Saturday 30 March 2013

Game 30: Manhunter 2 - Cook the King of Vermin

Manhunter Journal Entry 5: “I am finally starting to piece everything together, but there is still much that I do not know. Once I figured out that Noah Goring was the scientist behind the mutants, I was able to discover much by investigating his house. Files described why he began his experiments in the first place (to help the Orbs) and it’s clear that at some point he regretted his part in their rapid journey towards the destruction of the planet. I’ve also discovered that the slaves from the mines are helping the Dragon-branded gang to rise up and stop the Orbs' progress, so I’m hoping to join forces with them at some point. For now though, I have a whiff of Phil’s path, and I plan to follow it for as far as it leads me. Taking him down is my number one priority!”

I'm not even certain whose piss this is, let alone what it might be used for!

My last post finished with me investigating the doctor’s house where Phil had recently murdered a slave and the doctor himself. I’d collected urine in my flask from the sample on the desk and also found a letter on the doctor that went some way to explaining the Orbs' purpose on Earth. The letter was signed off by someone named N. Goring, and given the author had talked about his “creations”, I’d figured it was likely to be the man in the newspaper clipping I collected way back at the start of the game. His name in the article was Noah G., so I opened up my MAD and typed in “noah goring” to see whether I was right. I was, and I was rewarded with the profile of the scientist behind all the genetic experimentation, including his address! I had no hesitation in bring up the map and heading straight over to his house to see what I could find.

The man that thought that rat / dog / human mutants was a wonderful idea

My exploration of Noah’s apartment revealed quite a few things of note. Firstly, when I looked through the window I could see Coit Tower, Alcatraz Island and a building called Julius Castle! Could this be the castle that would turn out to be “the Gateway to Hell”? I could only assume so! Unfortunately just seeing it through the window was unlikely to put it on the map so I could visit it, but at least I knew what to look out for. On the table in the apartment was a pack of matches and a white thread and needle. I was able to pick up the matches, but not the thread and needle, which seemed odd. When I looked at the matches, I could see that there was one missing, and the writing on the inside said “Comments to the authors can be sent to: Everyware Dept. MH 2 Box 5204 Olympia, WA 98503”. I assumed that the matches would serve another purpose other than as a contact advertisement, but couldn’t think of any at the time.

Well now I know where it is, can't I just walk on over there? 

Before I could put the matches into my robe, I was shown a rather unusual cut scene. In an underground cavern, a mutant sat upon a throne made out of a car, with bikini clad mutants sitting alongside him. The crown on his head and the cape around his shoulders suggested that this was the king of the mutants, and he had some sort of device in his hand which he waved around in triumph. All of a sudden Phil came charging into the room and stabbed the king to death with a large knife while numerous mutants simply watched. He then picked up the crown and placed it upon his own head, then picked up the device. The Murry’s appeared on screen with the message: “The Rats call Phil King and that’s a bad thing. He came out of the sewer, now he has the Viewer!” I have to say that this whole cut scene was pretty damn laughable, with horrible graphics and animation, not to mention how awful the little “poem” was at the end. Still, it got the point across, and gave me some new information to chew on!

Seriously, I just drew a better rat king on my daughter's magnetic drawing board

So Phil now had the viewer that I’d read about on the sign at the Ferry Building. What was this device? Was I supposed to remember something from the first game? I took a quick look through my old screenshots but couldn’t find any mention of it there. I put the device out of my head for a minute and continued my investigation of the apartment. There were a bunch of folders on the floor with papers spread out around them, and on closer inspection, I was able to read four of them. In order of date, they read as followed: “5/11/02 – Received Orb Directive! A better worker is needed in the harsh environment below. Humans tire and die much too quickly! My talents will finally be put to use. A Glorious Day indeed!” “27/9/03 – Eureka! After many failed experiments, the new Rat/Dog/Human subjects appear to have all the right qualities. 100 are being tested below. Confidence is high...” 7/1/04 – FAILURE. Test subjects could not withstand unexpected dry heat encountered below. Orbs are angry. Must Not Fail Again! Subjects loyal to the Orbs to be released in the Fisherman’s Wharf area...” 20/8/04 – What have I done!? I have been a pawn in their evil plan! They are almost there! I must save mankind. But what can I do?”

Am I supposed to think that Noah left in a rush or that someone has broken in and gone through his stuff?

Hmmmm... So Noah Goring was creating mutants to help the Orbs do whatever it is they’re doing beneath the Earth’s surface. Noah’s letter I found on the doctor suggested their aim was to kill the Earth so that they could live, but I knew no more than that at this stage. At some point Noah had begun regretting his work for the Orbs and begun trying to save mankind, and the letter also suggested that the Orb’s suspected that he had “the card”. I don’t know what the card might be, but it’s obviously important to the Orbs and Noah had intended to deliver it to the doctor. Could it have something to do with the slave that was “delivered” to the doctor? I couldn’t see how, but it might be worth another look at some point. Perhaps it was what Phil was after when he raided the doctor’s home and killed both he and the slave! Man, this game really drip-feeds information to the player!

This is too random to not have a purpose at some point

Before I left the scientist’s house, I tried using a few items with the needle and thread. I doubt it’s there for no reason at all, but I had no luck with anything in my inventory at the time. I then opened up my MAD and checked the tracker recording to see where the two suspects that left the slave at the doctor’s house went next. Interestingly, they split up shortly afterwards, just as a third marker entered the screen at high speed. The marker I was viewing left the screen just as the other two markers were about to collide, but I decided to see where the one I had would end up for now. As soon as I saw that its next destination was a laundry, I got pretty excited. Finally I was going to have a place that I can use the laundry receipt I’d picked up outside the Bank of Canton on Day 1. The suspect entered the laundry and joined up with two other people inside. It was here that the target movement ended, so I brought up my map and eagerly made my way to the laundry to see what happened there.

A laundry! Could this be an obvious puzzle solution!?

On arrival I was very disappointed to find that the laundry was closed. I’d figured I would be able to break in somehow, but my pixel hunting revealed nothing and I wasn’t able to use any of my items on the door (including my mallet). It appeared that whatever I was going to do at the laundry wasn’t going to happen just yet. I therefore opened up my MAD and ran through the tracker recording, this time switching to the second suspect prior to reaching the doctor’s house. As expected, the two suspects separated shortly after leaving the house, and the third marker entered the screen and raced towards my current marker. Just before the two markers collided, my suspect entered a cable car barn. Apparently on a cable car, the suspect marker followed what I assumed was a track, before jumping off and spending some time in front of one of the nine boxes held within some sort of boundary. After a short amount a time, an opening appeared in the boundary which the suspect moved through.

Hmmmm...what did he do to cause that opening in the boundary?

The suspect then spent some time standing in front of what looked like a stationary cable car, at which point a slave entered the room, interacted with the suspect, and then exited through the opening they’d originated from. At the same time as this took place, the red marker I’d seen racing across the screen outside entered the cable car barn and got into a scuffle with the suspect. Clearly the victor of the confrontation, this marker (which I assumed was Phil) left the suspect I was following in the cable car and then left the barn. The recording stopped at this point, so I brought up my map and went straight to the cable car barn to try and figure out what the hell just happened! Standing outside the barn, I had two entrances to choose from, being a set of glass doors and an archway through which I could see the cable cars passing by. I chose the glass doors, through which I could watch what was going on within the large room. I watched as the cable car followed the track through the room while robots whizzed around dangerously. I noticed that the robots stopped to let the car pass whenever it was near, but other than that I could find nothing of interest to do or see through this entrance.

Great! More robots!

I left the room and entered the archway, which caused my character to hop on the cable car and begin the route through the room. If I stayed on the car long enough, it would simply pass back out of the barn, leaving me standing outside, so I was going to have to hop off at some point. I soon found out that touching any of the orange sections of the screen, including the rectangular boundary, fried me, so I was going to have to figure out what the suspect did to make the opening in the boundary appear. After a few failed attempts I made it to the box that the suspect had interacted with, at which point my view changed to a singular large lever. Pulling the lever opened up the section in the boundary, and I raced through without getting hit by one of the robots. As soon as I was through, my character automatically moved up to the stationary car that the suspect had visited, and eventually been left in.

Another "avoid the robot" arcade section

Here my view changed and I was able to investigate the stationary cable car. The first thing I discovered was some advertising on the side of the car for Manhunter: New York and most interestingly, Manhunter: London. I’d read that the Murry’s had planned to make a third Manhunter game based in London, but I hadn’t realised that they’d gone as far as advertising it within Manhunter: San Francisco. The second thing I discovered was the body of the suspect, stuffed in the side of the car alongside numerous other bodies. Having a closer look revealed that the suspect was part of the dragon gang (he had the dragon branding on his hand), and it also revealed that his killer was indeed Phil Cook (the body had a P carved into its forehead). Most importantly though, I found a note stuffed in the suspect’s belt, which I eagerly removed and read. “STOP THEM! They have almost reached life. Bring us to Hell and we will show you Freedom. Beware the Surface Robots. Please Hurry!”

I'm assuming that writing says "London". It could be anything!

If my guess was correct, this note was given to the dragon member by the slave, which meant the slaves wanted to be taken to Hell (which I figured would be accessed from within Julius Castle) and that they could help stop the Orbs from achieving their goal. It also seemed likely that the slave I saved from captivity might be the key once I got to that point, but despite having a pretty good idea of what was going to happen later, I was going to have to follow other leads first. That meant loading up my tracker recording and watching to see where Phil Cook went after he murdered the suspect in the cable car barn. I really hope that following him will open up other leads for me, as I’m rapidly running out. I’m still very intrigued by Manhunter 2! It’s more complicated than the first game for sure, but I’m enjoying the challenge. I still have that feeling that I’ll be completely stuck any moment now, but am making progress nonetheless. I’m about to get back to it, so here’s hoping for another successful session.

Some of the corpses in this game look like they're moments away from reanimating

Session Time: 1 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 00 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've 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. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. I apologise if these Manhunter posts are a bit of a chore to read. I'm trying to put in my thought processes throughout, as the game mechanics alone would not be particularly interesting to read about I'm sure. It's really quite hard to describe what's going on without repeating myself, particularly when describing what occurs on the tracker recordings.

    1. I cannot speak on the behalf of readers who are not familiar with MH:SF, but to me these posts have been really entertaining to read. It must also be really beneficial to document your thought process, in order to get into the complex / confusing plot.

      Keep up the good work!

    2. I'd tend to agree with Fenrus on this matter. It's actually interesting to read yoursynopsis on the game plot as it comes through, as I always felt that Manhunter was quite difficult to work out as far as actual motivation for characters and the like (making the plot pretty hard to follow! Okay, Goring here has clear motivation in "if I do as I have been the Earth is toast" - but past him and the ratman trying to cure himself, why are all of the other characters being such immense arses to our Manhunting protagonist? Like in the first game with the bar and the little initiation ritual with the throwing knives, your coworkers seemed ambivalent about your death - if they even were fellow Manhunters, I just figured from the brown robes... I've played through the games and still can't answer that one!) So yeah, I at least am thoroughly enjoying the read just to see how it compares to my own mindset.

      That said I also want to campaign for the readers to make you play Les Manley 1... Maybe I'm just a sadist?

    3. Yep, agree with the other posters here. As I commented on an earlier MH-post as well, the story is interesting. I tend to read these posts nearer how I read a book as they are somehow less "gamey". It makes for a nice chance of pace.

    4. I like your posts of the Manhunter games :)

    5. A bit late to the party, but I agree with everyone that there's no worry these posts would have been boring. Instead, it feels rewarding that we've finally reached some games where there's some actual plot to discuss and it is also interesting to see how you put the pieces of the puzzle together.

  2. These posts are actually quite intriguing. They put me in the unusual position of being much more interested in the game plot (serialized in your writing) than the game engine. This is the opposite of the usual scenario, where I couldn't care less about the game's story (King's Quest I, Quest for Glory III, et al) but the engine is incredible and carries the game through engagement.

  3. Yeah, I'm enjoying these, though the are a touch harder to read that some other games. Don't sweat it.

  4. +1 to your writing style, it makes following along with your gaming very interesting and this blog is something I look forward to reading with each new post. Manhunter was certainly one of the least straightforward plots of the Sierra games. It's darker, violent, and strays far from the typical fantasy storytelling of the Sierra games that had come before it.

    I think you've given me enough details that I can go back and remember my own playthrough and may even try to complete it again someday. But for now I'm satiated by your experiences.

  5. Thanks everyone. I wasn't fishing for compliments, but your assurances are welcome. I'd hate to find that I was boring the crap out of everyone after all this effort.

  6. I've come across another game that I'm not completely sure about. Has anyone played Indigo Prophect (aka Fahrenheit)? It looks like an adventure game, but seems to have a lot of action sequences.

    Should I consider it to be an adventure game (leaving it Borderline) or not (leaving it Disregarded)?

    1. Fahrenheit is some strange mix :P

      At the beginning its great game, with murder mystery plot, but later when you play it became worse and worse. At the end story is shity and confusing.

      My brother and I played the game but we have mixed feeling about it. Game is adventure but not PnC. It has QTE events, and it more than one ending depend on player actions during game. It has also sexy scenes and on PC there is Uncut version.

      I don't know if you are familiar with David Cage but he is famous for work on Heavy Rain and Omikron: Nomad Souls.

      Reviews of game are positive but we didn't like it. I remember that there are some moments in game where we started few times again because we didn't finish quick time event and we died. There were some frustrating moments.

      Here is official trailer of game:

      There are 2 lead characters: Male (Lucas Kane) and Female (Carla Valenti). As I said earlier, for me at some point in the middle game became silly and story became worst.

      There is interesting Mental Health concept.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. Fahrenheit -is- an adventure game.. but I'd not exactly call it a particularly good one (as it's a touch railroaded despite all of the different things you can actually do.)

      On a different note, I finished Spycraft over Easter.. It -is- an adventure, also, but the pacing is very strange - and they essentially tried a bazillion different things all at once (for instance, there's a couple of short 'shooter' sections, some timed events that you need to react within a few seconds, several 'find the hidden thing' style puzzles) making it feel less an adventure. Though each of these are similar to Manhunter in that aspect - we've come to expect the King's Quest / Monkey Island sort of 'item reacts with another item/character' form of adventure, making this odd offshoot or two harder to categorise, I suppose.

      That said, I'd be remiss not to call them adventures, as they really are.

    5. Borderline I'd say. It's definitely moving away from point & click and more towards 3D adventure search and try.

    6. Oh man, you have to do Fahrenheit. I just missed my change to watch a playthrough of it when it lost Super Replay Challenge (Season 2), so I would love it if that made your list.

  7. I was one of the apparently few who enjoyed Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy ... but I freely admit the story goes way, way off the rails by the end, and the QTEs become terrible annoying after a while.

    I also was given a copy of Spycraft long, long ago and also remember it being a crazy hodgepodge. However, due to a strange circumstance I actually expected that and so enjoyed it. If anyone is curious, that circumstance is that the first and by far the most influential spy/espionage game I ever played was Covert Action by MicroProse - which is really just a collection of minigames. So when I encountered something like Spycraft, it seemed like the natural extension. Odd how that worked.

    Speaking of espionage/borderline adventure games, anyone here every play Golgo 13 for the NES, or its sequel, The Mafat Conspiracy? Really interesting odd ducks, gems for their age. I would love to mention more, but spoilers but surely leak out of the cracks in my praise.

    1. I have Indigo Prophecy for the PC and it's on the long list of games I'm interested in playing. I did do the first Golgo 13 game and yeah, it was pretty cool. I got stuck in one of the maze-like first person sections and this was on an actual NES, so power off meant game over. I wouldn't mind giving it another shot though.

  8. For the record, at your current rate of play you are finishing 1.8 games a month. This means you will finish your entire accepted list in about 6.66 years at your current pace doing all the accepted games, and just under 12 years if you do every boarderline game.

    I suspect you'll do this faster then projected though, as you'll get better and better at adventure games as you go along.

  9. In other news, the blog that got me into Chron gaming is having a kickstarter to help the author make new episodes. He does cover NES adventure games when they come up, and has coupled a few of the adventure games that Trickster has in the past, mostly what he calls Portopia style adventure games.

    Anyway, his Kickstarter is still in review, but I couldn't let someone else steal the delicious, delicious caps, errr, I mean, I was so excited I just had to bring you the news, so here is the link to the blog post.

  10. I finally beat the game! That swordfight on top of the zeppelin was really strange, as was having the Murrys turn into giant robots for that minigame. What did you think about it?

    1. Damn damn damn, Trickster can you delete that without reading it so I don't lose spoiler points?

    2. Sorry I forgot to ROT13 that.

      Ncevy sbbyf.

    3. I'm calling your bluff on that one Canageek. :)

      Totally forgot to do an April Fool's post this year! Damn Easter!

    4. It was worth a try, wasn't it? If I'd been thinking I would have contacted someone else and set this up ahead of time, with a fake playthough and such.

  11. In other news, since you've been talking about games way in the future, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is worth a look. I'm 2 hours in and the player has only seen one foe, from which he hid, and most of his time has been spent exploring the environment, looking at scraps of paper, collecting inventory items and solving puzzles. Seems like an adventure game to me.