If you took every cliche from the FPS genre, such as firefights against waves of enemies, campy dialogue, and terrible AI, even the most clever alchemist would end up with something along the lines of Manhunter. As a $5.00 low-budget indie shooter, Manhunter falls in to the so bad that it could potentially be good category on occasions, but ultimately fails to entertain.
As John “Striker” Gulllivan, an elite sniper and former SAS, you’ll traverse the likes of Moscow, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan with your hacker buddy Max, taking on less than legal contracts as a mercenary. Each of the game’s 5 chapters are broken down in to smaller levels, offering standard FPS fare, like dockyards, sewers, and office buildings, that manage to keep the settings fresh throughout the 3-4 hour campaign. Although each level felt unique in terms of visuals, their layouts are relatively generic, consisting of random objects to hind behind while mowing down wave after wave of bad guys.
Objectives are equally generic, usually having you run to different points on the map between bad guy disposal duty. Once there, chances are that you’ll end up having to move to another part of the map, possibly interacting with an object to repeat the process all over again in the next level. It’s as basic as basic can be, and the overall lack of set pieces has given me a new-found respect for the campaigns found in Call of Duty or Battlefield. Then again, we have to remember that Manhunter is an indie title without the luxury of a large budget, but I’m pretty positive the developers could have come up with something to break up the monotony, besides just throwing in another wave of enemies.
As a savvy sniper with an accent that means business, each level offers different sniper rifles in which to dispose of said bad guys. This is good, considering your other non-sniper options are severely underpowered, and their lack of accuracy is akin to blind-firing from the hip with your bad hand. Oddly enough, your sniper rifles all have pinpoint accuracy and can take down every enemy with one well-placed shot.. well.. anywhere, really. That’s right, shooting an enemy in the foot is just as effective as feeding the bullet right between their eyes. Ammunition is also never a concern, as you begin each level fully stocked with 200+ rounds for each sniper rifle, even if you ended the previous level with 10 bullets. Some sort of sniper magic, perhaps?
The charm of Manhunter lies in its 80’s action movie dialogue, although I don’t think that’s the approach the developers had in mind. Your gruff Australian accent delivers line after campy line of generic military talk, while Max typically congratulates you on a nice shot and demands you “get your ass out of there!” Each chapter also seems to blend in to the next, seemingly offering one bad situation after another for poor old John, further promoting the game as a generic military shooter with no heart or soul to keep you interested.
Graphically, Manhunter isn’t the prettiest girl at the dance, but I’ve definitely seen worse. It’s similar to what you might have seen back in 2005, but by today’s standards, she’s lucky anyone would dance with her at all. Gun models are pretty solid and enemy skins are varied, but it’s easy to overlook them when the A.I. has the IQ of a baked potato. Enemies also seem to forgo the laws of science, as firing off their automatic weapons doesn’t budge them an inch, and any well-placed foot shot recoils their head as if they’ve just been hit with JFK’s magic bullet.
Overall, Manhunter is at best a generic military FPS with forgettable characters, campy dialogue and every cliche in the book molded in to one game. Most guns suffer from poor accuracy, enemy AI is laughable, and every level consists of one firefight after the next. It does offer a nice variety of backdrops, but they’re typically full of scenarios we’ve all seen a hundred times before. There is also no co-op or multiplayer to extend its lifespan, as well as no Steam achievements to unlock, but if you’re looking for a cheap way to feel like Dolph Lundgren with a sniper rifle, Manhunter may be worth checking out.
Recommended for fans of: Cheaply priced indie games, generic FPS, 80’s action hero movies.
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling news, reviews and a bit of our public relations communications. He’s an aspiring writer and Baltimore native that can usually be found watching terrible B-movies or knee-deep in an MMO. His favorite console is the Dreamcast, favorite game is the original Metroid and he could watch The Goonies for the rest of his life. Contact him by e-mail at the address above, or follow his insanity on Twitter.