in The Vault

Manhunt (2003)

This week, I decided to revisit a game that always intrigued me but I never gave much of chance back in the day. The game is Rockstar’s Manhunt and it’s an odd one. I have memories of being so excited for this game to come out and then when it did my brother and I pooled our money together and convinced one of my parents to buy it, not that they were ever restrictive of what we played. To

To us, it looked like Grand Theft Auto (I guess there was only three back then) if it was a murderous horror movie and for some reason that got me excited, but not in a creepy way. When I finally did play it I had very mixed feelings. Here I was expecting something like a scary, action-packed sandbox game and what I got was a difficult slow paced stealth game built around levels. I probably played it for no more than a few days before giving up on it entirely and never even beat the first level, but times have changed.

I started playing this again around Halloween and was quickly reminded of why I originally gave this up. This game does try your patience early on and it’s still my opinion that the beginning section is one of the game’s most difficult hurdles. All you want to do is leap out and hack people apart, but that’s not what it’s all about. Manhunt is all about strategy, how you are going to accomplish your kill and how you’re going to avoid being noticed. It’s tough to get into if you’re an impatient person like myself, but if you can you’ll be able to work into a rhythm and appreciate the appeal of a good stealth game.

The game follows James Earl Cash a prisoner on death row ready to be executed. On his way to the procedure that will end his life Cash is suddenly kidnapped by a group of henchman employed by an exploitation filmmaker named Lionel Starkweather (voiced by Brian Cox). Cash is transported to the gang infested Carcer City where through the direction of Starkweather through an ear piece must execute gang members so that it can be filmed to make f’ed up entertainment. Levels are called “Scenes” and after you beat a handful Starkweather’s men pick you up and take you to another part of Carcer only to begin the madness once again.

Based in the GTA universe and using what appears to be the same engine, Manhunt is basically GTA if it was about being a serial killer. The major differences between the two games are one, this is not a sandbox game (though the levels are huge) and two, this game relies on stealth. Kills are performed by hiding, often in the shadows where you cannot be seen and then sneaking up gang members with various weapons including; plastic bags, shards of glass, knives, baseball bats, wire, machetes, and more.

Being detected makes situations more difficult so it helps to utilize your environment, mostly you use the radar that shows where enemies are located and whether or not they can see you. It may sound disappointing but I have to say the style of gameplay grows on you and eventually becomes more and more enjoyable when new missions are given and new weapons are added. Of course, later on, there are guns which turn the game into a standard shoot em up but even that is just about as fun as combat in GTA.

What really made me get through Manhunt was the atmosphere. The music and sound effects are hella creepy and there are some very scary sequences. This atmosphere combined with the style of gameplay gives it a kind of late 70s early 80s horror movie vibe that I couldn’t get enough off, sigh if I only I had finished the game. This game certainly pissed me off something royal from time to time with its difficulty. The beginning is a little tricky but near the end of the game its just madness with what seems like endless gang members. I gave up with only about two or three scenes left… But that doesn’t mean I won’t pick it up again.

This game can be just as annoying regarding all the predictable missions you’ll get. Naturally, there’s a mission where you have to protect someone, another where you have to save victims without being seen, blah, blah and in the latter stages of the game it gets muddied up as a tired shooter game. So it’s definitely an oddity but I got to give it to the game, it’s unique. The style and graphics still hold up and it’s worth playing if you’re a fan of GTA Check-ch-check-check-check-ch-check it out.