The Earth has been invaded by the Orb Alliance, and a tightly restricted regime instituted for the humans that remain. Brown monk robes are the only garments allowed, speaking is a capital offense, and every human has been implanted with a tracking chip recording their every move. To track down criminals, the Orbs enlist "Manhunters" - humans given access to advanced technology and selected to be a combination of police officers and bounty hunters. The player controls one such Manhunter as he unravels a conspiracy inside the decaying heart of the New York ruins, and a mysterious serial killer on the loose.
Each chapter begins with the Orbs assigning the player's nameless Manhunter with a crime (such as murder) or target to investigate. The player gains leads through the use of the "MAD" computer, which displays the logs of all civilian movement in an area in an overhead map view. By starting with the victim and following the people who encountered him that day, the player can then go to a first-person investigation view at various New York landmarks to find clues to the suspect's identity. At the end of the day, the player must report the correct name of their suspect to the Orbs.
Manhunter uses a modified version of Sierra's AGI interpreter, with a rudimentary point-and-click interface used to locate and uncover clues at the investigation sites. At various times throughout the investigation, the player will also have to directly control the Manhunter in arcade-style challenges, like dodging gang attacks or throwing knives between a bar patron's fingers.
In the midst of all the Kings Quest and Leisure Suit Larry games that Sierra was putting out in the late 1980s they also published a somewhat forgotten duo of games named Manhunter: New York and Manhunter: San Francisco. The Manhunter games were unique at the time as they were one of the first Sierra games to play from a first person perspective. They also deviated from the somewhat tiresome text parsing game play that Sierra had relied on until then.
Manhunter: New York is a point and click adventure game. Well, maybe not so much click. Even though the game utilizes a pointer it is controlled by the keyboard arrow keys and not a mouse. The game doesn't have outstanding graphics, even for that period. It doesn't have a richly developed storyline, either. What it does have is just enough plot and just enough mystery and adventure to keep most people interested.
Manhunter is puzzle driven with some arcade style action sequences thrown in. While the NPC character development is very weak (mostly because they are dead by the time you find them), it is your detective skills in tracking the non-playing characters and determining their motives that makes the game interesting. Some of the puzzles will test you. They are not easy but they are not ridiculous either. If you can solve the game without a walkthrough you will be left with a true sense of satisfaction. Be prepared to die, you will. Dying does not mean starting over from a saved game, however. When you die the game developers, dressed in their manhunter robes, will appear on screen and taunt you before sending you back into the game at the point where you died to try again. You are allowed to save your games and, fortunately, you are allowed to save smack dab in the middle of some of the arcade/action sequences. That is a good thing for people like me with little or no reflexes.
The game begins in the future. The year 2002 to be exact (ahem). Aliens have invaded New York and taken over the city. Being that the aliens have no arms and legs (only eyeballs lol) they must recruit humans to do the work of policing the population and eliminating any threats to the alien rule. The aliens have implanted tracking devices inside all the humans so that their movements can be monitored at all times. Each manhunter is equipped with a MAD device that allows them to track and record the movements of all suspect humans. The MAD also contains a database that is used to catalogue information on the characters encountered in the game. Your use of the MAD is a key to succeeding in the game. (NOTE: The game manual, or manhunter's field guide, describes the MAD device and it's use in detail. You really need to download and read the Field Guide.) Travel is accomplished through a map by pointing at the desired location and pressing ENTER. New destinations will be revealed on the map as new clues are found and new cases are assigned to you.
Your part in the game begins two years after the invasion. You are one of the privileged manhunters and are rousted form your slumber by one of the aliens who is directing you to investigate a case involving an explosion and murder at Bellevue Hospital. Your adventure will take place over the course of four days. There are certain things that have to be accomplished each day. You will not rest until they are accomplished. As you begin to investigate you notice that there is something different about this case. Something that might hint at a possible way out of the dreadful existence that mankind has fallen into. Is there an alien resistance? Is there a connection to the dead bodies that are turning up all over the place? It is up to you and your investigative skills to find out. As you follow leads, you will visit actual New York City landmarks and pick up clues. Finding how the clues relate to each other is the challenge.
Bottom line. Even though Manhunter: New York is not strong on either the plot or graphics fronts it is, nonetheless, fun to play. The game will certainly test your puzzle solving and detective skills. Long live the resistance.
People who downloaded Manhunter have also downloaded:
Manhunter 2: San Fransisco, Maniac Mansion Deluxe, Man Enough, Laura Bow, Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes 1 (a.k.a. Case of the Serrated Scalpel), Maupiti Island, Les Manley in Search for the King, Les Manley 2: Lost in L.A.
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