Justin revisits a violent PS2 favorite. Manhunt gets up close and personal with some nasty gang members and some nasty camera controls. Whatever the result it is probably Brian Cox's fault.
Previous Memories of Manhunt
- It's really slow, but brutally fun.
- You can make noise with your microphone to attract the attention of enemies.
- Brian Cox is super creepy.
- You're making a snuff film.
- Once they introduced guns, the game got really hard, and I quit.
- It didn't seem like a Rockstar game.
Replay Expectations, Hopes, Dreams, Fears
- The graphics would be blurry and would interfere in the gameplay.
- The controls would suck and I would die a lot.
- It would be too slow paced and boring.
- The action wouldn't have any payoff because the older graphics/animation would look terrible.
- I would ruin my nostalgic memory of Manhunt.
What actually happened
Playing a game purely off of nostalgia is a risky proposition. Manhunt actually overcame a tough hurdle with me in that I was patient enough to learn how to play it all over again. It took me about an hour to get used to the controls before the manhunting started clicking. Usually with older games, if it at all gets in the way to the immediate flashbacks I came back for, I will walk away pretty quickly. I found that I wanted to learn how to play Manhunt again, though. I wanted to see if I still liked it.
It turns out that I still really like Manhunt. Even its quirks feel a bit deliberate so I don't hold them against the game as faults. I don't enjoy fighting groups of enemies, but sneaking up on a really tough looking gang member and taking him out in gory glory always makes me want to do it again. As my first PS2 rerelease on PS4, it exceeded my expectations with its steady performance, higher resolution graphics, and I swear the audio was so crips it almost sounded like it had been rerecorded.
I don't think Manhunt will win any new fans, and I don't think it was ever meant for a large fan base. I enjoy hyper violence in my video games when it exists with a reason or purpose. While I'm not sure which came first, the murder gameplay or the premise the supports it, the overall package works for me. I don't attach myself to the actions of the main character, James Earl Cash. I play Manhunt almost like a puzzle game. I just want to find the most interesting way out of the room that I'm trapped in and get the most points for it. In that design, Manhunt has stood the test of time. I'd go so far as to say I'd like to see Rockstar remake Manhunt. All they really need to update is smarter AI and retouch the level design to address pacing issues. I could care less about updated graphics as I'm not here for the realistic executions, but that's also why we won't get another Manhunt game.
The audience for Manhunt is just too small. There are better stealth games, and there are faster (and bloodier) action games. That game design in the middle of those two extremes is going to be boring to a lot of people. To make that game "not boring" to more players Rockstar had to find an edge, and that was the execution scenes. There's a lot more to Manhunt than executions, but at the same time, it's the only reason any of us knew what the game was to start playing it in the first place. It's just too bad that its notorious selling point held it back from being taken more seriously. Manhunt is still one of my favorite all-time favorite stealth games.
Will I keep playing?
Absolutely. I don't know if I will finish it, but I want to figure out where I stopped previously and see if I can't at least break through that particular barrier. I'm hoping that I have a fresher perspective on the controls and the limitations that happen once projectile weapons are introduced into the game so that I'm more patient. I'm really glad that Manhunt is easy to pick up and play on a modern console now.