Review by Alterwolf

"My bloodlust knows no bounds."

Nothing like a horrifically detailed bloodbath to make me feel ALIVE again.

Hitman takes the FPS/Behind the back shooter and takes it to a completely different level. Quite frankly, I haven't seen a game quite like this one as far as the detail and skill required goes. Or maybe I just dig the way the bodies dance when I empty clips into them, whatever.

I'd rather not give away the plot, so here it is in a nutshell:

You = Hitman.
Bad people do bad things.
You kill bad people for secret agency.
Happy.

Well, it's obviously more complicated than that. The idea is to be PROFESSIONAL about your killing. While you break into a lot of firefights, it's generally something that HAS to happen to advance plot. Killing cops, civilians, or anyone else who's defenseless or totally unrelated to the hit will cost you dearly. You get a certain amount of money for the hit, and you get docked quite a bit for each 'bad' kill (cops, pedestrians, kids, whatever), and if you go in the hole...well, game over.

Now, the GUARDS on the other hand, are fair game, as are your targets.

The game is handled in a slightly Tomb Raider-esque 'behind the back' position, but the camera stays tightly behind you. Asides from being a walking death machine, you also have to be a bit clever to get the job done. You have to take the clothes off the dead guards or people you kill incognito to get close to your marks or objectives, you have to drag and ditch bodies, and you have to get the hell out of the area in a hurry after the job's over. Easier said than done.

You use the cash the agency pays you to buy weapons and ammo, which must be planned out CAREFULLY. You can only conceal so many weapons (and some can't be concealed at all), and the more money you save completing easy missions, the more money you have to stock up for the long, tough ones. Do you want the relatively silent knife, or the more expensive, harder to use, DEAD silent Piano Wire? The Desert Eagle or the UZI? Some of these decisions can actually make missions much easier to handle (like choosing the same weapon all the guards carry allows you to have it out after you steal a guard's clothes, whereas you'll be noticed if you're carrying something weird and different).

Gameplay is pretty smooth after you get your bearings and controls set up (WASD for me please), and generally, the game handles well enough to where you don't notice (like a good game should). Not much to say there really.

The Graphics are fantastic. The landscapes and textures are EXTREMELY detailed and lush, and the physics engine is INSANELY cool. No more preset animations for shots. People ragdoll across the room when you open up with the shotgun, people slump over dead in their desks, or slide off their chairs, it's like watching a John Woo movie. I purposely cheat the Restaurant Hit just so I can do the Godfather style ''Walk in and kill everything that moves'' hit with the Akimbo Pistols or dual Sawed offs. Awww yeah.

...too bad the engine is slightly clunky. Some of the areas have some rather high poly counts and between that and the slightly buggy engine, this game could bring a decent system to it's knees in spots. I have a hard time judging with my Uber-rig, but I say I get drops down to 40-45 FPS in really bad areas, and I have a 64MB GTS GeForce2!

The sound is just as great as the graphics, save the rather boring and dry voice acting. Guns sound cool, ambient sounds are neat, and the Music is pretty good as well (I really dig the feeling the first level's music gave me when I was walking around with my Sniper Rifle in a suitcase). Not much to say.

Assuming you've got the system (and hopefully not a 3dfx card, which this game doesn't like for some reason) to run it, and a love for carnage and thinking, you'll dig this game. I love it so far.

And oh, be warned, this game is QUITE hard. Be sure to check out the FAQs here to get your bearings, and to save you the pain of multiple restarts.

Enough Talk, go kill, NOW.
===

Graphics: 9
+ Absolutely sweet visuals with a jawdroppingly cool physics engine for high powered kills. Sweeeet.

- Don't people know how to program tightly coded engines anymore? Yeesh.

Sound/FX: 8
+ Pretty good tunes, Nice sounds, and cruddy voice acting. Enh.

- None of the soundtracks really lept out at me the second time I played.

Gameplay: 8
+ Fun, strategic kill-fests with lots of visual rewards. HOO-RAY!

- This game will make you SCREAM in frustration in spots, and you'll need nerves of steel to get through some spots without a scratch.

Replay Value: 8
+ I play the same 3 levels over and over just for the giddy feeling it gives me to watch bodies fly all over the place.

- After you figure out a definite way to finish a mission, you'll probably never feel like using another.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/06/01, Updated 02/06/01


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