Saturday, 16 March 2013

Game 30: Manhunter 2 - Introduction


It says 1989 at the bottom, but it sure doesn't look like it!

Game 30 on the playlist is the sequel to Manhunter: New York, a game I enjoyed quite a bit despite some technical flaws and illogical puzzle solutions. This time, as the title suggests, the game will be set in San Francisco, and it follows on directly from the events of the first game (which closed with the unnamed protagonist hopping into an alien craft and chasing the antagonist Phil Cook out of the city). The sequel was published in 1989 by Sierra On-Line, and was once again created by Evryware, a company owned and run by the Murry family (Barry, Dave and Dee Dee). The only non-Murry credit associated with the game is that of Barbara Ward, who apparently assisted with “additional story”, although I can’t see her name attached to any other games.


I like this cover. It's suitably dark and is immediately recognisable due to the monk robes

The Murry’s chose San Francisco because they wanted the game to be based somewhere on the west coast of America, and they felt the city had the most recognizable landmarks. As with New York, the family flew down to the locations that eventually ended up in the game, re-enacting the scenes they’d written and taking photographs to make sure the result was as accurate as possible. It’s immediately noticable when looking at screenshots that Manhunter 2 was built using the same engine as the first game, which is Sierra’s AGI engine. In fact, it was the last game ever produced using that engine, as Sierra had already released a stack of games that utilized their much improved SCI technology. Obviously I’ve played through all of those games in recent months, which will undoubtedly make Manhunter 2 struggle to impress technically, particularly on the graphics and sound fronts.


Goodbye New York

I’m not certain whether the Murry’s were forced to use AGI rather than SCI by Sierra (since they weren’t internal employees) or whether they chose to due to their previous experience with it and the modifications they’d already made while making the first game, but it can’t have helped the critical response and sales on release. I’ve only watched the introduction so far and I’m shocked at how bad the visuals and sound are, even though it has only been a year (one release year that is) since the last one. I’m also dubious as to whether the game is going to break any new ground in any other way. The story once again involves tracking down Phil Cook by investigating his murders, it utilises the same MAD tracking device to do so, and from what I understand, include numerous arcade mini-games just as the first one did. Despite all these reservations, I’ll be giving Manhunter 2 every opportunity to impress me, and I’m very keen to see whether I can get through it unassisted (Jarikith’s mocking laughter in a recent comment suggests I might be in for a rocky ride).


Hello San Francisco

I can’t find the game available for sale anywhere, so I’ve downloaded a DOS version copy which I’ll be running through SCUMMVM. I’ve started using SCUMMVM over DOSBox recently because I can take screenshots really easily and in high resolution. That makes a lot of difference for me while I attempt to blog my way through. I’ve also found a quick reference card and a copy of the original manual, which once again is called a Manhunter’s Field Guide. It’s set out in the same way as the Field Guide that came with the first game, although it does contain a note written by the protagonist while pursuing Phil in the alien craft that helps set the scene. How he wrote a two page note while controlling the craft is anyone’s guess, but it helped remind me of some of the game mechanics. I’ll begin the game tomorrow and can’t help but wonder whether this will be the game that someone places an assistance bet on. Anyone dare challenge me?


I guess I can't criticise the Manhunter for writing journal entries while on the job

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've recently written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 points (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle unassisted (see below for an example). If you get it right I will reward you with 80 points in return (it's going to keep going up until someone beats me)! It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw, which I'm yet to figure out the form of (we'll cross that bridge when we get there).

Example Bet:

Fcrag gbb zhpu gvzr va snagnfl
Pbhyq uneqyl gryy jung jnf erny
Abj guvf puvc vafvqr zl oenva
Fgbcf zr orpbzvat n inzcver zrny

Jub nz V sbe 20 PNCf?

Extra Note: Once again, Lars-Erik will gift the next readily available game on the list to the reader that correctly predicts what score I will give this game. So, if you predict the right score (or are closest), you will get 10 CAPs and a copy of Tex Murphy 1 & 2 from GOG! Good luck!

30 comments:

  1. Another one I've never played. Considering that this one seems to be a straight followup from the first one without much thought to improving either the game play or technology, I can't say it tempts me much to do it either. It'll be interesting to see how it differs from the first one, if at all.

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  2. I'll go with the same score as Manhunter; 47.

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    Replies
    1. Also, that opening seems more coherent then the last one, at least.

      Delete
  3. I've never even heard of this one! Where have I been all these years haha!

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  4. Is the answer to the example bet: Enafbz Fgnex sebz OybbqARG?

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    1. Oh and my guess will be 46 for the score.

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    2. Man, you guys are damn good! Ransom Stark is correct!

      I've started choosing games that are relatively unknown, but you keep on solving them with little trouble. Did you know this one or was Google involved?

      20 CAPs to Andy_Panthro!

      Delete
    3. I immediately knew which game it was. :) But alas, I was at work.

      Delete
    4. As soon as I read it, only one game came to mind. It was then just a case of finding out the name of the protagonist, which required a trip to mobygames.

      I've never actually played it, but read about it a couple of times. It's an odd one, which is why I guess I remembered it.

      Delete
    5. I have actually played it.. and as usual I have the instructions around here some place. :P It was an interesting one, blending as it did Cyberpunk and Vampires.

      Delete
  5. Yeah, I think I'll guess 48. I actually bought Manhunter 2 way back when and I think I liked it more than the first. I don't recall why.

    Sigh, Andy_Panthro beat me to the challenge; I'm pretty sure his answer is the correct one.

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  6. Yes Trickster, I'll place a bet that you'll have to ask assistance, because lbh'yy erfgber nsgre orvat rngra ol n zbafgre naq qba'g abgvpr vg'f nyy cneg bs gur cybg.

    I am really not sure whether this will fare better or worse than the first game. It does have a more complex plot, but in places it makes less sense. I'll guess 45.

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    1. I was going to make the same bet - I think this one is among the worst puzzles of all time. On the other hand, it is possible that you complete the whole game, and do not even notice the particular puzzle :)

      Anyway, I liked this game more than Manhunter 1. But as Ilmari says, the plot might be even more confusing than in the first one. It had many good elements, but at the end it just doesn't make too much sense... I will guess 49.

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    2. There was a moment in a different game where I had almost the same issue, and in the days before the internet you couldn't even look it up!

      Also, I think you need to state how many CAPs you are betting with? (can't quite remember the rules for these bets)

      Delete
    3. Just checked the rules, it's always 10 CAPs.

      Delete
    4. Wow, that does seem like fbzrguvat Gevpxfgre jbhyq qb, qbrfa'g vg?

      Delete
    5. Um....what monster? I don't recall anything like this in the game, so I'm not sure whether to deduct CAPs or not.

      Intrigued!

      Delete
    6. The rat mutant at the end of the sewer pipe in day 1. After getting killed by it, the Murrys should say something like "let's go back a step" and you'll be restored back to the position before entering the pipe, except now you would know that there is a mutant in the pipe. This is also something you have to go through, in order that the game would advance to day 2. Feel free to deduct the 10 points :)

      Delete
  7. I will also make a bet:

    Lbh jba'g or noyr gb trg gur ivfvba bs gur tvey / zbafgre, ol fzbxvat gur cvcr jvgu pbeerpg vaterqvragf.

    I think this game has lot's of potential to get you stuck almost anywhere :)

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    Replies
    1. I didn't require assistance for this, so that's -10 CAPs for Fenrus.

      Delete
  8. 43. I think the old graphics engine will hold it back a little. From memory the game is basically more of the same, which meant I liked it despite its problems, though I played on Amiga so I could use my mouse which is a feature I think the pc version is still missing

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  9. Well you enjoyed the first one. Perhaps even with the technical step back of this release you'll still enjoy yourself. We shall see!

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  10. I'm thinking a 42. I agree with TBD, I think the fact that the graphics and sound seeming to go backwards will hold it back. Also gur snpg gung gur tnzr svavfurf ba n pyvss unatre gung jnf arire erfbyirq qhr gb gurer abg orvat n guveq tnzr jvyy wbg uryc znggref. It annoyed the hell out of me and might bring the score down. Don't remember much of this one other than it was incredibly hard and took a group of us to sit around and finish one day and evening and probably well into the night. I'm sure there was beer and pizza involved. Ah, good times. Don't seem to have many games that let you do that anymore. Either that or I'm getting old. Don't remember much of the game but I'm sure it will all com flooding back

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  11. Let's say right in the middle with a 50. Good luck. I really don't know the game to make a bet against you.

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  12. Okay, I'll put a bet on.

    I'm putting 10 of my hard-earned caps on the line to bet that...

    Lbh jba'g or noyr gb svaq bhg Gnq'f fheanzr naq jvyy or fghpx ba gur svefg qnl.

    Actually, you probably will work it out eventually without help, but what the hell. You only live once!

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  13. I'm not about to bet on this horrible excuse of -- er. This lovely game. Nothing makes sense, so every third puzzle solution makes no sense anyway... Uh. 40?

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  14. I'm gonna hazard a 44. Let's see how this fairs with its old timely graphics and whatnot.

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  15. I'll take 41 because I remember this game being pretty darn hard. That and the backwards march in graphics will probably help seal a low score. I wish I got here sooner, I wanted 44 :)

    I'm actually tempted to play these again as an adult because I'm sure as a young teen a lot of the exposition might have been lost on me. This was always a confusing series.

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  16. Re screenshots, DOSBox has its own screenshot capturing command (Crtl+F5), which produces lossless PNG files. If it's resolution you're concerned about, theres a "handy" bug in 0.74 that doubles the capture resolution when machine type is set to vgaonly. Or you could just resize them in an image editing program. :-P

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