Sierra's first attempt at an arcade/adventure hybrid fails
Back in the Nineties, I was introduced to this game. I loved Sierra adventure games (and still do), but little did I know that Manhunter: New York
wasn't just an adventure game. I looked up his game on MobyGames to read the already approved reviews, and while I was at it, I happened to browse the back cover where Sierra claimed that the game is a “twist on contemporary adventure games”. I should have known what to expect.
The good thing about the game is the cyberpunk storyline tat was common in films such as Blade Runner
. In the early 21st century, alien Orbs invade New York City, and with their arrival, came a new form of dictatorship. Brown robes must be worn at all times, speaking is now an offense, and every human has been implanted with a chip that allows the Orbs to monitor their movements. They select a small number to become “Manhunters”, humans given access to advanced technology and selected to be a combination of police officers and bounty hunters.
If I'm not mistaken, Manhunter
reminds me of a game that was released around its time called Mean Streets
. You see, you are equipped with the Manhunter Assignment Device, or MAD for short, which lets you look up names of anyone and track their movements through the city. This is essential in getting further into the game, as tracking each suspect or finding out about a person, using their ID card as a source, reveals locations that you have not yet visited.
Another feature that makes the game share with Mean Streets
is that regardless of where you go, the sky is a burn-red color as the game is set in a post-apocalyptic world – much like the games in the Tex Murphy series
The majority of Manhunter involves investigating crime scenes at several locations, to see if there is anything unusual about the scene that you are in. More often than not, you will find a dead corpse lying on a table. You can see up a close-up view of a corpse. Most of the locations – including Bellevue Hospital and the Empire State building - are based on their real-life, New York counterparts.
is laid out as if it is Sierra's first point-and-click adventure ever. Unfortunately, their attempt falls short. Movement is done by moving the arrow keys, and actions are performed by pressing Enter. I find this a waste of time. Furthermore, since games like King's Quest IV
and Leisure Suit Larry 2 have already moved to Sierra's new SCI engine, Manhunter's AGI engine looks outdated compared to these two games. Why can't Sierra have waited until 1990 to release the game, so that the game looks much better than it is now?
Tracking a suspect's movements throughout a city requires the game to zoom in as they go inside buildings, and zoom back out when they leave. The problem is that the game displays a poor attempt at it. All the game does is display “Zooming in...” or “Zooming out...”. I have seen better attempts at zooming techniques in Gold Rush where you are making your way to California, and that was created by the same company.
Having already played Rise of the Dragon and The Adventures of Willy Beamish, I admit that I don't mind playing mini-games in these adventure games, as long as they are easy. Mini games are introduced in Manhunter, but nearly all of them are ridiculous and unnecessary, and they only distract the player from their purpose. The first game, for instance, required you to map out the structure of an arcade game so that you can use it to navigate the sewers later on. A dialog box allowing you to skip or play the mini-game wouldn't have hurt.
The Bottom LineFOR
Realistic locations set in a post-apocalyptic future
Humorous crime scenes
No typing required in an AGI game
Poor zooming techniques
Game's engine could have been much better