Manhunt | Retro Video Game Review

The video game industry experienced a rapid evolution over the past few decades, with cutting-edge technology bringing us closer to more realistic and immersive gameplay experiences. Despite all these advancements, retro video games continue to maintain a loyal following among gamers from various age groups, and one such game is Manhunt. Manhunt is a retro video game that was developed by Rockstar North in 2003 and initially available on PlayStation 2. This game gained popularity for its unique storyline and controversial gameplay, as the player assumes the role of James Earl Cash, a death row inmate forced to participate in a series of snuff films. Manhunt received various accolades and criticism with saying it may be too violent for some players. As the gaming industry changed, Manhunt’s impact on the video game industry continues to be recognized. In this article, we will provide an overview of Manhunt on PlayStation 2, its history, and present a review of its gameplay, graphics, story, sound design, replayability, and difficulty level, ultimately providing our score out of 10.

Overview and History of Manhunt

Manhunt is a classic retro video game originally developed for the PlayStation 2. It was developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games, the makers of several other classic games like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption. The game was released in 2003, and it gained a lot of attention for its controversial content and extreme violence.

The game’s plot follows James Earl Cash, a death row inmate who is spared from execution and forced to participate in a series of gruesome games orchestrated by a mysterious character called “The Director.” The game is set in the fictional city of Carcer City, which is an incredibly dark and gritty urban environment.

When Manhunt was released, it was met with a lot of controversy because of its extreme violence and explicit content. The game faced a lot of backlash from media outlets and politicians, who claimed that the game was too violent and that it would have a negative impact on young people. Despite the controversy, the game was a commercial success, and it sold almost two million copies. The game was praised for its innovative gameplay and unique blend of stealth and action elements.

Overall, Manhunt is a classic retro game that is still remembered fondly by many gamers. Its unique storyline, gritty setting, and controversial content make it a standout title in the history of video games.


Manhunt is a third-person action stealth game that takes place in the gritty depths of Carcer City, a fictional industrial city. Throughout the game, players control the character of James Earl Cash, who finds himself in a twisted and sadistic game of life and death.

The game mechanics of Manhunt are relatively straightforward, with players having to sneak through levels undetected and eliminate gang members by executing them in gruesome ways. The game features a scoring system that rewards players for their creativity and unique kill methods, with bonuses for using environmental objects such as plastic bags, crowbars, and chainsaws to take down unsuspecting enemies.

The controls in Manhunt are remarkably tight and precise, allowing players to weave in and out of tight spaces and execute opponents with deadly accuracy. The camera angles are also well-designed, offering a good blend of fixed camera angles and player-controlled camera modes that provide a proper field of vision.

Overall, the gameplay of Manhunt is both engaging and fun. The game’s unique mechanics keep it fresh and exciting, while its gritty and sadistic tone adds an element of suspense and thrill. Although the game’s mature content may not be suitable for all audiences, its fluid gameplay mechanics make it a must-play title for any fan of retro video games.


When it comes to the graphics of Manhunt on PlayStation 2, fans of the retro game won’t be disappointed. Released in 2003, it’s interesting to compare the graphics of Manhunt with those of other games available at the time. The game boasts a dark, gritty art style, perfectly matching the game’s overall mood and direction. From the dingy, half-destroyed environments to the character models, the game’s visuals are both detailed and foreboding.

Compared to other games at the time, Manhunt’s graphics are relatively similar, particularly in terms of the evocative depiction of a bleak, urban landscape. One point where Manhunt stands out is the well-designed animations of the characters, especially during combat scenes where the animations are smooth and fluid.

Overall, the graphics play a significant role in setting the tone of Manhunt, making the experience that much more immersive. Graphics play a significant role in gaming by providing an immersive aesthetic and enhancing gameplay features. It’s safe to say that in terms of darkness, grit, and immersion, Manhunt offers a clever nod to the noir and horror genres, bringing players incredibly close to the setting and character controls.

Story and Sound Design

Manhunt is a dark action stealth game with an even darker storyline. The game follows the story of James Earl Cash, a death row inmate, who was spared by a mysterious man only known as The Director to participate in an assassination game. The game has a gripping plot with many twists and turns that keep the player engaged.

The game’s sound design and soundtrack complement the storyline, making it an immersive experience. The sound design is gritty, with realistic gunshot sounds, and chilling screams of the unfortunate targets. The soundtrack is intense and fits the game’s premise, with music that changes depending on the player’s action or lack thereof.

The narrative and sound design of Manhunt are designed to evoke emotional responses in the player. When you successfully complete an assassination, the game rewards you with a slow-motion replay of the violent kill accompanied by a dramatic soundtrack. Conversely, failing to remain undetected results in loud alarms and intense action music, conveying the high stakes of the game.

Although the storyline is unique and compelling, it is not without its criticisms. The game’s excessive violence and gore caused public outcry, leading to its sales being banned in several countries. However, the controversy surrounding the game only contributed to its popularity.

In conclusion, Manhunt’s storyline and sound design excel in their ability to immerse and elicit an emotional response from players. The game’s dark atmosphere and thrilling plot make it a memorable experience.

Replayability and Difficulty

Manhunt has been known to possess excellent replayability potential. The game’s stealth mechanics and the variety of in-game generated scenarios allow for a different gameplay experience every time the game is played. Players can take different routes and approaches, utilize different weapons, and adopt different strategies, which can result in unexpected outcomes. The game’s replayability potential is a big plus, as players can enjoy the game even after completing the story campaign.

Regarding the game’s difficulty level, Manhunt is certainly not an easy game to play. The game provides an excellent challenge to even the most competent players, and mastering it is no small feat. The game’s AI is unforgiving, and the player’s slightest mistake can result in the player being caught and killed by the game’s enemies. In addition, the game’s bosses pose quite a significant challenge. This level of difficulty might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as casual players may find it too unforgiving.

When compared to other games in terms of replayability and difficulty, Manhunt scores highly in both regards. Although the game’s unforgiving nature may be a turnoff for some players, it contributes significantly to the game’s immersive and intense atmosphere. Players looking for a challenging and rewarding experience will certainly enjoy Manhunt.


After evaluating Manhunt based on gameplay, graphics, story, sound design, replayability, and difficulty, we can confidently say that it’s a game that deserves attention. Developed by Rockstar Games, the same creators behind the Grand Theft Auto series, Manhunt offers a unique experience that delivers thrills and chills.

The gameplay mechanics of Manhunt are simple yet engaging, with intuitive controls and camera angles that help players navigate through the game world. The graphics are impressive, offering a gritty take on urban settings that is immersive and realistic. The storyline of Manhunt is captivating, featuring compelling characters and a thrilling plot that keeps players on the edge of their seats.

The sound design and soundtrack of Manhunt are also outstanding, enhancing the overall emotional impact of the game. The game’s replayability potential is high, with multiple endings and gameplay modes that make it worth revisiting. Overall, Manhunt scores an impressive 9 out of 10. Its challenging difficulty level and intense gameplay make it a must-play for fans of horror and action games.

In conclusion, Manhunt is a retro video game that stands the test of time. Its gameplay, graphics, story, sound design, replayability, and difficulty are all top-notch, making it a game that deserves recognition. If you’re a fan of horror and action games, we highly recommend giving Manhunt a try.


1. What is the objective of Manhunt?

In Manhunt, the player takes on the role of James Earl Cash, a death row inmate who is forced to participate in a series of snuff films by a director named Lionel Starkweather. The objective of the game is for Cash to fight his way through various levels filled with brutal gangs and hunters to ultimately confront Starkweather and escape his grasp.

2. Is Manhunt a violent game?

Yes, Manhunt is known for its extreme violence and gore. The game involves graphic executions of enemies using various weapons and environmental objects. The game has been subject to controversy and bans in some countries due to its violent content.

3. Can Manhunt be played on modern gaming systems?

Manhunt was originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2003. It has since been re-released on the PlayStation 4 as part of the PS2 Classics series in 2016. Additionally, the game can be played on PC through digital downloads on platforms such as Steam and GOG.

4. Is there a multiplayer mode in Manhunt?

No, Manhunt does not have a multiplayer mode. The game’s focus is solely on the single-player experience and the story of James Earl Cash.

5. How does Manhunt compare to other retro video games?

Manhunt is considered to be a standout game in the survival horror genre for its unique gameplay mechanics and intense themes. However, its excessive violence and controversy have also made it a polarizing game in the gaming community. Ultimately, the game’s merit and appeal depend on personal preference and tolerance for violent content.

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