Generally favorable reviews - based on 47 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 47
  2. Negative: 4 out of 47
Buy On
  1. A subversive parody that cleverly indicts our depraved culture? If it makes you feel better about having a shitload of sadistic fun, sure.
  2. You would be hard-pressed to find a more intense experience in any entertainment medium. [Jan 2004, p.120]
  3. Violent or not, Manhunt contains substance that other games can only wish for, and does so while pulling off some excellent and original play mechanics, executed to near-perfection.
  4. Entertainment Weekly
    An engrossing thrill ride. [19 Dec 2003, p.L2T 20]
  5. Cheat Code Central
    This game is one of the most dark and disturbing games I have ever played and I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or not...Underneath it all I found the game one part infectious and one part repetitious. I enjoyed skulking in the shadows for the first half of the game, but after that it wore thin.
  6. With all of the variety and unlockable content, you'd be hard-pressed to find a game more gut-wrenchingly intense and disturbing as this one. That being said, it makes for one hell of a good time.
  7. Just plain fun. I haven't been this addicted to a game in some time, and I'm looking forward to wrapping up this review so I can get back to playing it.
  8. Official Playstation 2 Magazine UK
    A dirty, grisly, filthy but brilliant game experience. [Jan 2007, p.106]
  9. netjak
    Extremely violent and even a bit disturbing, but it is also one of the finest games to grace the Playstation 2 in some time.
  10. If you enjoy slow, strategic, stealth gameplay, if you hacked your way through "Tenchu" and wanted more blood and violence then look no further. You won’t find a more stylish or disturbing game than this.
  11. The sound quality of Manhunt is surreal, simply because the game seems like a living, breathing entity by itself.
  12. 85
    Forget it if pure action is your bag, but fans of MGS-style thievery owe it to themselves to check this one out. Just keep a couple of puke bags handy if you're a little emotionally sensitive.
  13. A fun game that’s utterly and completely bone-chilling in some parts. If you’re old enough, this is one hunt worth going on.
  14. 85
    The grisly cutscenes are just icing on the cake of a superbly honed stealth and tactical action game. Manhunt is a solid, deep experience for seasoned gamers pining for some hardcore, challenging games this fall.
  15. An amazing stress reliever as well – there’s nothing like beating the crap out of someone with a bat who only has their hands to defend themselves.
  16. Seriously intense, and anyone with a stomach for the game's concept ought to find it fiendishly entertaining.
  17. 84
    An extremely violent game, but its strength comes from the strong mix of atmosphere, stealth and gameplay.
  18. The controls are responsive and worked well, both for the sneaking around aspect and the heads up melee fighting if you happen to get spotted.
  19. I just didn't quite get into Manhunt the way I wanted to because of the wierd control setup. This game just doesn't do justice with a GTA-style control system. It's not the same game.
  20. It is incredibly easy to screw up and get killed in this game, which sometimes forces you to repeat lengthy and difficult sections of each level. Thankfully, there are mid-stage save points that allow you to restart there instead of at the beginning of the level.
  21. 80
    I don't doubt that the violence used in this game is used at least particularly for shock value – but what happens when batting someone’s head off becomes boring? Will Manhunt 2 feature the ability to rape a victim – will some other game in the immediate future? It’s a fair question.
  22. It creates a superbly tense atmosphere that draws you in and completely immerses you, we can’t think of any other stealth game that’s managed this to such good effect. We also like to see developers stretch beyond the barriers and explore ways to touch the players’ emotions – this game certainly does that. But on the other hand the repetition soon becomes apparent and its lack of depth.
  23. PSM Magazine
    More variety, be it "Ico"-style environmental puzzles, "GTA"-type missions, "MGS"-inspired boss battles, greater AI diversity, or simply deeper interactivity with the environment, would have really helped keep things fresh. [Jan 2004, p.28]
  24. A word of caution should probably be added; the overall pace of Manhunt is rather slow. This is in keeping with the overall feel of the game and somewhat necessary for development of the linear story line.
  25. Edge Magazine
    Like "GTA" there's more to this than shock and awe. Within its linear structure there is a lot of freedom within which to act, much more so than both "Splinter Cell" and "Metal Gear Solid 2," the titles which Manhunt most closely resembles. [Jan 2004, p.96]
  26. 80
    Yes, this is all very gory, grisly, and absolutely not for kids or anyone with a weak stomach as people are decapitated, disemboweled, perforated, shot, and chainsawed—all to the cackling delight of your offscreen savior (brilliantly voiced by Brian Cox) who relishes each kill.
  27. The phenomenal use of sound and the "snuff" executions are exceptional, and the attention to detail in both the environments, the gangs, hell, even the instruction booklet is top notch.
  28. Beneath the gore and gritty urban realism is a well-designed and challenging game. Killing is never meant to be fun, but in Manhunt there is a sick satisfaction to be gleaned from each and every kill.
  29. More than just a gimmick. Sure, the brutal animations are great fun to watch, but the true satisfaction lies in getting to that point and finding a way to overcome even the largest obstacles.
  30. I liked the game sometimes and other times I despised it. Then again, maybe that is what they were shooting for.
  31. Attempts to combine excessive violence with stealth-action gameplay, but fails to invoke a sense of value and worth in play.
  32. A very good game, it's just hidden under a coat of blood and filth. The game engine is good, and the gameplay, graphics and audio are well done. If you can stomach the disturbing images and violence, you'll find a solid stealth/action game.
  33. It doesn't advance the stealth genre in too many areas other than the aforementioned headset idea, but what's assembled here is such a strong core of atmosphere, gameplay, and overall tension that the game as a whole doesn't suffer as much for its linearity as it probably should.
  34. These movies was pretty good, but after the first ten bloody murders I was like, "Eh, seen it all." The more you watch, the more it just looks like what you just watched. The murders even got a little thin for Cash after a while, I think.
  35. Besides the shocking, desensitizing violence that borders on being pornographic (there's no actual sex, but there is plenty of penetration and spraying of bodily fluids, all viewed from lurid camera angles), Manhunt turns out to be a pretty solid game.
  36. 70
    Its linearity and concentration on stealth is quite a contrast to the open freedom of the GTA games. Its explicit violence can be gimmicky, but it fits so well with the theme that nobody could (or should, at any rate,) call it gratuitous.
  37. When it's firing on all cylinders Manhunt is a disturbingly entertaining take on the stealth action genre with the trademark high quality Rockstar production that mask some of its shortcomings. But scratch beneath its grimy surface and it's blighted by serious AI issues, repetitive gameplay and frustrating combat.
  38. All the constant hiding and tiptoeing and sneaking doesn't scream "action-packed!" after all. [Feb 2004, p.118]
  39. Not even the innovation with the headset or the cruel dismemberments can blot out a maddening linearity.
  40. Ultimately, however, Manhunt becomes more laborious than shocking. Along the way, the vaunted enemy A.I. turns transparent, detracting considerably from its aura of paranoia.
  41. It's unfortunate that Manhunt becomes such a redundant game so quickly. The game employs a few very good concepts, but they are off-set by the game's mediocrity and pointless gore.
  42. Play Magazine
    Not that there's anything wrong with cashing in on America's bloodlust, but to call Manhunt a "mature" game, I think, is an affront to mature people. [Jan 2004, p.65]
  43. 50
    Manhunt's biggest problem is pacing. Like Richard Nixon, it peaks too early. It has a lot of smaller problems, but all of those issues contribute to the unfortunate fact that I was tired of Manhunt long before it was over. I was tired of its violence, certainly, but I was also tired of its AI quirks, tired of its repetitive level design, and tired of the growing impression that I was just the main character in a geek show.
  44. 40
    It's just one gruesome kill after another until the violence loses its punch. Too bad that happens after the first couple missions. If you want a stealth game, there are better ones out there. If you want blood, do yourself a favor a buy a tube of red dye #5, instead.
  45. But what baffles me most about Manhunt is that I'm not exactly sure how I'm supposed to feel about those executions. What do the game's producers want me to feel? Should I feel...vindicated? Exhilarated? Vengeful? Empowered? I'll tell you how I did feel: I felt evil, and queasy, and numb. Eventually, a strange kind of self-loathing set in, followed by a low-level depression.
  46. Manhunt is boring. Cash's standard walking pace is painfully slow, press R1 and his running speed is ridiculously fast. Navigating the game is therefore less than pleasurable and, should you not have anyone to dice up, a tedious experience.
  47. games(TM)
    What we have here is the absolute bare bones of the stealth genre mixed with shock video scenes that attempt to add flavour to the otherwise bland action. Essentially, the gameplay works as follows: track down a Hunter, get behind him, hold down the X-button...and...that's it. [Jan 2004, p.122]

Awards & Rankings

#9 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2003
#8 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2003
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 154 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 11 out of 154
  1. CoryP.
    Oct 9, 2005
    Smash or trash time, and this game well deserves a perfect score. Sure there is better stealth games out there and better graphics and all Smash or trash time, and this game well deserves a perfect score. Sure there is better stealth games out there and better graphics and all that other special crap, but this game didn't need it to pull of a great experience. I love the fact that this game of very,very,very, few can pull off a well deserved mature rating ( I don't know how many other titles try to pull it off and fail to succeed). I am not a pyschopath, i know the difference between reality and virtual reality, but I believe there should be a sequel (pray to the almighty Rockstar) if not more games of its kind.... but again please let there be a sequel. Full Review »
  2. Oct 12, 2012
    Disturbing, scary, graphically violent. Rockstar North's urban horror game is a tense and taut spin on "The Most Dangerous Game". PlayersDisturbing, scary, graphically violent. Rockstar North's urban horror game is a tense and taut spin on "The Most Dangerous Game". Players control James Earle Cash, an inmate who is busted out of prison by The Director; a mystery man who sees your every move. Once Cash escapes the prison facility, his journey home becomes a literal fight for survival. Armed with bladed weapons and firearms, Cash uses both stealth and full-out assaults as to fight off the creepy gangs who are out to kill him. The macrbe twist is that The Director aids Cash through an earpiece throughout the game. He directs Cash to his final destination, ordering him to kill as gruesomely as possible every step of the way. The disturbing aspect of the game is that it rewards you for doing so. You are encouraged to perform the most graphic killings to unlock challenge rooms. In movie terms, "Manhunt" is "The Running Man" meets "The Warriors" with a touch of "8MM". Gameplay-wise, it is very similar to "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell" and "Hitman 2". This game features shooting segments, but it's very much a stealth game. The horror atmosphere is extremely thick with a synth musical score straight out of an 80's slasher flick. In a sense, "Manhunt" is a survival game as much as it is an action title. In fact, you'll probably creep out when you first get spotted by a crazed gang member.

    Rockstar North made three great "Grand Theft Auto" games for the PS2. This game is nowhere as grandiose as those mammoth titles. But it is an efficient and effective actioner that is truly creepy. 8.5 out of 10.
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 3, 2018
    Mostly fun with a few setbacks. You play as James Earl Cash, a released death row inmate (or should I say kidnapped) and who would kidnap aMostly fun with a few setbacks. You play as James Earl Cash, a released death row inmate (or should I say kidnapped) and who would kidnap a death row inmate you may ask? A psychotic film director who would like nothing more than to use your natural cold-blooded instincts to create the ultimate snuff film. Throughout the game the director has set up filming sets crawling with gang members, big game hunters, crazies and trained military all on a manhunt, to find you. Using what you can find, from plastic bags to glass shards, bricks and bottles and mayhap a severed head or two, you must distract your enemies, flank them, and take them out one by one. Stealth is essential, as enemies outnumber you, and will overpower you should you be seen. The stealth mechanics at play here work, but more options would have done to flesh out the experience, which begins to grow stale past the halfway mark. The majority of the game can be played by simply sticking to the shadows, which sometimes lay in areas right next to a light source (why is there a shadow here?) and can break immersion in quite funny ways when a hunter is looking around stupidly when you're standing right in front of him, directly in front of a light. Solid Snake can get away with using a cardboard box, however, so suspension of belief isn't a problem here. From the shadows you can make a knocking sound much like a Metal Gear game, wait for your target to turn around, and strike. Stealth kills are formed in executions. By walking behind an unaware hunter, Cash will raise whatever weapon he is holding, and by holding x or square, a reticule will form above his head flashing from white, to yellow, to red, indicating various levels of violent execution. The kills play out in a VHS style fashion, static lines running down the screen as you watch Cash cut, gut, and smash his opponents to ruin. These are the main selling point in Manhunt, and although they add cinematic flare, they do become rather repetitive as the game goes on, and I began using quick, white executions to save time and hassle. Lining up red kills is visceral and rewarding, even earning you higher scores on your missions (you can score 1-5 stars on each mission) but often, holding that button down for as long as needed will result in the hunter turning around, seeing you, and leaving you looking stupid and greedy. Combat IS an option in Manhunt, but fighting anymore than 1 hunter at a time will lead to certain death as hunters are quite spongey against melee combat. Executions are mandatory. There's also a few levels where you are given handguns and shotguns, even sniper rifles, where the game changes genre from stealth action to shooter, playing very much like the shooter missions in previous Grand Theft Auto games. These sections help break up the pace from the slow, brooding stealth sections, and some more would have been kindly accepted. Other areas are bogged down by tedious escort missions, three if you count a gas tank you have to walk from one end of the map to another.
    Manhunt shines its best when it leaves you alone with a screen full of scumbags. Patience clashes with anticipation as you plan out your every move, satisfaction ringing in as you watch that final execution from a tough scenario you were having issues with. Manhunt is a difficult and punishing game, requiring patience and key timing to do the work that only Cash can do.
    Over all, I love the game for its atmosphere, which I would put as daunting, and at times chilling. It holds up today, feeling almost like a precursor to The Last of Us in many ways. It's far from perfect though, with some sections that just aren't fun to play, limited stealth mechanics, and being overall repetitive. 7/10
    Full Review »