|A GOOD MANHUNT IS HARD
November 09, 2007
Manhunt 2 -- last-generation
degeneracy! GRUELING game industry embarassment! Shameful free publicity!
Decapitations! Mutilations! All coming after YOUR BABIES!
It's honestly difficult to cut
through my current level of apathy about the game to comment -- I don't really
play my PS2 that much, these days, and I'm betting the same goes for the
mass of gaming enthusiasts, so it's kind of like trying to get excited over
somebody releasing "Uncle Murder's Deathtime Mutilation Park" on the
Game Boy Advance. It'd have to be REALLY heinous to get me to double back
to the closet to take a look, and from everything I've seen, "Manhunt 2"
is pretty much "Manhunt 1" with a storyline.
Burn on "Manhunt 1!" Woo!
But there is an issue here, and
it's not whether or not the game's going to turn your five-year-old into
a cold-blooded killer (I'm betting not a GOOD one, at the very least) --
it's that the ESRB has pretty much just ADMITTED that their ratings process
is arbitrary. "The criteria varies from game to game," they say. I can buy
that. There are numerous instances where you'd want to hold similar objectionable
content to different standards depending on context; violent death in the
Bible versus violent death in "The Terminator," for instance. But the system
should ALSO, if there's ANY rhyme or reason to it, be building on precedent
-- and that brings us to the simple fact that for all the hoopla, the original,
AO-rated version of "Manhunt 2" just isn't substantially more gruesome, gory,
or immersive (Wii version excluded, since they both got the same AO rating)
than "Manhunt 1."
You saw off heads in the first
"Manhunt," you saw off heads in the second "Manhunt." Ice pick to brain,
skull stomp, shopping bag suffocation, check, check, check. But Manhunt one,
without any goofy video filters, was rated M, while Manhunt two gets a heapin'
helpin' of Adults-Only. I can't stress this enough -- the only substantial
difference between the two isn't graphics -- same blocky crap as last time
-- it's not the amount of gore -- you SAWED OFF PEOPLE'S HEADS in the first
one, how much worse can you get without doing a Maypole dance using your
enemy's intestines? -- it's that number two has a STORYLINE that somewhat
JUSTIFIES the violent acts you have to perform.
The first "Manhunt" was a kind
of "Running Man" ripoff -- you killed people for entertainment, that's what
it boiled down to. The second, you're a patient in a mind-control project,
trying to escape and have a normal life. It's not a GREAT story, but it's
a real one, and the kills you make are, at the least, more justifiable than
those that occur in the first. So why did "Manhunt 2" get a harsher rating?
Basically, the ESRB doesn't know what it's doing.
Not that they're in an enviable
position -- any move they make, it's gonna be the wrong one. The "AO" rating
isn't a 'rating' so much as it is a sales ban, so even if the game DID warrant
it (it didn't), you antagonize both the gamers and the developers who want
to see the game come to market. On the other hand, if you rate a violent
game that has significant bad press about it an 'M' or lower, parents' groups
get all twitchy and try to start threatening legislation. So, the ESRB wimped
Here's the thing, though -- if
they're under criticism, logic dictates MORE reliance on standardized ratings
processes, not this horrible freeform system they've got going on. If they've
got a rule on the books that says, "Saw off a guy's head and you get an M
rating," then, voila -- people complain, you can point to the book. It told
me to. Go one, sue the book.
Anyways, "Manhunt 2." Mediocre
game, rightfully M-rated, stupid video filters not necessary.