Previews// Manhunt 2

Yes and also, while we are at it, let’s ban spoons

Posted 4 May 2007 18:30 by
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Rockstar is at it again. Baiting the tabloids/moral minority with the follow-up to what was billed as one of the most violent, notorious and opinion-dividing games of recent years. Manhunt 2 launches on PS2, PSP and Wii this summer and will, no doubt, be launched amid yet another shitstorm of controversy stirred up by mainstream hacks who have never actually played a videogame, let alone had a good look at Rockstar’s latest psycho-killer.

I managed to get a good look at a preview build of the game at Rockstar’s London offices recently, so read on to find out whether or not the game justifies the hype. Oh, and if you are of a nervous disposition and/or you are an anti-videogaming lawyer/Labour MP and your name is an anagram of “Smack John Top” or “Zit Ah Kev“ (I can't bring myself to say the names right now) then you might want to go and take 10mg of valium right now. And wait ten minutes or so before you read on.

The first Manhunt is, unfortunately, more well-known for the tabloid reactions to the extreme, over-the-top in-game violence, instead of whether or not it stood up as a decent videogame. Critical reception amid the gaming press was mixed. Some said that the game was sheer tongue-in-cheek horror schlock and should be judged as such, while others criticised the game for being all ‘gore over gameplay’. The “immoral majority’s” liberal opinion (again mainly from commentators who had rarely even seen or played the game) was generally a shrug of the shoulders and a “whatever floats your boat!”

However, the game was still banned in a number of countries and, worst of all, linked to the murder of British teenager Stefan Pakeerah. And even though the police have denied any connection in that particular tragic case (in fact, it turned out the game was owned by the victim of that crime and not the perpetrator) the follow-up is going to find it hard to shake the ‘violence for violence sake’ tag of the first game.

“Ban this evil game!” cried a Daily Mail headline at the time. “Yes and also, while we are at it, let’s ban spoons, which can also be lethal in the wrong hands,” replied some wag on the Daily Mail’s own forum at the time, which tickled this particular SPOnG reviewer. I still feel that comment sums up the hypocrisy and hyperbole over the whole ‘violence in videogames debate’ better than no other.

So watch out for the almost inevitable tabloid outcry when the game is released later this summer (“call Labour MP, Zit Ah Kev, get him to say something about violence and games,” we can already hear the tabloid news editor shouting…) With that in mind, of particular interest is the fact that, as well as PSP and the PS2 version we saw at Rockstar recently, the game is also coming out on Nintendo’s family-friendly Wii. No doubt this is bound to wind up the player-haters over at the Daily Mail to a new level of “oh-my-lord-whatever-next-ness”

Whatever. Let’s have a look at the game. Let’s concern ourselves here with the main thing that should matter. Does the game work as a piece of adult interactive entertainment or not?

Rockstar’s PJ Sim – the man charged with demo’ing the game - explained to me that the game is not a straightforward sequel to the first game, instead it is more, if you like, “a spiritual sequel” with the player this time around taking on the character of Dr Daniel Lamb – a Gordon Freeman-esque nerdy scientist character who seems to have been banged up in a mental asylum for a number of years – for reasons that will no doubt be made clear later in the game as the storyline develops.
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Comments

headcasephil 5 May 2007 18:33
1/11
cant wait for this on the wii all i can say is they say nintendo is for kids I DONT THINK SO !!!
Bob Fossil 5 May 2007 21:06
2/11
Meh... may as well go and read American Psycho and have done with it IMHO... this game sounds W.A.N.K.
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JimmyDeansZombieCousin 6 May 2007 23:27
3/11
Poorly written preview. It seems like he just played the game for the gore and not the actual story or game play surrounding the brutal killings. By the looks of it, he probably didn't like the first one either, and probably for those same reasons.
spongsucks 7 May 2007 02:48
4/11
yeah whoever wrote this must be quite a pussy
zoydwheeler 8 May 2007 11:23
5/11
I wrote it. And I assure you I'm not 'a pussy', just a fan of good games. And I'm usually a big fan of Rockstar's games. I loved Table Tennis and GTA IV is up there in my most-wanted for later in 2007.

My honest opinion about Manhunt 2 - based on being shown the few opening levels of the game - is that I feel that this game is far too much (gory) style over (gameplay) substance.

The kill animations/environmental kills really are incredibly gory, but the sneaking about in dark corridors stuff that you have to do in-between these 'cool bits' just seemed to me to be a bit boring.

mrben43 8 May 2007 12:11
6/11
I wonder... should a line ever be drawn regarding videogame content, and if so where should it be drawn?
zoydwheeler 8 May 2007 12:30
7/11
No. That's like saying - should a line be drawn in music, literature, comics etc. etc.? i.e. "When should we censor stuff?"

All censorship is bad, if we don't like something then we have to formulate reasoned arguments as to why we don't like it.

If the game/song/book/comic contains gratuitously violent/sexual/adult content - then it really has to be judged on its own merits. Does it work as a game/song/book/comic?

In this case, in my opinion, Manhunt 2 (ab)uses its ultra-violent content - as it seems to be way too much of the focus of the game - at the expense of more-involving gameplay and an interesting storyline and so on.

You might compare it with, say, Clockwork Orange - which (in its day) was hugely controversial for the sexual and violent content. And hence banned for years. But, in my opinion, it worked as a film.

Of course, as responsible adults we have a duty to protect children from sexual/violent/adult material which could be deemed offensive - but that is a slightly different debate.
mrben43 8 May 2007 18:17
8/11
I don't know...

What if Rockstar's next game was a paedophile sim involving the rape and murder of little children? Wouldn't we all feel profoundly uncomfortable with that, even if it were a well made game?

I am a bit worried by the things we choose to entertain ourselves with.
Tim Smith 10 May 2007 14:33
9/11
mrben43 wrote:
I don't know...What if Rockstar's next game was a paedophile sim involving the rape and murder of little children? Wouldn't we all feel profoundly uncomfortable with that, even if it were a well made game?


I have a feeling that Rockstar would rapidly go out of business having seen all its staff lynched in the streets by the general public or by Take-Two's stockholders as the game would simply not sell.

I get what you're saying in terms of thin ends and wedges, however, I tend to refer to prosecution counsel Mervyn Griffith-Jones in the Lady Chatterley's Lover trial when he asked, "Is it a book you would wish your wife or servants to read?"

Who are we protecting from what and why? The same culture that rants about games content destroying children is producing corporations that charge for water (Cochabamba) - the lack of which human staple kills exponentially more children than any game is ever likely to.

We've got to engage with the real question which is that any people gets the culture it desires.

mrben43 wrote:
I am a bit worried by the things we choose to entertain ourselves with.


Absolutely, in the first case, don't buy it. In the second case, come up with a better idea for a game or book or TV show.
Richard 11 May 2007 09:20
10/11
You don't have to defend the game just because Keith Vaz will attack it.

As long as you believe that violence in games does not cause violence in the real world, then violent games are worth defending if they are good games. But why bother to defend bad games?
WIISucks... 20 Jun 2007 19:05
11/11

Posted by phil cort
cant wait for this on the wii all i can say is they say nintendo is for kids I DONT THINK SO !!!


Er, no your right - it's just the graphics are complete garbage on the WII plus it sounds like something you'd do in a toilet...
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