seen in, say, Grand Theft Auto (another Rockstar game).

-Poor value decision making required to progress (-2.5 pts)

“Gee, there is a man here in front of me, oblivious to my presence! Shall I kill him or not?” Actually, the game never lets you choose. Killing is a necessity to survive in the twisted world. The real choice here is whether to use the plastic bag, the wire, or the nearby manhole cover.

SCORE:
EXPERIENCE
Gameplay: 15/20
Graphics: 10/10
Sound: 10/10
Control: 3/5
Stability: 5/5
TOTAL: 43/50

APPROPRIATENESS:
Violence: 0/10
Language: 3/10
Sexual Content: 1/10
Occult Content: 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical Values: 4/10
TOTAL: 18/50

FINAL SCORE: 61% D-



There was not much wrong with the actual gameplay for Manhunt 2 besides some dated mechanics, and the presentation was excellent. However, the quality is marred beyond recognition by horrific and pervasive violence, rampant profanity, strong sexual content, and mandatory depraved behavior. Those are things that are impossible to wade through with a clean conscience and will most likely weigh down a Christian soul. I am very glad to finally be done with it.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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