Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Manhunter 2: San Francisco logo

THEY came for outer space, from a twin planet system in a distant galaxy that was fast becoming a single planet system. Nasty, cream-white, with the consistency of Cadbury Chocolate Eggs, the Orbs came in their hordes, looking for a new world.
And like any intelligent alien force, they headed straight for the easern seaboard of the USA.
New York fell quickly. The humans that survived the holocaust were forced to wear long, brown, hooded robes. The penalty for talking was death.

The Orbs, being armless, built robots to carry out their dastardly deeds and selected a number of humans, including you, to police the population. These are the Manhunters and they hold the highest position a human can hold under the Orb Alliance.

But the Orbs hadn't reckoned on you. Using your high position to move around freely, it took you just three days to destroy the Orb HQ and free the city. It would have been a perfect ending had not a dangerous killer and Orb ally escaped and fled.
That was yesterday. Today you are chasing that killer, Phil Cook, in an alien ship that you can barely fly. Below you is San Francisco and it's obvious that the Orbs have landed here too.

Being unfamiliar with the ship's controls you crash land and stagger slightly stunned from the wreck. After a few moment to regain your senses, you see you have landed on top of another Manhunter. Closer investigation reveals his ID card and Manhunter Assignment Device (MAD). With these bare bones you can begin to track down felonous Phil and devise a plan to defeat the Orbs.

All humans, including Manhunters, have had tracking disks surgically inserted into the back of their necks. Using the MAD you can link to the Alliance computer and watch recordings of any criminal activity in the city that day. Limited information of all humans currently residing in the city is also available.

Under the guise of the flattened Manhunter you are authorised to travel to all locations visited by criminals and all addresses furnished by the database. By tracking each blip and typing each new name you discover into the MAD computer, you will gain access to all the locations you need to visit in order to complete each day of the adventure.

Clues are everywhere. It's important to track each criminal until he ceases movement, otherwise an important location may be closed to you. Luckily the day's tracking recording can be replayed as many times as you like, so if you seem to be up against a brick wall, use the MAD to make sure you've seen all there is to be seen.

You can't die in MH2. Well, you can, but you get re-incarnated, so making a fatal mistake is not the end of the game. Indeed, there are several occasions in the course of the three days when making a fatal mistake is essential to completing the day's assignment.

Those assignments are real tricky. The first day involves following in the footsteps of the tracked criminals, collecting objects and clues that will be useful over the next two days.

Every day there are a number of arcade sequences to be completed. Each ca be set to Easy, Normal or Difficult, but each needs to be completed, sometimes twice, before you can continue on your quest. Only the final one is particularly difficult, so hardened adventurers shouldn't let these arcade sequences put them off buying the game.

Day 2 and Day 3 dawn with the Orbs, who think you are the Manhunter you flattened on arrival in San Francisco, giving you assignments. These commands you must obey, although your real purpose is to continue to collect objects and clues to help you discover the whereabouts of Phil Cook, never forgetting that your ultimate aim is to destroy the Orbs.

The path to success is intricate and devious. Miss one clue and you'll never complete the game. MH2 isn't going to disappoint Sierra On-Line fans, even if the graphics and sound aren't up to Space Quest III standards. And if you bought and ejoyed MH1, then Manhunter 2 - San Francisco is a definite must.

Manhunter 2: San Francisco logo


It was one of those days. One minute you're minding your own business and the next your home town is invaded by aliens. Everyone is forced into wearing rather fetching brown robes and you're offered the chance to be a Manhunter: an 'esteemed human'. As such, your aim in life simple: find the villains, then kill them. What more could one ask?

Manhunter 2 - San Francisco begins where Manhunter - New York left off. You're on the hunt for a human murderer called Phil who has escaped into the heart of San Francisco. So your task is set. Unfortunately this task isn't as simple as it first seems. The more you investigate the more you uncover, from Genetic Engineering to major corruption, and your initial plans are changed as a more comprehensive understanding of the situation develops.

An interesting feature of the game is the inclusion of 'exciting arcade sequences'. Unfortunately, this adventurous gambit hasn't really come off. You are offered three skill levels which are tantamount to the same with little if any difference.

One such sequence near the beginning of the game is just about impossible. The aim is to get through the tunnel by kicking rats and punching bats - which would be quite a pleasant break from wandering the streets, but the slow keyboard responses and the random nature of any attack lowers the chance of survival to around zero.

Of course you'll persist, against your better judgement, just to get into the game somehow. Toughness based on luck rather than skill really does rile you, especially when you wish to get into the game proper rather than pussy-foot around in some amateurish arcade sequence.


Graphically, Manhunter 2 is adequate, although the images are often rather crude and basic; the staggered and gaudy coloured graphics are reminiscent of early Commodore 64 software than a game for the Amiga in the Nineties. The animation is tediously slow and jerky, so they become something to endure rather than enjoy.

Sound effects and music are best left unmentioned, which should give an idea of their quality. You can always turn it off. All of which is disappointing from a software house that was getting much better at effects.


Manhunter 2 can be quite thrilling, especially thanks to its macabre style and relatively witty presentation. Unfortunately the puzzles are either blatant or painfully awkward, a constantly recurring problem being that you find objects without getting full details on what they are. This may be fine every now and again, but when it crops up with almost all objects throughout the game it does become a pain.

An adventure which decides the route for you and shows you the scenes it wants you to play hardly inspires any particular interest. However, once you get the feel of the thing the atmosphere rises, and you can begin to enjoy yourself. The game then presents its main problem: the sheer stop and start quality, with hardly any smooth flow.


All-in-all Manhunter 2 is a let-down. Especially after the success of Manhunter in the States, you'd expect something better. The adventure has so much potential, and it does have quite a gripping storyline - but the slow gameplay holds it back.

Big problem is the arcade games. Frankly, these are no joke. I'm sorry, but I haven't played such poor arcade games since BASIC Invaders! Why they bothered with the arcade parts of the game, when all they do is distract and irritate, is beyond me. Experimenting too much into mixing various forms of games, Sierra have got themselves swamped - let's hope they can pull themselves out and produce more of the games for which they are rightly famous.

Manhunter 2: San Francisco logo

Alte Branchenweisheit: Wo ein Sierra-Adventure ist, ist eine Fortsetzung nicht weit. Da macht auch die brutale SF-Saga um die außerirdischen Orbs keine Ausnahme. Begeben wir uns also in die Straßen von San Francisco - zur Menschenjagd!

Die auffälligste Neuerung gegenüber dem ersten Teil ist, daß das Game jetzt auf drei Disketten daherkommt. Ansonsten hat sich nicht allzuviel getan. Geblieben sind vor allem die außerirdischen Menschheitsknechter, die Orbs. Und geblieben sind natürlich auch die Manhunter, die Killerkommandos der Orbs.

Wie gehabt schlüpft man in die Rolle eines solchen Vollstreckers im braunen Mönchgewand.

Mit deinem Raumschiff hast du einen Verdächtigen von New York nach Frisco verfolgt und bist an einem der zahlreichen dort herumstehenden Wolkenkratzer hängengeblieben. Bei der anschließenden Bruchlandung hast du auch noch einen Kollegen von dir zermantscht!

Während du also so aus dem Raumschiff torkelst (hicks, zuviel Alkohol?), stolperst du über dessen ID-Card und sein MAD (tragbares Daten- und Sichtgerät). Was liegt näher, als die Dinger einzusacken und gleich ein paar Nachforschungen damit anzustellen?

Schließlich ist dank deiner mangelnden Flugkünste gerade wieder eine interessante Mission frei geworden... Mit Hilfe dieses MAD's lassen sich Personendaten abfragen und die Aktivitäten anderer Beteiligter verfolgen. Jetzt brauchst du "nur" noch ein wenig kriminalistischen Spürsinn, um die dreitägige Horrorshow lebend zu überstehen und dem Geheimnis des Spiels auf die Spur zu kommen.

Manhunter 2 ist wieder ein Grafikadventure ohne Parser, die wenigen möglichen Aktionen (Untersuchen, Nehmen, Anwenden) werden automatisch aufgerufen, sobald sich der Suchpfeil in der Nähe einer kritischen Stelle befindet. Gesteuert wird der Pixel-Held per Maus oder Tastatur. Man sollte unbedingt jeden Screen gründlich absuchen, es könnte ja irgendwo etwas Wichtiges verborgen sein. Der dem Mauszeiger nachlaufende Suchpfeil kann die Geduld des Spielers dabei allerdings auf eine harte Probe stellen.

Bekanntlich entfachen Sierra-Games meist nicht gerade ein Feuerwerk an Grafik auf dem Screen - Manhunter machte da bestimmt keine Ausnahme, eher das Gegenteil ist der Fall. Die Grafik ist zwar bunt, aber äußerst bescheiden in der Ausführung; die gelegentlichen Animationen sind ziemlich ruckelig. Auch vom Sound darf man nicht mehr erwarten, als ein PC-Lautsprecher so zu Wege bringt.

Zwischendurch sind immer wieder kleine Actionssequenzen eingestreut, für die man den Schwierigkeitsgrad in drei Stufen einstellen kann - warum, bleibt ein weiteres Geheimnis der Orbs...

Aber schließlich sind es ja die Story und die kniffligen Rätsel, die den Reiz eines Adventures ausmachen. Hier ist (wie schon beim Vorgänger) rabenschwarzer Humor angesagt, der hart an die Grenzen des guten Geschmacks geht. Es gibt manch harte Kopfnuß zu knacken und viele blutige Leichen zu finden. Anders gesagt: Manhunter 2 ist beileibe kein übles Spiel, aber so richtig begeistern werden sich dafür wohl nur schreibfaule Abenteuer mit dem Gemüt eines Metzgerhunds. (wh)

Manhunter 2: San Francisco logo CU Amiga Screen Star

PRICE: £29.99

In the year 2004 we're going to be invaded by eyeball-like aliens called Orbs, who pollute the environment, experiment on humans and hire manhunters. The Manhunters are human employees of the Orbs who have the job of tracking down, capturing and handing over people conducting anti-Orb activities.

At the end of Manhunter: New York, our hero and renegade Manhunter jetted off to the sunshine beaches of the West Coast in hot pursuit of Phil, alien collaborator and maniac murderer. In the sequel, you play the same character determined to track Phil down and find out how strong the Orb empire has become. Crash landing in San Francisco, you manager to get clear of your craft and assume the identity of a fellow Manhunter who you accidentally killed. Then the fun really starts.

All this is depicted in a nice animated sequence which is a great taster of things to come. The game action is broken up in four ways. First, there are close up views of your immediate area which allow you to interact with the objects and characters around you. Next is the transport screen, which is basically a map of 'Cisco showing all the locations you can visit. Third are the arcade sequences which include shoot 'em ups, and a maze-like game similar to that found in the hospital section of It Came From The Desert.

Finally there are animated sequences which help break up the action and add to the atmosphere of the game.

There are no text commands; everything is entered via the mouse and the return key, so you don't have to worry about ambiguous transatlantic gibberish.

If you have a copy of Manhunter: New York you should be able to dive straight into this sequel. The plot is in a similar vein, though we are promised a few surprising twists along the way. Your main source of help comes from your Manhunter Assignment Device computer, a portable terminal which allows you to keep tabs on the people you want to meet, and the guys the Orbs want you to capture or terminate.

The puzzles re not too taxing, the only problems arise from failing to search a location properly. The various clues you find link together to shed some light on Phil and exactly what the Orbs are doing on Earth.

The graphics are technically poor and clumsy, but some of the animated sequences are superb. One of the best takes place when the Manhunter's space ship is hit, ricochets off a building and crash lands. Staggering out of the ship with stars spinning around his head, the Manhunter looks down and sees a pair of legs sticking out from under the craft and realizes he has crushed someone to death. Pretty gruesome, but very effective. The accompanying soundtrack, however, is totally inadequate and spoils the effect.

Overall, Manhunter: San Francisco is an exciting sequel. Don't expect a Leisure Suit Larry clone, it's nothing like it, rather Manhunter has a style all its own.

Manhunter 2: San Francisco logo

Sierra On-Line, Amiga (1Mb only) £29.99

The Orbs have landed and there's 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 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 as 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 short 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.

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 tracker may themselves be tracked to help you discover more about the city and the Orb's intentions. Track everybody you can or your 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 an 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 atmosphere created by the more adventure-orientated sequences of the game and, for me, serve no purpose 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 neighborhood 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.