Rockstar Games is pretty much bullet-proof. Other than State of Emergency and Manhunt 2, Rockstar has made awesome games. Great games with really in-depth stories. Grand Theft Auto had been the first word that you thought of upon hearing the name "Rockstar Games" But when Manhunt got announced, people lost their shit. Lost. Their. SHIT!
At the time, Manhunt was the most graphically violent game that had ever been released. Stabbing someone in the eye with broken glass? Cutting a gang member's nuts with a sickle? Yeah, it was pretty serious business. Couple that with a story that was sadistic and dark. Underground snuff films aren't usually a backdrop for most games. Couple that with a main character that wasn't very sympathetic and you have a really heavy game to get through. People seemed to only focus on the violence, not seeing beyond it.
It was a hybrid stealth/action game with odd pacing, but a really creepy atmosphere and some of the best characters you've ever played against. The Director aka Starkweather is one of the best video game villains ever. On top of being an overall scumbag, Rockstar's innovative use of the gaming headset was groundbreaking moment in gaming that no one has done since. Starkweather would instruct you on what to do, who to kill and where to take the thing you took of the guy you just killed. All in a breaking the fourth wall type way, talking in your ear and taunting you with all the bad things you're doing and dangling freedom's carrot in front of you the whole time.
The gritty feel of the game was added by a grainy film grade that lays over the screen like black drapes. And the security camera executions made the killing more brutal. The gangs say some of the most awful things to you. Sometimes, almost making me want to run out and kill them quickly, before I remember that they outnumber me by about 4 to 1. The feel is very 80's horror movie and is legitimately scary at times.
The headset was also used in gameplay. In the stealth parts, enemies can hear your footsteps and any noise that you make. Including any sounds that you make into your gaming headset. The fright I had when my future wife came home from work early and flipped the lights on, (Side note: the game instructs you to play with the lights off to enhance you gaming experience.) and finding her man in mid-air and full-on fright mode. Screaming and the whole nine. On top of all the embarrassing business that followed for weeks afterward, the bad guys in the game started to react and ran over to where I was and, promptly, beat the daylights out of me. It's an injustice that I've never really been able to get over.
No other game has used the gaming headset in such a way and Rockstar never got the credit they deserved for. The hybrid gameplay turned some people off, going too slow for some gamers that were turning into switch junkies with games like Halo. The gunplay wasn't great, although I'd argue that you aren't really SUPPOSE to use guns, That's why it's hard to use them. Throwing severed heads to get baddies attention so you could get the jump on them wasn't the game that Mom was going to get for lil' Jonny. But Manhunt was an amazing gaming experience that not enough people found out about. And it did well enough to garner a terrible, neutered sequel that you should never play!! Ever!
Manhunt on PS2 goes for around $5-10. Check it out if you want to play a game that will let you live in a Friday the 13th movie. Just for alittle while.