The original Manhunt was a hunt-or-be-hunted adventure that became a gamer’s delight. The game was difficult; it was violent; the look was edgy and dirty. It was like nothing we had seen before. So, when the sequel was banned in England and other countries, gamers in turn soiled themselves in anticipation.
It’s worth saying that the sequel is inferior to its predecessor. Mainly, the first one had a better story and, since it was a nearly perfect innovation, it would be hard for a sequel to top it. However, as a stand-alone game, it’s pretty good. You play Danny Lamb and his friend Leo as they escape from a mental hospital and go on a quest to find out why Danny was put in the joint to begin with. As Danny and Leo try to solve the mystery, they’re being hunted by the people who committed him.
We had to wait a couple of extra months while the game was edited down from an “Adults Only” rating to an M for mature. And what’s left isn’t exactly tame. Some of the more extreme scenes—the special executions, for example—are blurred by graphic effects and a change to either a black-and-white screen or red screen. You get the idea of what’s going on in these scenes, but you don’t get the whole picture.
But you can still hack the hell out of hunters with axes, cattle prods, circular saws, syringes, shards of glass, baseball bats, bricks, bottles, plastic bags, small farm animals … well, not small farm animals, but you have to leave something for the third installment. Basically, I decapitated a couple of guys in leather fetish masks—once with an ax and once with a manhole cover. I killed another guy with a toilet. What could they have removed that was worse?
According to IGn.com, the only major scene that didn’t make it was a little “berry plucking” with a pair of pliers. According to news reports, the PSP game can be hacked to remove the scene blurs if you’ve got the time, energy and desire. With a little research online, you can find an unedited version of the game. But then you have to modify your system, and I’m not sure it’s ultimately really worth the trouble.
For all of the banning and grandstanding, we’ve pretty much got the original game anyway. It’s not as gruesome in spots, and the edits are annoying, but it doesn’t detract too much from the solid gaming experience. You’ve still got those lethal toilets.
Manhunt 2, $29.99 to $39.99, Rockstar Games, Playstation 2, Wii, PSP
• I love Guitar Hero III. I love it as much as—if not more than—the first three installments (there was an ’80s bonus disc). Whenever I have a little free time, I pick up that little red guitar and put on a show somewhere in the world with my band—Trouser Trout, in case you were wondering. I know it sounds really nerdy to say, but when I play the game, I’m not a gamer; I’m a freakin’ rocker, man. I’ve got moves and faces when I play depending on the song (Primus’ “John the Fisherman” is my favorite of any version).
I never felt ridiculous until I watched the recent South Park episode “Guitar Queer-O.” It featured characters striving to score a million points, and one playing an “acoustic” set in a restaurant and people clapping along. It was hilarious, and it showed the fun absurdity of playing the game as well as the cultural phenomenon it has become. It also made me realize that I will never be a rocker, because you learn absolutely nothing about playing the guitar. But, if Trouser Trout goes double-platinum only in my head, well, that’s OK, too. (Game only: $49.99 to $69.99; Guitar Bundle $89.99 to $159.99, Activision, Wii, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Xbox 360).
• As we all know, Thanksgiving brings a glut of feel-good movies and a couple of extra days to see them. Hitman will not be one of these pictures. I’d been anticipating this movie since it was announced a few years ago—at the time with Vin Diesel planned for the lead. The actual film will feature Deadwood’s Timothy Olyphant, who is a great actor, but I’m not sure what type of Agent 47 he’ll be or what kind of movie it will end up being. The trailer left me little in the way of hope, however. Hitman and all of its sequels are about making your hits as stealthy as possible. But in the clip, stuff is blowing up and 47 is running around like a lunatic. I’ll see it, but I think I’ll play Hitman 2: Silent Assassin before I go, just to remind myself what it’s all supposed to be about.