Video game sequels can sometimes be tricky story wise, especially if it’s unplanned. Normally a game will be self-contained. Sequels then create a problem; do you continue with the old story, or do you do something new? Going with the old familiar can seem repetitive and create plot holes, but something new has a risk. Now taking the second option to the extreme would be completely starting anew: keeping relatively the same game play elements and the feel of the first game, but disregarding all previous characters, settings, plots, etc (as if the series was more like an anthology). I bring this up because a review last year, Manhunt, would demonstrate this. At the end, everything is pretty much resolved, but a sequel was indeed made. So let’s book end October with follow up reviews as I now look at Manhunt 2, released on the PS2 and PSP, but I’ll be playing the Nintendo Wii version.
Now in case I wasn’t clear enough, I’m just going to say this directly; the story in Manhunt 2 does not pick-up after Manhunt. There is no mention of James Earl Cash, the director or Pigsy. Their story was pretty much resolved in the last game, so you can play either Manhunt or Manhunt 2 and not miss out.
The game starts off in an insane asylum during an (ominous) lightning storm, when the power goes out. The player character Daniel Lamb wakes up having no memory for why he’s in there. We are then introduced to Leo Kasper, who tells Daniel they’re busting out and guides him to the exit (and for most of the game). Remembering little details and locations, Daniel starts trying to piece together what has happened, but really creates more questions than answers. And… that’s all I really want to say about this plot. The main drive of the game is figuring out what happened to Daniel before the game, who’s involved and how it all went down. We end up having to delve into secret locations of scientific experiments, the murder of Daniel’s family and mind control (hopefully not giving too much away there). The plot twists will drive you to play the next level just to figure out what is going on.
This is a much better plot than Manhunt’s of just being forced to kill for a movie. Here we are shown that Danny has to murder people to get answers, but doesn’t really want to. Also, there is significant symbolism, such as Daniel’s last name being Lamb, a gentle creature, and the name “Leo” is almost synonymous with “Lion”, which is considered a violent animal. All this makes for a well written game.
The gameplay is relatively the same; you’ll spend most of the time sneaking in the shadows waiting for someone to creep in front of you. Once they turn their back, you hold the A button and depending on how long you held the button, you’ll do one of three kinds of death with whatever weapon you choose (each more violent than the next). I have noticed some changes in this though. The most obvious would be the Wii-motion controls; here they make you do the action of whatever kill you’re committing (yeah, I take it some people weren’t happy about this). Also, the motion controls are used to make Daniel swing the respective fist in combat (but with no lefty flip, it’s a kick in the balls to lefties once promised that the Nun-chuck style controller would let them play with the control stick on either side). To end on the subject of the hand to hand combats, I noticed they were a lot easier this time. In the first Manhunt, I would go down if I ever had to go mano a mano, but in this one, I won most of those fights. My theory is they made it easy because 1) it comes up often, and 2) because it makes you just get on with plot.Manhunt 2 took all the violence and improvised murders that were the main element in Manhunt and wrapped it in a much better story. However, this means that the game play might be a little overshadowed, since in the first game the plot was simple enough it made the deaths the main element, so fans of the first game might bit a little disappointed. To make it even worse, every execution is censored by a red, blurry filter (it represents the madness of the moment, but still annoying when that’s one of the main focuses of the game). Also, the graphics are really bad, as I’ve said for Rockstar Games in the past. But still, the suspense and mystery of it all just made me enjoy this game a lot more than its predecessor (though I admit, it could be because I played this one first). I give Manhunt 2 for the Nintendo Wii 9.5 levels out 10.