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Joe Horn and Rockstar Games' Manhunt
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Old 16 Dec 2003, 03:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Joe Horn and Rockstar Games' Manhunt

Since Sunday, a lot of people are riding Joe Horn for his latest endzone cell-ebration. Honestly, I thought it was a lame attempt to get the kind of exposure that guys like TO and Randy Moss get. The problem is that TO and Moss were already recognized as the best in the business when their antics really came to their peaks. While Horn was regarded as a good receiver, after Sunday's shenanigans I've lost some respect for him.

That's where censorship lightning rod Rockstar Games comes in. While they're all over the news with seperate issues over their GTA series, they have taken extra inches now that New Zealand has placed a ban on the sale or rental of their latest game, Manhunt. Manhunt is a cross between The Running Man (movie version) and a snuff flick. The playable character is to kill people using different implements, many of them crude to the point of violent pornography.

Honestly, the game as a whole has no interest for me. While the premise is initially interesting, reviewers say it becomes repetitive and boring, not to mention morally bankrupt...moreso than the most subversive GTA ever, GTA2. It's generated publicity because it's reprehensible and that will no doubt contribute to a spike in sales. At the end of the day however it's ridiculous for me to drop the coin necessary to get a new game for one that offers nothing other than stealth kill missions and graphic views of said kills.

This leads me to my question: Is this game the result of a creative brainstorm and a moment of inspiration or is this a calculated stab at the censorship zealots/people who buy games under censorship fire? The static over game content and the influence it has on minors has been building to a head. This game appears to have been developed specifically to push it over the edge.

Rockstar caters almost exclusively to the criminal counterculture. Their games include: State of Emergency, where you are in the middle of a series of riots and must gun down corportate/gov't soldiers to stage a revolution; Smuggler's Run, a racer variant has you running guns, drugs and/or other assorted contraband; Grand Theft Auto...needs no further explaination, I'm sure; Midnight Club, an illegal street racer.

Rockstar's games that I just listed are tremendous. They're creative and entertaining to the nth degree. Midnight Club II for example is one of the most addictive racers I've played since SSX Tricky. I'm a GTA junkie. I love a good car chase that includes multiple explosions and civil servant/civilian casualties, and I prefer when they end with the playable character in the middle of the street, guns blazing as the National Guard cuts him down in spectacular fashion.

I don't know where I personally draw the line, but it's somewhere between gunfights in the middle of the street and watching the plastic baggie puff in and out as you asphyxiate your target. Manhunt is just something I can't get into. It seems that your sole objective in that game is to kill and kill again, kill gruesome and kill more gruesomely.

IMO, Rockstar made this game only to generate controversy. This game is guaranteed to sell at least half a million copies based on the press it's gotten and is sure to get from mainstream media outlets who otherwise wouldn't have viewed the game. The ESRB has done a great job in rating these games and the action that will spring from this will only put them under hostile and unecessary scrutiny.

I'm not going to boycott Rockstar. I love their games and future games will be excellent, I'm sure. I don't think New Zealand should've banned the game; censorship is wrong. If rental and sales outlets are forced to comply with the ESRB ratings when renting and selling video games, then that is cool. Children under certain ages shouldn't be exposed to a lot of what goes on in games without parental supervision. But the zealots are going to be screaming for a ban on all games of this sort, and that is going to take a lot of work to overcome.

Rockstar is helping them facilitate their dream of telling us what we can and can't do, say, read, watch, play and think. I hope they realize that and moving forward only put out games with merit in the future. While GTA is subversive, it has creative and intelligent merit to it. Manhunt appears to have none, and this stupid game may be the catalyst for litigation that the gaming industry doesn't need.

Late.
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