Review by GTA Gavin
"A step in the right direction for the Hitman Series."
After the amazing experience that was had in Hitman 2: Silent Assassin and the rehash that was Hitman: Contracts, fans were left unsure of what direction our favorite bald killing machine was taking. With Hitman: Blood Money, that question has been answered. That answer is simply, we're headed in the right direction. So many things have been improved upon in this installment but the improvements never take away from what we know and love in the Hitman series.
The first thing you will notice when you pop this in is that the graphics have been severely overhauled. While this is still on the PS2, it looks good. Not as great as the Xbox 360 of course, but it still gets the job done. The only thing that is a complaint though is that there are a lot of jagged edges on characters and things like that. While the Mardi Gras level is still in tact (pushing the PS2 to the limit by having hundreds of NPCs on screen), some people with older PS2s may notice some slowdown. Also, the ability to see bullet wounds was removed from the PS2 version of the game. Although not really a complaint, it still would have been nice to see if only for the ewww factor. The levels though do look great with many different little touches throughout the game. One my favorite levels in the game was the Suburbs level and I felt the graphics were best shown off in the sunny atmosphere of that level. Again this portion of the review could not be closed without giving kudos for keeping the Mardi Gras level intact for us PS2 owners. Thank you.
The sound design on this one was great as well. The score provided by Jesper Kyd hit's the nail on the head again. This time though, the score is a little more fun and not as overly moody as the one that was included in Contracts. Everything in the game sounds like it should. Whether it be the new silencer you put on your gun or the sound of a coin gently dinging on the concrete to distract an enemy. Some of the melee weapons sound absolutely sick though with my favorite being the sick thud of a hammer entering someone's head. The voice acting is on-par with the other games in the series with Agent 47 once again being voice by the talented David Bateson.
The story this time out is above and beyond what Contracts had to offer. In Contracts we had to deal with incoherent flashbacks with no real sense of flow. This one however, has a very nice pace and is set in the present with a politician and a reporter recalling the events and hits that Agent 47 has completed over the past year. You then get to play the hit that they are recalling. Even though the story about legalizing cloning and corrupt politicians won't be winning any Oscars, it is still a lot better than the one presented in Contracts. You are also given a nice briefing before each level that gives you motivation to complete the hit. Whether it be the corrupt amusement park owner who refused to take responsibility for a ride that killed 37 people or a band of Crows who want to take out a Congressman, it all fits nicely together.
The biggest changes this time out are made in the gameplay department. With the new notoriety system you have a sense of continuity in the story. This means you can no longer run and gun through a level without consequence. Instead, you are given a Notoriety Score at the end of each level. You are judged upon how many people you killed, the amount of violence you dished out, how much noise you made during the level and how many times your cover was blown. The point of Hitman has always been to take out the target and only the target as stealthily as possible, not to mow everyone down. One of the other new features is the fact that you get money at the end of each level to spend towards upgrades and bribes. Bribing helps take down your notoriety and upgrading your weapons is one of the keys to success in this game. You are going to want to do well in missions in order to get the maximum payoff so you can get that snazzy new silencer or scope for your Silverballer.
The other new feature in the game, that coincides with the notoriety system, is the ability to make your hits seem like accidents. Whether it be crushing someone with a piano in New Orleans or pushing someone off a balcony, you don't want to get tagged with the murder. People also become less suspicious if they believe it to be an accident. At the end of each level you are given a fun newspaper to read about the hit. They include some pretty cool details about the previous mission and the other stories that were added to flesh out they paper are often times hilarious. The only thing that bugs me about the paper system though is the fact that it never says Accident happens to so and so. It always says So and so killed. Blood Money suspected. What is the point of creating accidents if you aren't rewarded more if you do that? Just one of the minor nitpicks I have with the game.
One of the cool things that have always been included with the Hitman games is the high level of replay value that each level has. Each hit has multiple ways of completion and you'll more than likely want to see all the ways of taking out each target. You may also just want to go back for fun after completing the main game and run and gun through the level, showing everyone just how awesome your fully upgraded M4 is.
While not a Game of the Year contender or anything like that, Hitman: Blood Money is still a solid game with a lot of fun to be had within. It's just a shame the series doesn't get more recognition.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/13/06
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