Review by PickHut

"Prelude to Awesomeness"

So, you wake up, lying on a bed you were previously strapped to, in a mental hospital no less, have no idea who you are, get up, and put on a suit. You then proceed to go through a mini obstacle course, learn close combat, shoot off a couple of rounds from various guns, kill a male nurse, take his clothes, and sneak out of the place in a matter of minutes. What do you do next? You join an agency and become an assassin. Duh. Ok, so that's not exactly a normal, everyday occurrence, but that's the kind of situation 47 has been thrown into in Hitman: Codename 47.

Since he doesn't know what else to do, he goes through with these missions without a second thought. And since this agency seems so confident in 47's abilities, they place him in all sorts of dastardly tasks throughout the game. They start him off with simple assignments like sniping a guy and rigging a limo with a bomb in an attempt to start a gang war in Hong Kong. However, by the time he takes on his fifth mission, the agency slings his ass into the jungles of Colombia, avoiding jaguars and trying to kill a crazed, Scarface-wannabe drug lord that's high on cocaine..... who has a big ass gun..... and an ugly scar on his face..... and actually says "say hello to my little friend!".

Of course, you'll get a chance to use different kinds of weapons when you take control of 47, whether it be a simple, yet deadly fibrewire to choke people to death from behind, an AK-47 to mow down multiple guards, or a sniper rifle to cap someone's head from a safe distance to use on your assignments. You can either obtain them within the missions or buy them with your money in the sloppily-made pre-mission menu (seriously, I didn't know you can buy weapons until the third mission). Since this game has a strong emphasis on stealth, you can't just go in guns-a-blazing, because you'll get gunned down in a matter of seconds due to the lack of health and the guard's ability to overwhelm you.

In some instances, getting your cover blown is as simple as equipping a weapon, so you'll have to be cool and calm before finding the right opportunity to strike someone. However, in most tasks, it takes more than just not raising a gun to get by most of the time. There are many moments where you'll have to kill a person, drag his body to a hidden spot, and take his clothes (can't take women's outfits...... would've been hilarious, though) to access certain locations that you previously couldn't get to due to your "normal bald dude with a bar code on the back of his head" status. While the game doesn't give a damn how many "enemies" you kill, taking out too many civilians (whether to get their clothes or because you feel like slaughtering everyone) will result in a mission failure.

As cool as it sounds to take control of a Grim Reaper-esque character, there are a couple of downfalls that prevent H:C47 from becoming a truly enjoyable title, all of which contribute to the game being annoyingly difficult at times. The first problem you'll notice is how useless the map can be at times; I mean, it's great when you want to know where you are, but it's missing important aspects, like......... YOUR MAIN OBJECTIVES. At the start of the third mission, this proved to be quite a hassle: your first task is to get to the Red Dragon negotiator, kill him, and pose as him before he enters the restaurant for a meeting. Since the developers didn't feel the need to put his location on the map (or at least where he's entering from), you end up running all over the area trying to figure out where the hell he's at. It should take about only two tries to spot him, but it's still pretty stupid not to show on the map.

H:C47 also has the "you keep dying until you get it juuuust right" mentality of difficulty (or what some people like to call "steep learning curve"), which means there'll be plenty of instances where you'll be forced to play through a mission numerous times before you finally succeed. Splinter Cell is pretty similar in this aspect, but at least you had save points in that game. Granted, you usually get two "lives", but it's not the same, because most of the time your cover has been blown after dying, and it's almost impossible to get a disguise when both civilians and guards are now aware of your presence. This is especially annoying in the complex fourth mission where you'll have to go through a laundry list of objectives before getting anywhere near your hit. Keeping a low profile in this mission is a MUST, because if your cover is blown once, the whole place will be on lockdown with the guards on high alert. There are a couple of well-rounded levels thrown into the game to go with these tough ones, however, which makes for an overall unstable experience.

47 may be one awesome, bald assassin, but Hitman: Codename 47 certainly isn't an awesome game. Which is a shame, really, because it could have been awesome if it weren't for the problems. Thankfully, it had the opportunity to spawn sequels where its flaws were fixed (not only adding the main objectives, but every single person onto the map and saving anywhere in a mission), thus making them awesome sequels. So, just skip this title and go straight for its successors if you want anything resembling fun. I mean, come on, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin has ninjas. NINJAS.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 11/01/05, Updated 11/04/05

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