The story casts the player as a death row inmate forced to fight for his life in an illegal snuff film, with a vicious Director instructing his every move. Vastly outnumbered and outgunned, he must discreetly yet bloodily terminate his foes by surprise, using baseball bat, shotgun or suffocation bag for the kill.
The game encourages you to turn off all the lights and close the blinds, and it’s not a bad idea; this is an atmospheric mood piece, with gritty streets, shakicam action and nervous shifts in perspective. It’s definitely a change from the blow-it-all-to-hell action of the Grand Theft Auto games; the play calls for constant discretion and sneakiness. Screw up even once and a half dozen bad guys beat you into paste.
Brian Cox (the great villainous actor behind X2 and the original Hannibal Lecter) indulges in delirious sadism as the voice of The Director manipulating the story and screaming, “Slit his throat! Yes! YES!” with nearly sexual glee.
The graphics are quite solid, though they clearly show the sagging architecture of the PS2’s graphics engine.
Manhunt is not for everyone, and not just because of the violence. Those looking for Grade-A bang-bang will find the pace excruciatingly boring. Those looking for a precision and clockwork experience will find quite a bit to like.