Review by jimfish

"The start of a legacy..."

Agent 47...the most feared fellow to ever have a barcode stamped on the back of his head. When somebody needs killing, and the Ghostbusters aren't around, there's only one person left you need to call - The Agency; a shadowy organisation where death is its business, and it's always in demand.

Yes, it's an aptly named game; Hitman, since you won't be serving up chocolate frosty milkshakes, but morbid flavoured DOOM! Your job is to work through levels; sneaking, killing - slitting throats here and there, or blasting heads off from a far with a massive sniper's a murder sim, and it's down to you. The "true" way to play the game is to be silent, "ghost like" - killing only your target and vanishing like you were never there, but it is still open to you to grab an M60 and plow through levels with brute force. I'll leave some more of the gameplay for later, as those were just the basics needed to understand Hitman.

What do we know about our hero? Well, he's big, white and bald. That's the only background story we've got on him, leaving him to be a great enigma. He's not human. He's a clone. Born as a full grown man, ageless, but with the genes of a pure killer. After learning every tactic, every weapon, every skill, he's released as an Agent - one of The Agency's top assassins. From the start-to-finish of the game, you're contacted with "hits" to be completed, each hit bringing in money rewards, and the more money you earn, the more weapons and equipment you can purchase for later levels. All of these targets are unique and have their own environment. On series of levels sees you trekking through the jungles of Columbia, locating an militia army base to eliminate a drug dealer, whilst the next level sees you flying to a Budapest hotel, to eliminate a terrorist as he takes a shower. Jungle tactics are all well and good, but they won't do you no good when you're running around the lobby of a hotel - you have to evolve...think...change your tactics. Sure, you can kill everybody on a wild rampage, but as the game goes by, the levels get tougher, where you MUST think strategically, or else you'd be blown away by the many trigger-happy guards. It's a third person shooter, with stealth, action and puzzles thrown in.

With such weapons as a fibre-wire, pistols, sub-machine guns, assault rifles to freakin' MINI GUNS making up 47's armoury - there's a gun for everybody here. Now, these weapons come at a price, and before each mission you're required to shop for them. Not just the actual guns itself, mind you, but the ammo's there as well. Each bullet bumps up the price of your shopping bill, so it's all down to the player. If you're good enough, you'd take just a single clip, but for those who aren't confident, they'll buy a whole bundle of 'em, just in case their mission turns sour. And that's the snag, since killing everybody on a level isn't what a professional hitman would do, penalties come into play. Killing an innocent will 'cause your mission reward to be deducted, so once again, the thinking aspect is crucial not just to the level at hand, but the levels in the future, as what you carry out now will determine your budget for future missions. And sometimes, killing the target isn't the only option. The bodyguards protecting them won't just let you walk over to them, will they? Of course not! They'll tell you to clear off before they open fire. What's the solution? Kill one of the guards and change into their clothes. Bingo. You look like one of them, so you can move about in areas only where only they can go, without...y'know...being shot and killed. Just another little thing for you to think about and work around when playing, forever keeping you on your toes...

The sounds and music of the game isn't its strongest point, as the voice acting isn't stiffly delivered as though a small boy was locked in a room with the script and a microphone and told to read them. The voices do get grating after a while, but that's easily forgiven with thanks to the other end of the audio; sound effects and music. Each gun owns its own unique signature, and as The Man With No Name once said, "Every gun has its own tune...", it's no more true than here. Silenced pistols create a little "pfhp" noise as you fire off a round, or "RATTATATATATATATA" as you let rip with a machine gun on some poor soul. Even the "thwomp!" as their lifeless corpse hits the ground is exceedingly satisfying. Blood. BLOOD. BLOOD. Sorry. Random outburst of my murderous, angry side. *nervous twitch*

Now, what about all this scenery and whatnot? How do these unique environments look? Well, they're..."nice." Not spectacular, but nice. The draw distances aren't nice, the character models are a bit choppy, and sometimes the walls and floor may jump a bit, but they do the job well. After all, it was IO Interactive's first game, so you can't really complain, since after the success of this, they went on to go for 3 sequels, all with better graphics as the first, and each pushing the boundaries even further. Anyway, for Codename 47, you've got unique textures for the different locales - the green lush trees of the dense jungles, to the darkened passages of the French mental asylum where Agent 47 himself was given life. Perfect.

Now, what ties this package up into a neat little bundle is the plot. It's a little thin on the ground, but each mission is linked together, but too be fair, the main plot isn't why you'd buy this game, as it truly only comes into play during the opening and finale, and it some times distracts from the action. However, just the actual mission sub-plots are what is great, as they have their own background story, their own motives. It's fascinating stuff.

Throw this together and you've got a great game in the making. It's rough around the edges - sharp, even, but it's a building block for the next Hitman titles to come. So, if you've ever fancied murdering somebody, getting away with it and doing it again...

*calls cops*

Shame on you.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/19/06

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