Manhunt and SHOCKING games

Last Thursday’s post was cancelled for two reasons. The first was that I was in Halifax, and therefore on vacation from my own summer vacation. The second was that my plans to see Star Trek fell through, so I was left without a topic to talk about. I was productive while in Halifax though, check out annexd.com to see what I was up to.

I haven’t seen Drag Me to Hell yet, but I’m supposed to do that tomorrow. If I feel strongly about it one way or the other, it will most likely be the topic of Thursday’s post. Today we’re gonna talk about Manhunt and briefly touch on some of my favorite “shocking” games.

I’m not a huge GTA fan, though I occasionally get a kick out of driving around and blowing shit up. A while back the controversy creating studios that made GTA put out a game called Manhunt. Predictably, the media went nuts over the game’s brutal level of violence. I never played the game until recently, shrugging it off as another Rockstar game that thrives on media attention and is really just mediocre at best.

I played Manhunt though, and y’know what… it’s not bad from a gameplay perspective. It’s kind of like a more horror based stealth game. The stealth part is simplified when compared to something like Splinter Cell or Thief, but it’s still satisfying and challenging. You sneak around from shadow to shadow and have to elude (and often kill) groups of thugs that are out to get you.

When you sneak up and go for the kill, the longer you lurk behind the enemy, the more violent the kill animation is. You get more points for the more extreme kills, because you need to be in the open longer in order to perform them. This system is a little gimmicky, totally encouraging the spectacle of it all. Some of the kills are really brutal, there’s no way around it. It will attract the gorehounds of video gaming the same way that the Guinea Pig movies will attract movie watching sickos. The difference is that underneath there is a good game in Manhunt… to a certain degree.

I’m not saying the game is absolutely genius or anything, but that the hype (both the hype the game intended and the hype that it did not) skewed everyone’s opinion of it… including mine. Pretty much everything about this game, from the gameplay to the writing to the voice acting, is better than I thought it would be.

I’m not even going to throw in a rant about violent video games being good or bad or inconsequential. Regardless of where you fall in that argument, it’s easy to think that a bloody game that generates tons of controversy is built to do just that, without any real fun factor or value outside of the wrongness of it all. When it comes to how people perceive their hobby, the gaming community tends to point to games like Manhunt as part of the problem, instead of playing it for themselves and defending it.

It is illegal to own the game in several countries. It deserves your defense.

One last thought… if goddamn Funny Games can achieve critical acclaim as a “violent movie about violence”, why can’t we one day have our “violent game about violent games” ? Maybe we need to look a little harder at stuff like Killer 7, Carmageddon, and Postal 2 to make sure we haven’t already.


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