Review by AlCurtis

""I need to go to the bathroom!""

Let me start by saying I'm a biased fan of the hitman games. I first played silent assassin back on my ps2 years ago and had never played anything like it before the perfect cross is tense stealth gameplay, mixed with the clever and imaginative settings and the multitude of ways to go about your missions made it an enthralling game to play. This was followed by the disappointing Hitman Contracts but IO interactive is back in top form with hitman blood money. Not only is it by far the best game in the series it's also one of my all time favourite games and definitely my favourite third person action game.

Blood Moneys graphics are nothing short of jaw dropping. The graphics are amazingly sharp and detailed. The HDR lighting effects are amazing. Sunlight has this soft warm glow and bounces harshly off anything light coloured. Water undulates and wavers realistically. Animations are spot on and naturel. For instance, when using the fiberwire: Mr 47s signature strangulation weapon, 47 will hook the line over the victims neck and wrestle him to the floor or turn around and use his back as a brace to choke them. Slash somebody with a knife and blood splatters over nearby walls and objects just as you'd expect Same with guns. Fill somebody full of magnum rounds and the wall behind will be covered in blood. Melee weapons have sickening stealth animations. Whenever tis stabbing somebody in the ear with a screwdriver to slicing somebody's skull open with a meat clever the attacks are believable and naturel. There are just so many cool things like when you upgrade your Silverballer and turn it from a fairly normal looking pistol to a apocalyptic nightmare with a scope, a red dot laser sight an extra clip and other deadly extras. The environments are magnificent with such diverse and amazing locations such as a rehabilitation centre for alcoholics compete with cherry blossom trees, awesome lighting, a creepy medical wing and all the things you'd expect. A posh suburban home with intricate details such as posters and toys, minutely detailed bathrooms and an indoor pool area. You'll even visit the white house itself.

Sound wise the game is just as awesome as the previous hitman games have been. The guns as always sound spot on. All sound crisp, clear and powerful. Firing a silenced weapon is also extremely cool. When you fire you max silenced Silverballer for the first time and hear the almost inaudible pow noise as its magnum rounds down somebody in one shot I guarantee you'll be smiling evilly. There is a lot of speech in the game. People often talk to each other in funny or interesting conversations and theres nice appropriate ambient effects. Yells of alarm and pain are done very well and there are some very nice visceral effects such as bullets thudding into flesh and knives hacking away. Voice acting is perfect with 47 being voiced by David Bateson who is spot on in his portrayal of a cold, business like killer.

The music is again composed by the truly masterful Jesper Kyd and is his trademark mix of soaring orchestral tunes with a dash of cool techno beats and thumping bass. It's fantastic to listen to and suits the feel of the game perfectly.

Hitman has some of the most interesting and downright fun gameplay you'll ever see. The main strength of Blood money is the massive, massive amount of ways you can go about your missions. For instance on the third level there a opera singer facing a WW2 era execution scene and his devoted friend from you have to take out. Instead of just rushing in there and shooting everyone you have to think like a hitman. It just so happens that your agency smuggled in a coat with a real world war pistol in the pocket. By killing or sedating a worker you can sneak backstage follow the actor playing the executioner back to his dressing room, switch the guns and then watch as your job is done for you. You could also kill the actor, take his clothes and shoot the target yourself using the rea WW2 pistol to make it look like an accident. You could also snipe him form the light rack or simply follow him back to his dressing room and put a bullet in his brains. As for his friend, when the actor dies on stage, he will rush the stage. If you stick a bomb on the chandelier above him you can silence him quickly and easily with little fuss. There are of course other ways and that's just one level: every level in blood money has this freedom Blow up a target by messing with his stove, poison their food or just shoot them in the head, its all up to you and this freedom gives blood money an insane amount of replay value.

Another reason to think smart is the new notoriety system. If you kill in the open, leave witnesses or evidence or are caught on camera you'll become known and gain notoriety. As notoriety rises guards will give you much less leeway with suspicious behaviour and have an easier time recognizing who you are. Civilians will also comment they have seen you somewhere before. After a mission you can pay to have notoriety removed by bribing several levels of people or purchasing a new identity. It's a good feature that adds extra encouragement to play the game like a hitman would: killing quietly, hiding bodies, silencing witnesses to your crimes and generally tidying up your loose ends.

Another new feature is the upgrade system for weapons and items. Using money from your hits and ranking bonuses you can purchase a wide variety of upgrades to a core selection of weapons you always have. For your W2000 sniper rifle you can get better scopes, more advanced silencers, convert it to bolt action invest in a foil padded suitcase to fool metal detectors and so on. For the shotgun you can get solid slug rounds, a laser sight (on a shotgun haha!) or even a silencer. These upgrades make your weapons truly deadly and your own. The sheer pleasure of using your customized weapons is just indescribable and adds loads to the game.

Hitman has a long, long shelf life. The multitude of ways to approach each mission and the extremely fun weapons will keep you coming back as will the ability to upload your scores to a rankings server the game has a fair few difficulty levels and the professional level will test you to the max.

Hitman: Blood Money is a game of the absolute highest calibre and I cant recommend it enough for any fans of shooters or stealth gameplay.

Fin


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/02/08

Game Release: Hitman: Blood Money (EU, 05/26/06)


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