While I’ve not yet been able to spend nearly as much time with Manhunt 2 as I’d have liked, last night I was able to put the finally-released Manhunt 2 into my Nintendo Wii for an hour or two of nastiness.
That isn’t meant to be a criticism of the game; far from it. After seeing how mixed the reviews were in the mainstream gaming sites, I’m left wondering if games like Manhunt 2 aren’t suffering from the same thing that films like Saw suffer at the hands of mainstream movie reviewer, but maybe that’s a discussion for another night.
Manhunt 2 looks to be what I’ve been hoping it would be, at least based on the brief play time last night: a brutal, disturbing and most importantly uncomfortable game to play. While a lot of places mightn’t understand why someone would willingly subject themselves to something disturbing, I know I don’t have to explain that to you guys. We like being disturbed. We like being scared.
The game opens cold. You’re a mental patient in an asylum where all the doors just sprung open. You don’t know why you’re there; you don’t know much more than your name, Daniel Lamb, and that you have a friend. Someone who appears to be a friend anyway. It’s him egging you on to kill, telling you that if you don’t, they’ll surely do the same to you. While there is a gleeful degree to the killings, there is a guilt to them as well. I could be wrong, but it seems like Manhunt 2 not only wants to reward your careful play with the most spectacular executions but it wants to make you feel bad about doing them, too.
When I was plunging an axe into someone’s neck and lopping off their head, part of me was saying I was just doing it to survive … but another part of me was telling me that I knew that wasn’t true.
Let’s not beat about the bush though; the editing is pretty obvious. When you pull off an execution, the filter they were forced to apply in order to get an M rating (the highest rating Nintendo and Sony allow games on their console to be) does make it hard to get more than a vague sense of what’s going on.
The motion control in these moments works well in that the game recognizes the motions you’re doing, but with little sense of what those motions are meant to translate to, it does rob a lot of the joy (and uneasiness) out of those moments. So far the controls have worked just as well as you could want, but I haven’t gotten my hands on a gun yet.
At this point, there’s still so much I don’t know, about the game and the story, but I know I like the grittiness of the graphics (though I think it’s bullshit they were forced to blur out the most disturbing parts of the game). I love the slightly tilted, slightly twitchy camera that works wonders in terms of making you feel really on edge as you’re sneaking up behind someone with a piece of broken glass, and I love the sound design.
Manhunt 2 isn’t going to be for everyone, I can tell that already, but there’s going to be a lot more of us horror fans that want to subject ourselves to this kind of entertainment than elsewhere.
Murder, but feel bad about it, in the Dread Central forums!