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SummaryExcellent if you can stomach the content
The GoodThe concept and story were absolutely superb. The music keeps up a constant tension that cannot be ignored and the outright explosions of graphic violence on screen can be as horrifying as they are thrilling and heart-pounding. Nothing compares to sneaking around in the dark corners, making fools of your enemies before you literally eviscerate them.
Now, as you read, you might be turning your nose up in disgust. That's the whole point of this game. Rockstar pushed this game out as a kind of social question: what will you allow? There is no way to avoid the dark, gritty story that glorifies violence as you literally work to create a gruesome snuff film in the game. If you enjoy every minute of the murders, you are pointed out by Rockstar as taking part in the dark underlining of humanity. If you abhor the violence, you are still taking part in that dark underside since you're simply ignoring the plight of these disturbed individuals.
A damned if you do, damned if you don't type of story. The controls are simple and easy to learn and the camera keeps the feeling throughout that you are simply watching a homemade slasher flick, complete with TV static and tape noise.
The BadThere are only three kinds of attacks for each weapon, which can drain the excitement of the killings about halfway into the game. More variety would have been excellent. The voice acting can vary from superb to downright laughable (as in the case of some of your enemies) but you would never want to mute the audio since the bad moments are few and far between. The tutorial level is also lacking, as it doesn't detail how to actually play the most important part of the game: stealth kills, so the first few levels you may find yourself brawling it out with chumps instead of sneaking around in the dark like Rockstar intended. A minor gripe, fixed simply by reading the playing manual carefully.
Also, the extreme violence and horrifyingly mature content will alienate some players. That's just fine though. If the gore freaks you out, then Rockstar has done its job well of terrifying you. If you aren't bothered by violence of the extreme adult themes, then sit back, relax and prepare to be frightened until you crap your pants.
The Bottom LineLike I already said, it's not for everyone. But those of you who enjoyed Grand Theft Auto or, especially the Splinter Cell games should find this game not only scary and disturbed, but an excellent play that will frighten and disturb your dreams. Rockstar has made many controversial games in the past and I doubt Manhunt will ever be replaced as the uniquely depraved game that it is. It is not only a nonstop ride of fear-drenched tension but a smart social commentary on the nature of violent media. And let me say this last: the final level terrified me in ways that no other game has managed to do.
Shut off the lights, turn up the sound, and get ready to KILL!