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Manhunt PC CD-ROM

Published by Rockstar Games
Developed by Rockstar North
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99
Age Rating: BBFC 18+

Late last year we looked at Manhunt on the PlayStation 2 and now the game has arrived on PC. Rockstar Games have been at the forefront of providing games for an adult audience, most noticeably with the Grand Theft Auto series, but Manhunt is something entirely different. The game is a sinister one as the character you control chalks up victims (who are undesirable thugs) like there's no tomorrow. Indeed to some it may seem too much to stomach but you have to remember that the game is 18 rated and that it is intentionally pitched at adult gamers.

Manhunt placed you in the role of a psychotic killer, James Earl Cash, who supposedly was executed for his crimes at the beginning of the game. However there is corruption at the Darkwoods Penitentiary and Cash's lethal injection was no more than a strong sedative. The person who wanted Cash kept alive is Lionel Starkweather the disgraced Hollywood director. Starkweather wants Cash to be the star of his latest 'video nasty'. As Cash awakens from the effects of his sedative he's greeted by the voice of Starkweather who instructs him to pick up the earpiece and follow his orders and with that the game begins.

Of course Manhunt isn't the first game that puts you in the role of a murderer. Another game that readily springs to mind is Hitman (and it's various sequels). The big difference between Hitman and Manhunt though is that Agent 47 uses refined weapons of destruction such as guns and piano wire etc. that get the job done as quickly and as effectively as possible whereas Cash has no such luck and has to make use of crude weapons such as a plastic bag, a glass shard, a baseball bat, a cleaver and even a chainsaw. Of course the methods that Cash has to employ do not provide instantaneous death and the victims will suffer distress in the process.

The real twist with the game play in Manhunt is that you can't simply run and attack your victims as more often than not this will get you killed in no time. Stealth is your friend in Manhunt and the element of surprise will allow you to take out enemies, that are much stronger than yourself, far more efficiently. In fact if you time it right you'll trigger a small cutscene of Cash committing the murder and you won't have to engage in combat. Get your timing wrong though and you'll have to engage in face to face combat, which means that you're going to get hurt and more often than not killed. However, with the PC version it seems slightly easier to take your enemies out in this way. There are times where stealth isn't an option though and you'll have to take your enemies on. Thankfully you can strafe from side to side so even if you are faced with a stronger enemy it's still possible to survive the battle. After being involved in such savage encounters your health is going to be depleted and you'll have to search for painkillers in order to restore your health.

Graphically the PC version is slightly superior to both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of Manhunt with its sharper character details due to the increased resolution at which the game can be run. By default both the noise filter and the cutscene filter (which makes the cutscenes look like they are being watched over CCTV) are switched on but you can disable them if you want a cleaner look to the game. Whilst the PC version is essentially identical to the console versions of the game, it does afford you a rather nice advantage. Looking around on the console versions switches you to a first person view and using the 'X' button you can do the very same thing on the PC version. However, you can also use the mouse to look around and this gives you a more elevated look around your immediate area and actually makes the game slightly easier too. Visually, in keeping with the games content, we have a game that has a dark and dangerous look to it and suits the mood of the game perfectly. Most locations are dimly lit and designed to create a tense and horrific environment. The quality of the character models and animations is good but isn't outstanding in any particular way. There are some nice rag doll physics in use though and it gives the murders an even more realistic look. The cutscenes are particularly impressive and are actually quite realistic in their style and presentation whilst also managing to add to the macabre nature of the game.

Subtitles can be enabled, which makes the game perfectly playable for deaf gamers. Not all comments during the game are subtitled (like the odd sentence that your intended victims may utter for instance) but all the essential information is. A radar on the bottom left of the screen shows enemies that are within your immediate vicinity. You are also represented on this radar too and any noise that you make will cause a red circle to radiate from your dot on the radar. This is great as it allows you to see what noise you are making. Of course at times you'll want to make a noise in order to lure enemies towards your position and you'll be able to do this with no fuss at all thanks to your noise being visibly depicted. When attempting to take your victims by surprise, small markers will appear around them to indicate that you can make that 'surprise kill', which again is very helpful. On the lower right of the screen is a character icon that will turn blue once you are well hidden or red when you can be seen. This character icon will also show you when an item can be used, which is rather useful.

The PC version of Manhunt is easily the best version of the game. The game itself is identical but the graphics look better, the loading times are much faster than the PlayStation 2 version and the Xbox version. The way you can 'mouse look' around is also a lot more comfortable than the standard first person look that the console versions of the game are stuck with. All too often we see a game arrive on the PC after being initially released on the PlayStation 2 and the result is often a disappointment but that's not the case with Manhunt, as it looks good and performs very smoothly. It could be argued that taking out the thugs can get repetitive but the game manages to remain tense and immersive throughout which is something that can't be said for most games. If you didn't pick up the PlayStation 2 version last year and have a decent PC then this is the version to buy.

Overall Game Rating: 8.3/10
Without a doubt the PC version of Manhunt is the best of the lot and if you don't already have the game it's the one to go for.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Some speech is not subtitled but all of the important information is. Rockstar have made good use of icons within the game.