The execution effects are cool from the story perspective, but they linger for a few seconds after the execution is over and you are deposited back into the level proper, which is a big frustration in a stealth game where you need to stick to the shadows. That moment can mean the difference between life and death. Manhunt 2 is often very unforgiving of your mistakes, and a couple of hunters with nightsticks are tough to handle. Forcing you to wait for the filter to clear so that you can see where you're going is an unnecessary annoyance in a game that requires so much precision of movement.
As you would expect from a stealth action game, you can hug walls and peek around corners. There are some other mechanics at play as well, such as your need to be perfectly still should a hunter get too close while you're lurking in the shadows. At these times, he might be inches from your face, and you need to ensure you stay completely hidden by pressing the button that flashes on the screen. However, there are some nagging problems with the stealth gameplay, and enemy artificial intelligence sits high on the list. Enemies get stuck jittering between objects, which forces you to unstick them by grabbing their attention. They'll occasionally run past without noticing you, or patrol a three-foot-square area over and over again for no apparent reason.
Danny can hold his own somewhat in standard melee combat, as long as he is armed with the right weapon. You'll use clubs, knives, shards of glass, and plenty of other instruments. Melee fisticuffs are deliberate affairs, and you should expect to handle only one enemy at a time with ease--if that. If you attract the attention of more than one, it's better to run back into the shadows. Mistakes will cost you: Some weapons will knock you down, and it takes forever to get back up, which almost always spells certain death.
There's also a small assortment of firearms in Manhunt 2. Shooting enemies isn't as gratifying as beating them to a pulp with a table saw, but headshots still produce a smattering of blood. In most of these circumstances, you'll be hugging a wall or crouched behind an object, popping out to take potshots. Danny is not a weapons expert, so perhaps accordingly, the controls handle loosely. Nevertheless, shooting doesn't feel as precise as you would like. It's also not as challenging as the proper stealth elements mostly because your foes have the aiming skills of a third grader with a water pistol, and may even unload clip after clip into nearby walls.
Yet there's no doubt that fans of sneaking will get a lot out of Manhunt 2. Aside from the occasionally flaccid gunplay, the game is highly challenging, especially so on the appropriately titled insane difficulty level. Some of the level designs are tricky, such as one in which a helicopter's spotlight keeps you constantly on the move. This isn't for everyone; if you're prone to fits of frustration or expect to be able to easily recover from mistakes, Manhunt 2 won't do you any favors. But if you're into that sort of thing, you'll enjoy the 15 hours or so of gameplay it provides, and may even want to try unlocking the alternate ending.
Manhunt 2 is a good fit on the PSP. Part of this has to do with the clarity of the screen, which makes execution moves look crisper than they do on consoles. Even more importantly, it doesn't feel as if anything was compromised for the less-powerful platform. Few games look this good on a handheld, and even fewer combine such technical prowess with enjoyable mechanics. If you like a good, sneaky adventure, you'll find a lot to chew on here.