Almost as a big middle finger to all the controversy that was caused by another Rockstar Game (GTAIII and Vice City), the company again pushes the envelope of violence in video games with Manhunt. This is gratuitous violence, over the top all the way, and proving that’s exactly what many people want in their video games.
The story line is a loose rip of “The Running Man” whereas your character is repeatedly placed in environments teaming with brutal sociopath gangs bent on your quick demise. All the while, your ‘host’ is recording your kills to be broadcast as some kind of sick snuff TV show. While much of the game play is centered on stealth and hiding in shadows, the goal is to dispose of as many bad guys, in the most brutal ways possible.
The game starts a bit pedestrian: Sneak in the shadows, find a crude weapon (plastic bag, glass shard, meat cleaver, etc) and dispatch the bad guys. The longer you can hold in a kill position, the more brutal the kill. When kills are ‘executed’, the game cuts to a video screen display that exhibits the incredibly violent kills. You gotta love the repeated jabbing of a glass shard into an enemies eyes, or the sickening splat of brains against a wall with a follow through on a baseball bat. It’s about as violent as it gets in a video game. Luckily, the levels also present some stealth challenge and emphasis on smart game play so the experience doesn’t just turn into a blood fest for the sake of gore (although, there is never any lack of that here).
Success often depends on a bit of discretion. Some foul and amusing language is constantly spewing from your enemies which fills out the offensive content. Basically, a sick game for sick people. Or people with a sense of humor.
Honestly, this is a poster child for the fight against video game violence and content, and Munhunt doesn’t apologize at all for it. In fact, it almost seems like this game is intentionally trying to attract some of that negative publicity cause all that accomplishes are increased sales. Luckily, Rockstar keeps up its most excellent track record and produces a fun game that just happens to excel in the ultra-violence most video gamers love.