So I finally got around to playing this game years after the controversy. I remember years ago probably sometime around 2007 or perhaps 2008 there was a gameinformer article about most terrifying boss fights or something like that and Manhunt's boss was on the list, describing the boss as a naked guy wearing a pig mask chasing you with a chainsaw. I then remember hearing controversy about this being the most violent game of all time and quite frankly the idea of this game even scared me back then, I was barely allowed to play rated M games and my parents would have killed me if I touched a game like this that revolved around murdering people in gruesome ways, and no I don't think they would kill me by putting a plastic bag over my head or strangling me with a wire, it would be in a non ironic way. Anyway what I'm trying to get at is years later there was a huge Rock Star sale on Playstion, in fact it was just last year where all the Rock Star games GTA, Bully, and this were on sale for like only $2.50 a piece. I couldn't pass this up for only $2.50 and decided to finally check this out after all the controversy. I've always sort of been a horror game fan since my friend introduced me to Resident Evil back in 2007, and I thought even if it does suck at least not much money was wasted. Well months go by and I play a ton of other games, and finally get around to this when I about run out of games to play, and let's just say it's one of those games I had to dedicate some time to start appreciating.
I'll admit when I first started Manhunt it felt a bit clunky, the controls are a bit dated, the camera is pretty bad, your character moves slow as hell when he's sneaking, and most of all the missions felt a bit repetitive, on the 3rd mission I was already wondering when the game would start changing things up, it was pretty much sneak into shadows, wait for bad guy to get close, sneak behind, kill, and then rinse and repeat until all the guys in the area were dead and move on to next area for the same thing. Well the game does get better as you move on, some of the stages are designed unique where you can't just hide in shadows and expect enemies to come to you, they require strategy, sometimes you even need to play risky and alert enemies to your presence. Once the levels started have more interesting design the game started becoming more interesting, then of course the game gives you guns and thats where the game starts to loose some of its fun factor. I'll admit I played the game on hardcore and that may be why I had a little trouble with the shootout segments, but the point is the game forces you in certain segments to use guns to engage enemies in shootouts, which just feels out of place in a game about stealth and hiding. You die fairly easily as well, so if you're not quick to kill the enemies in these segments you'll most likely be killed. Near the end of the game the enemies become super powerful and can kill you in a split second if you don't react quick. It was at this point I really started missing the stealth segments but they did return, to be honest I'd say the game's about 80% stealth, 20% shooter and some missions give you an option if you want to shoot or stealth.
Now for graphics, they are decent, considering this is a 2003 game, they look about what I'd expect a game from 2003 to look like, and its' Rock Star, I don't think Rock Star has ever been lacking in the graphics department. The game's soundtrack is pretty soft and more atmospheric background music, but is a bit haunting. I will praise the game's atmosphere, it does have a pretty creepy vibe going throughout, and you truly do get a sense of isolation and being one man trying to survive in a huge city of psychos trying to kills you.
In terms of replayability there are a few things. You can unlock bonus missions by getting 3 stars on previous missions. However there really isn't much to do, once you've beaten all the missions replaying them just isn't as interesting once you know how to approach the missions and the game is around average length, I beat it in around 15 hours on hardcore, and I was being pretty careful and taking it slow.
So overall I'd say the pros outweigh the cons, the stealth is pretty basic and its fun to create strategies to take all the enemies in each area out. Sure the game does suffer from a couple of control issues, the shooting controls were relatively difficult to get a grasp on, and the camera just feels like it limits your visibility to scope enemies out, and on top of that sometimes I found certain segments where it was near impossible to sneak due to the amount of enemies clustered together so I had to alert them by killing a guy in front of them then run to another dark area. Still, for what it's worth Rock Star did a good job with this game and with some minor polishing could have been great.
Solid Stealth Mechanics
AI is relatively smart
Story length is solid
Camera is a bit awkward and limited in view
Taking cover behind objects felt difficult to do
Controls were slightly awkward
A bit repetitive in terms of mission objectives and strategy
Storyline was pretty minimal and underdeveloped