Manhunt 2 Updated Hands-On

We get a look at two new levels of Rockstar's grimy, gritty adventure game.

Manhunt 2 is the follow-up to the original Manhunt, released on consoles and PCs back in 2003. The original game was a twisted tale filled with violent action, as well as stealthy gameplay, and the follow-up looks to deliver more of the same grisly goods. With all of the controversy that has surrounded Manhunt 2 in the past few weeks, it would be easy to write off the game as another episode of "Rockstar behaving badly." But that wouldn't really be fair to the game, which--as we discovered in a recent hands-on session--is shaping up nicely as an entertaining, if sometimes ultraviolent, tale of redemption.

Nothing says cold-blooded killer like a baby blue polo.

You play as Danny Lam in Manhunt 2, a young doctor who, after some craziness with a privately funded neurological weapons program known as The Project, ends up in the business end of a mental asylum. After a freak power outage, Danny and his buddy Leo manage to escape. Together, they embark on the sometimes ghastly adventures that will help Danny reclaim his past and what's left of his sanity.

Rockstar showed off three of the early levels in the game. The first level, called ghosts, features Danny and Leo looking to sneak into a building that contains drugs Danny stashed away; drugs that will help him "clear his head." However, getting there is a matter of dealing with the watchdogs--masked baddies that are entirely capable and willing to cause you great physical harm. These watchdogs stake out the area but, luckily for Danny, they aren't the brightest of guys. Using the game's stealth mechanics, you can sneak Danny through the shadows, either slipping by the enemies or, more likely, sneaking up on them and blasting them with whatever weapon you can come up with, be it mace, an axe, a syringe, or even a table saw.

A stealth meter on the lower-right corner of the screen gives you an idea of how well hidden you are; if the meter is filled to the top and blue, you won't be seen by a bad guy. But if an enemy is close by and suspects that you are near, a minigame will pop up where you have to keep the Wii Remote and Nunchuk perfectly still, and that ratchets up the tension. A green dot appears onscreen, surrounded by a slightly larger circle; if the dot moves out of the circle based on your movement, you'll be spotted. Whenever an enemy finds you, you'll have two choices: duke it out using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk as analogues for your fists or run like a little girl. If the encounter is one-on-one, you can usually punch your way to freedom. However, if you're getting ganged up on, it's probably a good idea to run (though squealing is optional). If you put enough distance between you and an enemy, you can usually reset the enemy's awareness, giving you enough time to slink back into the shadows where you belong.

After finally making his way to the drug house, Danny has to search all of the trunks and cabinets in the house, looking for his hidden stash. It isn't long before more bad guys show up, and you can take them out using either your weapons or one of Manhunt 2's stylish (and gory) execution-style kills. To pull one off, you simply sneak up behind an enemy and hold the A button; as you hold down the button, an icon appears onscreen that changes colors. The longer you hold it (as the icon changes from white to green to yellow and eventually red), the more ghastly the execution. To do so, you'll follow the onscreen icon indications for how you should move the controls. In response to some of the controversy surrounding the game's brutality, Rockstar has added visual effects that conceal the full visual effect of the violence; for the most part the action is obscured, though you can make out the occasional splatter of blood. While that might disappoint the gorehounds, the gruesome sound effects as your enemy chokes or coughs and wet things go splat on the ground, leave little else to the imagination.

The classic match-up: table saw vs. axe. Our money's on the former.

The next level was an updated version of the "sexual deviants" level we saw in our last look at the game. Here, Danny needs to break into a fetish club (which is a front for a torture lab run by The Project). This time around, the developers at Rockstar Toronto have added more dialogue between Danny and Leo, but the core mechanics are still the same. You'll use your stealth abilities liberally in this level, but there's also some great action (such as the first environmental execution you make, bashing a guy's head into a toilet) and even some darkly humorous bits (like when you use the severed head of an enemy to gain entrance into a deeper part of the torture center).

The other new level being shown was "red light," which requires Danny to gain access to a safe house that happens to be a derelict movie theater on the wrong side of town (though, one might wonder if there is a good part of town in Manhunt 2). This time, instead of watchdogs or burly guys in gimp masks, the enemies lying in wait for you are the Kings, a street gang that has taken over the area and is willing to work over anyone who steps on their turf. This level is more open-ended than either of the previous two, and though you have more latitude when dealing with the Kings, you have the added complication of security lights strewn throughout the level. If you move too quickly in front of them, the lights will activate, giving you fewer shadows in which to hide.

Because Danny is pretty useless when outnumbered, your best bet when dealing with multiple enemies is to pick them off one by one. To do so, you can use objects to create a distraction, such as tossing a brick against the side of a truck or tapping your weapon on a wall. A handy radar screen will show you which enemies are nearby, as well as their alertness level. If they get close enough, you can grab them and go to work. However, you'll want to make sure to stash the bodies because enemies who see their disposed-of friends will go on emergency alert immediately. If you're equipped with a proper weapon, you can take a swing attack at a nearby enemy, first by hugging a wall and then swinging with the Wii Remote.

To gain access to the safe house in the red light level, you'll have to first cut through a wire mesh fence with a pair of pliers you find along the way. After dealing with another wave of bad guys, you make your way into another abandoned building and eventually onto the second-floor ledge, where Danny watches as some cops rough up one of the locals. Using a jump execution attack, Danny quickly deals with the two police and then makes his way into a building that specializes in "adult novelty items." After beating down the proprietor of the sex shop, Danny makes his way onto another ledge and then eventually finds himself in the safe house. This is where Danny immediately finds pictures and reminders of his past. He can only presume he placed them there to remind him of something--but of what? And, furthermore, where should he head next in his continuing quest to reclaim his life?

No doubt about it: Manhunt 2's sense of humor is utterly unique.

The three missions comprise the second, third, and fourth missions in Manhunt 2, respectively. As such, there are lots of tutorial screens to introduce you to the various mechanics and features in the game. As you make your way through the 16 levels, you'll load up with new weapons (including guns, which will become available earlier than in the first Manhunt), fight new enemies, and get embroiled in increasingly disturbing situations. It's true, Manhunt 2 may not be for everyone, but those looking for some seriously creepy atmosphere and gritty action will have plenty to shiver at when the game is released--when else?--on Halloween. Stay tuned for more on the game in the coming weeks.

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237 comments
l8D
l8D

Well...all in all...if you look at a lot of next gen games out there...besides the ones on the wii...people in the market are focusing on the graphics because it's all new technology...SO...game designers want to make a buck and shoot for that....so most game designers focus on less innovation and fun and turn to that good stuff...the green...however hopefully rockstar will stay the same nonetheless and make a great manhunt game once again...it wasn't about the graphics...it was the gameplay, the kills, the dialoge, the thrill. PS2 will have the best of gameplay...and although nintendo does have a more versatile CEO nowadays...there's no telling if there will be a different version for the wii

DJ_Quack_Quack
DJ_Quack_Quack

Ign has three modified execution kills. One red with crowbar, one environmental kill with telephone , and one yellow syringe execution. It seems that yellow and red kills are modified with the blurry effect. But luckily, you can still see the whole execution. But the effect is really crazy to the eyes. The trailers are for the wii version and it showed off how the wii remote works. Now why didn't they integrate the fail execution system if you mess up the motion sensing?? That would've added some challenge.

winwinwe
winwinwe

what do you want me to say. Crappy... well it is though

Brother_Boney
Brother_Boney

I like some of the "philosophy" in this game, namely the aspect that you have to do whatever it takes to survive. I like the run-option. I like the surprise attacks. I love the use enemys head to fool guard. Not because it's gross but because that's probably what one would have to do in that situation. Still, I'm waiting for a game that would be both realistic and offer other options besides violence to survive.

girpav
girpav

I played it for PS2. It`s a great game, but just a bloody action game. It´s not that thrilling and aesthetic as the firsp part.

Poshkidney
Poshkidney

this game will make the wii worth buying

heroofwinds1
heroofwinds1

i think that thanks to the popularity it has got this game is going to be one of the most important games of this year.i believe it will be a great game too and i can not wait to play it.i just hope it comes to europe fast because iam sure a lot of people want to play it too.

xem1900
xem1900

its possible to play the game on ps2 its been "released" on the internet, though its only the whole game in beta version

DJ_Quack_Quack
DJ_Quack_Quack

Sorry to double post but I assume everyone knows there is a leak version of uncensored manhunt 2 for the ps2 on the internet right?

DJ_Quack_Quack
DJ_Quack_Quack

There is only one system that Rockstar can distribute Manhunt 2 uncut version without all this problem about console companies not allowing AO games in their system. PC. Oh god please Rockstar, PLEASE release a Manhunt 2 uncut version on the PC. If stores won't sell AO games, then they can set up a pay and download online thing like steam. PLEASE I WANT THE FULL GORE! >.

solidfisher101
solidfisher101

Yes I have actually, it's a great game but I like it because of the cat and mouse gameplay, the gore is just a little extra icing. I think Manhunt 2 will still be good even with the blurred gore.

majestikk
majestikk

Solidfisher 101 have you even played the original Manhunt? Judgung from your comment I guess you haven't.

fatty5xl
fatty5xl

just wish the wii had more horsepower to make prettier games that just my only gripe

Billybob53
Billybob53

Well i don't know if YOU'VE heard, but here in europe manhunt 2 is not being released on either the ps2 or the wii. Manhunt 2 is going to be released in Holland (Netherlands) as the only PAL release, and this is only going to be on PC as nintendo and sony have said they dont want that kind of game on their consoles.

Link_Destined_1
Link_Destined_1

A Rockstar game, on MY Wii? Thank you, Conker's Bad Fur Day and Resident Evil 4. If it wasn't for you, we'd never get M-rated games on Nintendo systems. I suspect this will be pretty awesome. If I wasn't so damn squeamish, I'd probably buy this if it actually IS good. And by the way, WHO CARES ABOUT GRAPHICS?! They're nice, but give me good gameplay, please. I bet the PS2 version is going to be grittier, and have more swearing than the Wii version, though.

fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

thestickman
thestickman

Xtreme_PK: I hope you're being sarcastic because if not, what rock have YOU been living under?? This game has been announced for the Playstation 2 and the Wii from the very beginning, and nothing's changed that. The Wii release is set for the same day as the PS2 version, and even the official website has the Wii logo at the bottom... And the Wii version will actually be the one I'll be purchasing. Can't wait.

darklurker1
darklurker1

Xtreme_PK: yes it is coming out on the wii. It will be on the PS2 and the Wii. I don't know where you got the idea that it wasn't. Oh and probably the reason why Rockstar chose to make Manhunt 2 on the Wii and PS2 is that a) theres a massive install base and b) the lack of HD grahpics will allow them to get away with more brutal killings. Although I agree this game would be amazing on a PC or 360.

Jib_Ju_Bo
Jib_Ju_Bo

The graphics may not look so good but this game is still, without a doubt, going to be awesome.

Xtreme_PK
Xtreme_PK

Kbaily, it isnt coming out for the Wii. unless you've lieved under a rock, its not going to be on the wii

kbaily
kbaily

I sick of listening to whining about Wii graphics. You're beating a dead horse. I figured you all would be greatful for an M rated game on the system that wasn't going to suck. It's not like there aren't other bloody gory games on the 360 and PS3.

ibanezdropd
ibanezdropd

the graphics, or i guess the characters design looks dated. Low polygo count on the character models

foola12
foola12

Graphics look really bad. they could have been so much better.

Sam_Lowery
Sam_Lowery

I wish they would release this on 360.

SpazH3d
SpazH3d

PC or 360 port please! What the hell is rockstar thinking.

Judah6
Judah6

I can't what for this gotdamn game to come out this game is really going to add more mature titles to the Wii

fatafreak
fatafreak

looks really fun i want that so bad

jak_x_fan
jak_x_fan

hopefully Holland and Belgium will get the uncensord game

blightfear
blightfear

Damn the censorship! I knew it was going to happen but i'm still pissed about it! Well playing it with the gore reuced is better then not playing it at all i suppose. I hope that i can import a non consored version, if they get released in those parts of europe.

solidfisher101
solidfisher101

Why is everyone complaining about the toned down death scenes? Are we really at the point where a game HAS to have a ton of blood and gore in order for it to be good? Enjoy the game for what it is.

Herbs84
Herbs84

Censoring is pathetic. If you don't like a form of media don't watch/play/read it. If you don't want your kids to watch/read/play it then YOU stop them, don't complain and get the product banned. That is all.

Issachar
Issachar

Passion of the Christ was the most violent movie ive ever seen and it didnt get nc-17. maybe make the manhunter jesus to duck the rating...

Unknown_Legend
Unknown_Legend

Hostel 1 & 2, Saw 1,2,& 3 all got R ratings and not NC-17, when they have more gore ythan anything youv'e seen, and the gore is pointless, I'm sure Manhunt 2 wasn't no where near as bad as that. It just goes to show you how games still get treated unfairly.

danthegamer32
danthegamer32

So, is it coming out in the u.k. at all then?

Corvin
Corvin

Blurred out gore = not even worth a rental.

catsimboy
catsimboy

It's weird they have to censor it like they did "The Punisher". Perhaps if this were made by another game developer that is under the radar it wouldn't be a problem since the original Manhunt had the gore intact. It'd be great if they made a PC version (Wii controls be damned) so people could mod the gore back in.

starwarsyoda
starwarsyoda

there was no head in there. it was just a mask. it sucks that they cut the gore down, but it was just ahead of its time. when the first alien came out people were throwing up and running out of the theater for the chest burster scene. it got banned but now it really isnt that bad.

Messer_Partei
Messer_Partei

I can't believe they degored it...The head doesn't even drip blood. Movies are so much more violent at times and even some games do, but rockstar is the marilyn manson of games. The ignorant politicians need to hound someone and rockstar is the only one they really know...

shoeman12
shoeman12

they cut out too much violence and gore.

greystone227
greystone227

Hmmm, that kind of sucks that they had to blur stuff. But when you think about it, what else could they do? I mean, it was either cut out some stuff or not sell the game (at least not on consoles). Unless they wanted to take another year to redo a whole bunch of content, at which point everyone would have forgotten about the game, I suppose this was really their only option.

linkyshinks
linkyshinks

We in europe are importing the game from Holland where it is uncut. Why is this game llisted as canceled still?, you guys are getting it now.

KMJRoche
KMJRoche

I WAS HOPING THAT JAMES EARL CASH WOULD HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE NEW 1 BUT I GUESS THEY WOULDHAVE SAID IT

jdiego82
jdiego82

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

bondgod
bondgod

Well, this has gone from my most anticipated game to a shadow of its former self. I wouldn't have minded the gore being toned down, but obscuring the screen in darkness pretty much makes playing this redundant. Nice one ERSB.

PoisedYeti
PoisedYeti

i don't get the difference between me saying ' i tore a guy's head off and stamped on it' and it being depicted in a videogame or television (which also isn't reality) but maybe i just have mental disorder :)

tootiejeans
tootiejeans

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

tootiejeans
tootiejeans

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]