Vs. Mode: Newsweek And MTV News Play and Debate "Manhunt 2" — Final Round

Before writing this final exchange, N’Gai Croal from Newsweek and I had already written over 10,000 words about “Manhunt 2.” What more could we possibly say? What was there left to debate? Oh, I just wanted to question the very nature of gaming. That’s all.

The discussion appears in full below as well as on N’Gai’s “Level Up” blog.

Read on. And thank you to all who commented here and around the web. The discussion has been fascinating.

To: N’Gai Croal
Fr: Stephen Totilo
Date: June 26th, 2007
Re: Who are we?


Sometimes you make me sad.

One time you made me sad recently was yesterday. That’s when you told me once more that “videogames are not a narrative medium.”

Before I could even grab a box of tissues you chopped a few more rhetorical onions in front of my face. You said that the newness of games and the medium’s “requirement of repetitive action, reaction and interaction to maintain the player’s interest; the thinness of its characters; the perfunctoriness of its plots; the lack of complex or even complicated psychology” made it hard to argue that games have depth. You said, “It would be like arguing that an activity–a mountain hike, laps in a pool or a game of chess–is profound.”

You know what I have to say? Something I’ve wanted to say for years now, Croal: “Go take a hike!”

The world does not believe that repetitive actions lack the profundity of a book. My brother-in-law certainly doesn’t. He is hiking the Appalachian Trail –Georgia to Maine — this summer. I think he could spot some deeper meaning amid his repetitive actions.

I also bet the people who like long pieces of classical music that repeat the same musical themes find artistic beauty inherent in repetition.

I suspect our fellow gamers who killed giant after giant in the majestic but sorrowful “Shadow of the Colossus” and will soon blast psychopath after psychopath in the drowned Utopia of “BioShock” will have little trouble identifying deeper meanings in their favorite entertainment.

Not all games can be as shallow as “Tetris” (nor as good, uh, coincidentally?)Sometimes some meaning will get in there. And the more game designers figure out how to embed it not in between moments of gameplay (“Final Fantasy X,” “Half-Life 2“) but actually into gameplay (“Silent Hill 2“) or in the background while gameplay is occurring (the voice-over during the platforming action of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time“; the value systems expressed through real-time graphics changes in “Fable“) the more meaning has the chance of seeping into some games. I don’t want deep meaning in all my games. I don’t think I even want it in most of my games – certainly not in my racing games or any of the descendants of “Pac-Man” that I play (except “GTA“, but not “Crackdown“).

I’m just an optimist, I guess. I think games are still evolving and that there’s hope for profundity yet. Now I thought I was supposed to be the curmudgeon in these exchanges!

Back to talking about the game: so there I was hacking and slashing with my arms while seated in the Rockstar offices last Friday and I thought, “this Wii sure makes me feel more involved with this ’Manhunt 2′ game than I thought I would.” At one point I had the lead character, Daniel Lamb, leaping off a roof and down onto some victim that must have deserved it, because… why else would that victim have been in the game? Anyway, Daniel had garden shears in hand. Holding the Wii’s nunchuck and remote in my two hands I followed on-screen cues and hoisted my hands up (Daniel lifted those shears) and then drove them down (Daniel, shall we say, forcefully gave the shears to his victim). In another display of Wii-enabled immersion, one of the Rockstar guys in the office held the Wii remote like a saw handle and sliced it back and forth while Daniel sawed something other than a 2×4 in the game. You talked, rightly so, about how the repetitious actions of games weird non-gamers out. But how many repetitions of these actions do you think it would take to wig out the non-gamers – and maybe even some actual gamers? I’m guessing one each.

I think the ultra-violence we see in a lot of video games today is the product of an upped ante that started rising as soon as developers noticed that it is action — space ships blasting other space ships, for starters — that can make a game interactive and therefore fun. Those repeatedly raised stakes have brought us to Daniel Lamb’s raised shears, and in an unexpected twist, my simultaneously raised hands. It’s going to be a long time before a gamer can describe “Manhunt 2″ and not have some explaining about themselves to do. I know I’d wonder why a person who was into “Manhunt” couldn’t just settle for the gentle swings of “Wii Sports” tennis.

In September I interviewed Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime and asked him if he’d try to get Rockstar to support his company. The developer’s owner and publisher, Take Two, hadn’t produced its “Grand Theft Auto”s for Nintendo’s GameCube. What about Wii? “I’ll be spending some time later today with the folks over at Take Two to see what type of support they can give our console,” he told me. Look at the support he got! He might as well have asked 2 Live Crew to re-write the “Super Mario” theme song.

But I say, thank goodness they made “Manhunt 2″ for the Wii, because it provides a new way to think about where games are going. Let me quickly establish that I think the Wii controls in “Manhunt 2″ are quite effective. They don’t force you to imitate exactly what Daniel Lamb does on-screen, but the spirit of the player’s and Daniel’s actions are the same. A sharp move from one is a sharp move from the other. A powerful swing from me is a powerful swing from whichever hand Daniel is holding his axe. You pointed out that the Wii was not your console of choice and that the reliance on gesture controls made the game feel unnatural But I’ve played a bunch of Wii games and feel comfortable with the system. As a result, I felt my moves were in sync with the game. Without meditation, I can say I, at times, felt one with it.

When “Manhunt 2″ asks the player to trigger the game’s signature stealth kills it slows down the passage of time in the game. This gives players time to do the right move and not worry that what’s happening on screen is passing them by. Then, once the gesture is properly done, the action reverts to normal speed and the animations of the stealth kills reach their gruesome climax. In other words, the game finds a way to both ask you to take the time to focus on your own physical actions and then restore your attention to what’s happening in the game without missing a beat. The system is smooth.

The promise of the Nintendo’s system is that we Wii players will feel more into our games. You can have your fancy shaders and bump-mapping, Xbox gamers (actually I play the 360 too). We’ve got motion control! We’re more into our games.

I believe that for years gamers have expected that the thing that will draw us more deeply into what we play and that will win games new respect among non-gamers is improved graphics. It will make these worlds seem more real and that will make them seem more worthy of spending time in. What other drives, besides those and commerce, have there been for better graphics? I think there’s been a hope that games would ride the improvements in graphics technology to a new era, in which people play them without thinking of them as games.

The word “cinematic” gets bandied about, which is short-hand for “exciting and real-seeming.” Why have so many games and gamers aspired to the cinematic? What is there to admire in film? That good movies looked cool, for one. Even better: when people watch them they buy into the fiction as a form of reality. People watch “Star Wars” and don’t quite believe that the Death Star exists, but they buy into the idea that it could and that it might as well in the galaxy where Luke and Leia live. Go to the movies and you won’t start thinking that boys in England attend magician’s school, but the movies make it easy to pretend, as a viewer, that such things are real. Movie-goers buy into all kinds of oddities, like the one that suggests that a conversation looks like a close-up of one person talking, then the close-up of someone else, and then a picture of both people together. That’s not what a conversation looks like in real life, but people both buy the fake realities shown in the movies and easily comprehend the unreal way real things look when put in film. People can do this because millions of people have been watching movies for decades. We all get it. Cinema makes sense.

Oh, to have video games be cinematic too. If only the video-game-rendered visions of “Call of Duty” and “Gears of War” and “Mass Effect” could be as convincing as film. Then that would show the world. Maybe. But “Manhunt 2″ on the Wii reminded me that there’s this other way to get people to buy into a fictional world: make them – bodily – participants in it.

You’ve played “Manhunt 2″ on the Wii, what do you think? Given how the world has so far reacted to “Manhunt 2,” and given what I experienced when I played it – something even I, as an experienced gamer, wasn’t quite ready for – I wonder who is ready for this?

Just when we were inching toward a point at which non-gamers would be able to understand the potential immersion of 3D games, the Wii came in. Can society handle a legion of gamers sitting on their couch gesturing a burger flip and a sword swing? Is this the easier mode of play that people can accept over the mode that has you tapping buttons on a controller? Or is this the weirdest expression of the desire to game yet? How odd it is, this desire to sit there and fake things, to act with our hands, to replace blank stares that mask who-knows-what-thoughts with energized gestures that prove we were animated by playing roles? Does gesture control make gaming seem like a more natural activity? Or does it remove the veil and reveal how peculiar and arresting the desire to become participants in a fantasy world is?

Who are we when we game? What kind of people does the Wii reveal us to be? Who does a Wii game turn us into, just for the moments we’re playing it? Worthy of censor or not, who does “Manhunt 2,” at least momentarily, make us?

I don’t know if I have another letter in me, N’Gai. I’m eager for others to pick up this exchange instead. So if this is the end for now, let me just thank you for another illuminating exchange. Next time we’ll keep it brief, I promise!

Oh, and for the record, readers, Rockstar wasn’t able to let us back in to play the rest of the game. Who know what lurks in the game’s final 10 levels. Will we ever find out?


To: Stephen Totilo
Fr: N’Gai Croal
Date: June 27th, 2007
Re: Dead Game Walking?


If my last post made you sad, this one might just make you mad. But not just yet.

I’m going to start out by talking about how I think Rockstar could have made an even better game out of “Manhunt.” As you know, I was very taken by the conceit of The Director and the way that he gives voice to the vicarious, voyeuristic side inherent to the designer of a videogame: he makes the rules; he tells us what to do; he controls where we can go; he wants to “see” us perform his bidding. But the Director isn’t the only voyeur at the party. We are as well. We steer the avatar; in this case, “Manhunt” protagonist James Earl Cash. We control his stealthy movements. We direct his gruesome attacks. We, like the Director, very much want to see what the fist, the stick, the knife, the gun will do to these bodies. So on the lower frequencies, the Director speaks for us too.

Fine, then; the game represents the callous and the sadistic, and it does so exceedingly well. What about its antithesis? What if we-as-Cash were confronted by a non-player character with a completely different take on seeing violence, someone who abhors watching it completely? There’s a female journalist in the game who’s trying to solve the mystery of what’s going on in Carcer City; at one point in the game, we have to guide her to safety even as crooked cops and thugs abound, while still carrying out the twisted fantasies of the Director. During the mission where we must escort her to safety, we can’t leave her alone for too long while we scout ahead and take out our enemies; otherwise, she’ll freak out, make noise, and the bad guys will come running. Rockstar could have done a lot more with her. What if she also freaked out whenever she saw or heard us committing acts of violence, and made comments on the disgusting nature of what she’s witnessing? We could lead her around with a blindfold, which would allow us to pull off silent kills, but the blindfold would also reduce the amount of time we could let go of her hand. We could put headphones on her blasting loud music, which would let us carry out noisy kills, but we’d have to do so outside of her line of vision. We could make her wear a blindfold and headphones, but that would drastically reduce the amount of time we could spend away from close proximity to her. In other words, she would be the anti-Director, the un-voyeur, representing the side of us that doesn’t want to see or do these things.

I’m suggesting a “Manhunt” that finds a way to further complicate our responses to the actions that the game is forcing us to carry out, within the language of the game and without breaking its fiction. If, as I suggest, the essence of a game is in its repeated action, reaction and interaction, the only way for Manhunt to meaningfully incorporate an auto-critique–to make us question what we’re doing while we’re doing it–would be to do so in the same terms of repeated action, reaction and interaction. That’s how single-player videogames can achieve depth, or rather, meaningful shallowness, by wedding meaning to action. Any other approach is not only cheating, it’s unlikely to be truly memorable. The example I always give of this is in “Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty,” when Raiden reveals to Snake that he had been a child soldier. Because I’d done some light research on child soldiers for a play that I’d directed a few years earlier, I found this particular cutscene moving. But it didn’t drive home the horror of child soldiers because it was just a movie sequence. Had Hideo Kojima found a way incorporate child soldiers into the gameplay–very, very carefully–his point would have had a lot more resonance.

I’m about to share my thoughts on how Rockstar could have improved “Manhunt 2,” based on the six missions we played. Which means that it’s time for a…

[SPOILER WARNING: Skip the next three paragraphs if you don’t want to read about plot points and speculation that may affect your enjoyment of the game should “Manhunt 2″ be released.]

Where Manhunt explored both ultra-violence and voyeurism, “Manhunt 2″ replaces the theme of voyeurism with that of (in)sanity. I know that you weren’t as observant as me during the demo of the first level of “Manhunt 2,” but I pretty quickly figured out that Leo Kasper is a figment of our protagonist Danny Lamb’s imagination. (Or he appears to be, at any rate; with about ten missions left to go, Rockstar might have a few more twists lying in wait.) So rather than being urged on and cheered on in our murderous ways by a voice inside our ears (the Director) we’re now being prompted and applauded by the voice inside our head (Leo.) Danny is reluctant towards the old ultra-violence; as you pointed out, committing his first murder causes him to throw up. This creates a nice tension, but as demonstrated in the six missions that we played, this tension exists only in the narrative. That’s a mistake.

What if this tension existed in the gameplay as well? What if “Manhunt 2″ let us switch between playing as Danny Lamb and playing as Leo Kasper within the same virtual body? The posture, the walk, the facial expressions, head tracking; all of that would change, but the clothing and the character model would remain the same. And whichever character is not being played would now be the voice inside our heads, each with its own perspective on observing or performing gruesome acts. As in the movie “Primal Fear,” this would call into question whose personality is the original and whose is invented. Leo could also play somewhat differently from Danny–a rage mode; bare-handed execution kills–and since one of the ingeniously morbid details in the games is that the amount of blood splattered on Danny’s clothes, face and eyeglasses represents the number and intensity of his executions, Leo’s emergence could be triggered by the quantity of blood soaking Danny’s clothing. Those dynamics would go some ways towards weaving the theme of insanity more thoroughly into the game.

“Manhunt 2″ also periodically includes hallucinations in the game–a little child; a ball that appears out of nowhere–but they’re purely cosmetic because they in no way affect the gameplay. If Rockstar really wants to mess with our heads, to truly provoke a feeling of madness in us, they need to do so using the very fabric of the game to undermine our ability to trust what’s real and what is not–virtually speaking. You mentioned the health packs that flicker as if they might be hallucinations. What about judiciously applying that same flickering filter to our foes? To the games corpses? Weapons? Doors? What if once or twice, after an enemy killed us, the Retry screen flickered in and out, then showed us, alive, standing over the battered corpse of the man you believed had just killed you? What if there were an enemy that we’d patiently set up for a stealth kill and dispatched in a particularly grisly fashion, only to see the corpse flicker and disappear; or even more disturbingly–and playing with repetition–get back up as if nothing had happened, requiring us to kill them all over again? If insanity is indeed a central theme in the game, the gameplay ought to reflect that as powerfully as possible, to make me feel like my mind’s playing tricks on me.


Let me return to your opening point about the potential for profundity in repetitive action. I like your brother-in-law; I had the good fortune of accompanying him on the drive from the Atlanta airport to the small town where your wedding took place. While waiting for his bags at the airport, we had a lot of time to talk about his hike, of which he’d completed about a third, along the Appalachian Trail. His reasons for doing the hike were interesting. Some of the stories he told and events he described were compelling. But if your brother-in-law had described every single step that he’d taken on the Appalachian Trail, would that have been deep or meaningful? I don’t think so. It would have been the videogame equivalent of a walkthrough. What he did was pare back, compress, omit, extend, pace, embellish and editorialize–in other words, he created a narrative–so that his *story* about his hike could begin to develop its profundity.

This is what I meant when I said that it’s difficult to “read” or derive much meaning from a game. That’s why in our three Vs. Modes, we ultimately don’t spend very much time talking about or analyzing the experience of playing a game, because it’s hard to do so without turning our emails into “I went here. I did this. I picked that up.” Which is, after all, what games are. So if the essence of a game is located in what we do, is a walkthrough–go here, do this, pick up that–the most truthful way to write about the experience of playing a game? I hope not. But it’s something we should consider. Once again, if the essence of any game is located in its action, reaction, interaction, and the rules which circumscribe those three elements, what does the narrative do? It provides some context for each of the above. But if the meat of the game were in its narrative–even in the most story-oriented RPGs like “Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” or “Final Fantasy XII,” which must deploy shards of context far more frequently than do action games like “God of War II” or “Halo 2“–I’d say that Bethesda Softworks and Square Enix were working in the wrong medium.

Now, choice and consequence–which Next Generation columnist Eric-Jon Rossel Waugh recently argued are essential to making games that are more grown-up–are an excellent place to embed meaning. After delivering an extended jeremiad about what games currently are, and some recommendations about where they could go, Waugh wrote:

“So assuming we accept all of this, what’s the alternative? Better videogames, is all. Videogames that actually do what videogames are supposed to do: present circumstances in which the player may make meaningful decisions, with real human consequences, and allow a nuanced range and quality of response.

“That sounds nice. What does it mean, though? It means emotional consequences: remorse, shame, pride, relief, affection. Making the player feel the effect of his decisions. If the actual videogame takes place in the space between the mind and the machine, then it follows that the player should bear at least half the responsibility. The trick is to quit quantifying everything. Instead of experience points and power-ups, allow the player the freedom and nuance to develop and perfect his own skills and methods. (The Wii should help here.) Instead of offering trinkets and material rewards, offer the insight needed to further empower the player in his decision-making. Instead of compelling the player to act, persuade him. Instead of showing the player cutscenes, telling him how he is supposed to feel, give him difficult choices with emotional ramifications, and let him find his own meaning.

The thing is, choices and consequences in video games sit on top of repetitive action, reaction and interaction. To remix what you wrote above, adding a “Manhunt 2″ bass line: rip open the chest of “Oblivion” and you’ll find the beating heart of “Pac-Man” inside. Waugh is arguing that videogame developers should, like Adam and Eve after eating from the tree of knowledge, conceal the naked truth of what their medium really is. Maybe he’s right that videogames should quit quantifying everything, but they can’t; those numbers that he resents are part and parcel of a game’s rules and systems. All a developer can do is hide the numbers, but they’ll never go away. Waugh favors the offering of insight into better decision-making over that of trinkets and material rewards, but games aren’t particularly good at the former, while they excel at the latter. And as for difficult choices with emotional ramifications, well that’s a worthy goal, but you can’t make a game entirely from difficult choices–not if you want those choices to have emotional ramifications–which means that there’s still going to be plenty of that repetitive action that Waugh doesn’t much care for.

I find myself more in agreement with David Jaffe, who responded to Waugh in comments and on his own blog by writing.

“Great article and as someone who has struggled with this issue before (as a designer with my own games and as a player: a game like Facade” comes to mind as something I’ve played that has set its sights on the lofty goals you suggest we pursue), I can tell you that many designers have the intent and some of us lucky ones even have the freedom to puruse [sic] the goal of making games matter more than they currently do. The biggest issue I’ve come up against–besides my clear lack of talent–is the inability to convince players that the fiction matters. Unless you- as a player- make a clumsy self-conscience effort to force yourself to buy into the fiction, you are always aware that the game world is meaningless in any context other than the surface goals given (i.e. get thru the door; kill the enemies). So in “Facade,” instead of caring about the fate of this young couple’s marriage, I just went around and either started messing with things to see what would happen (kissing the man’s wife was the very first thing I did, ignoring the fiction of the scenario alltogether [sic] because I wanted to see what would happen), or I just focus on how to ’win’. It’s not because I don’t WANT to care about the story and scenario. I love character stories and political drama and all sorts of ’mature’ subject matter when I see it in movies and read about it in books. It’s just that- in a game- I simply don’t care about anything other than my goals. Until we figure out how–if it’s even possible in an interactive experience–to make players suspend disbelief and really buy into the wolrd [sic] fiction (while they are playing, not by watching a cut scene), then all of the effort that would go into making players care for characters and situations will be wasted on all those other than the few willing to force themselves into buying the fantasy…and I don’t think that is close to even 5% of the folks who go into EB and buy the latest hit title.

“Again, loved the write up. It was great and thought provoking. But I would love to see someone address what I feel is the real problem with this issue versus simply telling us designers that the solve is coming up with characters we care about and scenarios more involved than: kill the bad guys! We get that, and some of us have even done it. It’s just not working.”

Still, as much as I like to be black-and-white in my writing, the problem of meaning vs. interactivity is not a zero-sum game between Waugh’s theories and Jaffe’s practice. Even though Kojima is certainly cheating with the attenuated cutscenes in “Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater,” the cumulative effect of the Socratic exchanges between Snake and the bosses he encounters on the battlefield culminates in an emotionally powerful conclusion when he finally faces off against the Boss, kicks her ass and takes her name–I mean, defeats her and assumes her title. (I’d still like him to embed more of that directly into the gameplay, however.) One of the security guards at Newsweek, who is a huge fan of “Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion,” will regale me from time to time with stories of his experiences, and he’s definitely having some complicated emotional responses to the choices he makes. (Being a gamer, though, complicated emotional responses aren’t getting in the way of him pursuing his objectives.) Ken Levine is adamant that “BioShock” is in its bones a first-person shooter, and it is unquestionably so, but he’s worked some morally problematic choices into the gameplay from time to time, and I can’t wait to play it to see how that makes me feel.

Finally, I spent yesterday at Electronic Arts’ Los Angeles studio looking at a game that Steven Spielberg is working on with Doug Church. I can’t talk about it just yet–sorry!–but I will say that I was impressed by the ways in which they’re building an experience that could, if successful, take a pretty big baby step towards addressing some of Waugh’s objections about videogames without surrendering any of its action-adventure credentials. It’s going to be a slow, halting process, however, to get action-adventure games to move in this direction in a manner that truly works. And even if developers succeed, we the gamers will always have a certain degree of double consciousness when it comes to our play; we’ll always keep the underlying mechanics in mind even as the fiction becomes more seamless and all-encompassing. So to Waugh, I say that games will forever be games, so make your peace with that fact; and to Jaffe, I say that we frogs are already in the pot of boiling water, so if you gradually turn up the heat by embedding a little more meaning into every game that you makes, we’re probably not going to jump out.

A couple of quick points before my hour on the stage comes to a close:

1. We’ll have to agree to disagree about the added immersiveness of the Wii controller when it comes to “Manhunt 2″. “They don’t force you to imitate exactly what Daniel Lamb does on-screen, but the spirit of the player’s and Daniel’s actions are the same,” you wrote. That’s true, but I found myself intently focused on the icons in the upper left corner of the screen so that I could match the Simon Says-like mini-game, rather than the execution kills themselves. And even though that wasn’t enough “alleviation or distancing” for the British Board of Film Classification, it was too much for me. I wish that Rockstar had taken a page from the Wii version of Electronic Arts’ “The Godfather” and given me a set of gestural controls that mapped onto real life movements, then let me handle each execution in a free-form, improvised manner. As I said in my last entry, they might have gotten a Seniors Only rating for my version, but why just use the Wii’s controls as little more than button presses with the added sensation of gesture without the accompanying freedom that gestures allow? I guess open killing went a bit too far for even the masters of the open world game.

2. In your second post, you asked me whether I thought “Manhunt 2″ was edgier than the first. I actually think that the experience that I had playing the original game was more disturbing, but I suspect that the various ratings bodies were more freaked out by the newfound presence of sexual themes in what is also an extremely violent game. That, along with the use of the Wii remote; the environmental kills, like the iron maiden execution opportunity that you botched; the non-interactive sequence in which someone’s tongue is severed with a wire cutter; and an earlier scene that looked a lot like the aftermath of a castration–yes, all of that seems a step beyond what I remember of the first “Manhunt.” We’re hearing that Rockstar is trying to make alterations to the game in hopes of securing a new rating, but even if Seth Schiesel over at the New York Times believes that removing the most intense executions from each weapon will put Rockstar in the clear; I remain skeptical about their chances.

Putting myself in the mind of the ESRB and the public relations challenge they will face if a revised “Manhunt 2″ hits the market, I think they may require that Rockstar completely jettison the sexually themed content. The Wii version may have to be scrapped entirely because of the gestural controls, which won’t play well on the six o’clock news and YouTube videos. The PSP version could be a vulnerable because of its portability. As for the Brits and the Irish, I don’t see how they can approve it even if changes are made, given their public statements. The BBFC said that the context of “Manhunt 2″ is objectionable, the IFCO said that there is no context. (C’mon, guys; which is it?)

The irony is that with stealth games, you have to think, which involves distancing yourself from the game’s content to focus on its mechanics. You have to focus on the underlying rules more than you would an action game, which is mostly stimulus-response. Shouldn’t a game like “God of War II,” where you can rack up a massive body count without that much thought, be of far more concern to raters? Then again, perhaps it is precisely that amount of thought and forethought that freaked them out, like the difference between manslaughter and murder. And when you think about the amount of clinical death and destruction in real-time strategy games like “Supreme Commander” and “Command & Conquer Generals 3,” perhaps Stalin was right: one death is a tragedy, 200 gruesome deaths is ban-worthy, and a million clinical deaths is E10+ for Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language.

3. The other interesting thing about Schiesel’s piece about the three hours he spent playing “Manhunt 2″ was the snippets of his conversation with Strauss Zelnick, the new chairman of Take-Two. Zelnick, showing either his naivete or his lack of familiarity with the medium, attempted to defend “Manhunt 2″ on the grounds that it’s not photorealistic (that’s technically true, but what’s his defense going to be when the PS9 ships?)–and that it’s tame compared to movies like “Hostel” or “Saw” (qualitatively, yes, but quantitatively, there are far more killings in “Manhunt 2″ because of its repetitive action, reaction and interaction). These are losing arguments. All he needs to say is that it’s not real.

That’s it for me, Stephen. Thanks for the exchange. It looks as though your wish has been granted and other people are picking up the conversational torch. I hope we’ll get to play the rest of “Manhunt 2″ someday, in whatever form it finally takes. And as you hinted at in your final words, we’re planning to tackle small games in our next Vs. Mode. Will shorter posts ensue? We shall see.



So, for the second time, the Pharisees summoned the man who had been blind and said: “Speak the truth before God. We know this fellow is a sinner.”
“Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know,” the man replied. “All I know is this: Once I was blind and now I can see.”
–Final title card from “Raging Bull,” taken from the New English bible, John IX, 24-26