Manhunter 2: San Francisco

Publisher: Sierra
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Zzap #64

Manhunter 2: San Francisco

The Orbs have landed and there's nothing to fear but sphere itself [Groan! - Ed]. After first overrunning New York they've now turned their evil intentions on San Francisco, spreading horror, tyranny and death as they go.

In the first game you were enslaved by the Orbs and used as a Manhunter to track down humans resistant to their authoritarian rule. But you eventually regained your senses and you are plotting against your one-time masters. As the game begins, you're in hot pursuit of a ruthless killer as he attempts to escape in an alien craft. You follow as best you can in a similar machine but inexperience at flying such a ship results in your crash-landing in San Francisco.

Luckily your ship has a relatively soft landing atop another Manhunter! He turns out to be one Peter Brown whose corpse thoughtfully provides you with a personal computer. This enables you to track down suspected Orb enemies and glean info from them. Your aim in this sequel is to feign being a loyal Manhunter in fact trying to find the killer who led you here. You also might want to discover what the Orbs are doing in San Francisco.

Manhunter 2: San Francisco

Control of your character is via keyboard, mouse or joystick. Moving the cursor around screens reveals options such as Take, Enter, Move and Examine. But tracking people via your personal computer is the nub of the game: once an area of the city has been revealed to you through tracking a suspect you're free to visit it and take a closer look. People who interact with your trackee may themselves be tracked to help you discover more about the city and the Orb's intentions. Track everybody you can or you may miss a vital clue!

Arcade sequences abound (as in the prequel) and are abominably slow and boring to play even though you have the choice of easy, normal or hard level at which to attempt them. At one point you come across an old warehouse which you have to enter and traverse in order to reach the office at the far end. Viewed from above, your blocky character uses crates to obscure himself from the sensors of patrolling robots as he slowly jerks his way across the screen. Interludes such as this destroy any atmosphere created by the more adventure-orientated sequences of the game and, for me, serve no purpose but to frustrate: if I wanted to waggle a joystick I'd buy Hammerfist.

Both music and graphics are basic compared to the likes of Hero's Quest, Space Quest III or Leisure Suit Larry III. And there has been no attempt to improve on the IBM-PC version of this game - released last year - thus it looks and sounds dated.

If you have a lot of patience and enjoyed the first Manhunter game you may warm to this follow-up, otherwise have a look at it (if your friendly neighbourhood computer store will let you) before you invest. Even though you have to wear a brown robe to be a Manhunter, the game isn't exactly habit-forming.