Review by JW ACE

"Disappointing to the long time fans"

Hitman: Contracts is the third game in the cult Hitman series. The first game was different, but had some issues. The second game however, was very well done, not to mention well received, by fans of the first game.

Perhaps it was that many fans of the first 2 games were expecting the story to expand further? Perhaps it was the fact the Developers, IO interactive, were getting better with each game? Or perhaps it was just the fact that Hitman 2 was so well done it left us expecting too much? Whatever the reason, Contracts doesn't live up to the expectations of the Hitman fan-base. On the other hand, that is not to say this isn't a good game on its own.

The graphics a very solid in this game. The pools of blood, the clothes the people wear, all very well done. Unlike the first game of the series, you can tell the difference between the different characters easily, mostly due to the clothes they wear, which is all you are interested in. There are a few visual flaws here and there. For example, after I closed the door behind me, a guard chasing me tried to run through the door, and I could easily see he arms coming through.

The sounds and music of the game, while not as good as Hitman 2, are also very solid. The music adds nicely to the atmosphere, the environmental sounds, like rain, are good. The gunshots and "kill" sounds are pretty realistic as well.

The controls of this game were perfected in the previous installment of the series, and IO didn't change the well done formula. Why should they? You have the option of 3rd or 1st person, both handle very well with the WSAD configuration. The E button becomes important as that is the key you use to interact with the environment. The only weird thing, is that to use your inventory, you have to right-click the mouse. That was confusing as first, but once figured out, no problem.

Game Play
The game play of this game can only be described as your basic Hitman game play. You can sneak, look through keyholes, change clothes, and drag dead bodies. If bi-standers see you with a gun, or standing over a corpse, they will run away yelling for help.

However, there is a huge problem with the level design. Yes, about half of the levels in this game a repeats from the first game. While this has its benefits to new comers who avoided the first game cause of its flaws, namely the lack of a save feature, its good to replay these classic levels. On the other hand, for long time Hitman fans, sure the Lee Hong assassination level is now much easier, not to mention prettier, but why do I have to play through it again? It was challenging enough the first time.

This is what really drops this game to low score. After Hitman 2 which was very story rich, this game just doesn't live deliver a good story. The reason why so many levels are repeats from the first game, is because the game is basically your character, Agent 47, having flashbacks of his previous missions. Some of them are obviously previous hits that he did before the first game. Others are all repeats, except for 2. The first and last levels. The first level fills a few gaps in the series back story, and the last level the one level that isn't a flashback.

Since I am a big fan of Hitman, I wasn't really disappointed with the story. It is obvious that they are setting up the the 4th installment, which has been announced. The let-down here is that this is more of a mini game, or an expansion pack. It took me close to a month to beat both of the previous Hitman games, and this one took me no more than a week. Too short and too easy, that is what drops the game.

Overall, if you are new to the series, this is a good game to pick up. You will get to play the insanely hard levels from the first game they way they should have been played, and with better graphics. If you played Hitman 2, you will be disappointed, but not as much as a long time fan since the start of the series. This game is more of a recap of what has happened previous, and sets the stage for the next game in the series.

I personally, hope that IO makes #4 just like #2, because 2 was clearly the best of the series. And I am looking forward to further the story of Agent 47. In the meantime, this game should wet your appetite, but I would suggest waiting for it to be $19.99 or less.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 01/26/05

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