Review by Drunky

"Definitely hits its mark"

The Hitman series of games have a simple enough goal, put you in the shoes of a contract killer. Your name is Agent 47 and your enemies are whoever pissed off the wrong people. Unlike previous Hitman games, Blood Money actually develops the character of Agent 47 through an interview between an ex-government agent and a reporter. The presentation of the story is rather entertaining in itself, you will follow the interview in a present day setting, while the government agent briefs the reporter on the Agent 47 clone. During this briefing the agent will talk about high profile assassinations that should have been nearly impossible for any regular hitman, which makes him believe the mythical clone is behind it. After the briefing, you will actually have to carry out the mission described. The contracts will then lead up to the supposed downfall of our protagonist. (Don't worry, not a spoiler)

Each of the contracts you carry out will have their own associated storyline, with their own unique characters, background information and motivations. Now since you're a Hitman you will not always be the selfless hero seeking justice, you'll just be a murderer taking out other murderers and criminals. Sometimes for the greater good, and sometimes just for the cash. The storylines vary greatly, from taking out mafia thugs to protecting politicians.

As for the gameplay, please do not let the demo fool you. The game is nothing like it. You will not be told what to do at every little point in the game, that was just a tutorial. The real game will show you the development of the government agent and the reporter, then a brief scene showing how Agent 47 is doing and then a briefing telling you all you need to know about the location and targets, followed by dropping into a free roam area. Here you will be left all alone out in the open with no support other than intel that you can purchase. Knowing your targets and your objectives, it is up to you how to carry the mission out. With absolute freedom its amazing the number of ways there are to play the levels, from the silent and stealthy to the run and gun method. Each has their own effects and consequences.

As you'd expect you're given an arsenal of weapons to complete your goals, ranging from loud shotguns and machine guns to the quieter Silverballers with silencers, to the stealthy razor wire and butcher knives. You'll start with a standard set of equipment in each mission, razor wire, sedatives, coins to throw to distract guards etc., but you'll also be able to pick up weapons and take them with you to the next missions. If you're a true follower of the Hitman way, you don't even need weapons. You can just push someone off of a balcony or drop a chandelier on their head.

In most of the difficulty levels you'll also have a notoriety system. This system is a great addition to the gameplay. Just like you can take weapons with you to the next mission, you can take certain issues with you too. Mainly recognition from police, guards and civilians. The perfect hitman leaves no witnesses or evidence and never gets caught on camera. What's great about this is that if you do break any of those rules, you'll become more vulnerable to be recognized and it will make your future missions even harder unless you pay certain people to take the pressure off of you.

The graphics in the game are not quite up to par with other next generation titles out there today. The environments you'll be working in are extremely well done. From the snowy mountain resort of a porn king to the bustling streets of Mardi Gras. The environments are always detailed and decorated even to the littlest details and large enough to offer some exploration. The movements of the character models are smooth and fluid most of the time, from throwing them over railings to the stealth strangling. However there are the times when the NPCs and extras are jerky.

The sound is amazing. The background music in the game and the introductory music is incredibly somber and always fits in with the downbeat Hitman theme. Its perfect for putting you in the killing mood. My only gripe with the background music is its tendency to pick up a faster pace, much like most movies when something exciting is about to happen, at odd times during the game. It makes you think you're about to be spotted or shot at and usually when that happens, you pull out a gun. Well if you weren't going to get shot at before, you will now. The sound effects are excellent, and even have purpose. The guns are nicely matched and sound authentic, you can hear the clanging of your feet as you run across catwalks and the gurgling of a guard as you strangle him in the shadows. As I said before, they don't just sound nice, they actually affect gameplay. The guards react to the sounds of gunshots in the next room and can even hear you sneak up behind them if you're not quiet enough.

The replay ability of the game is actually excellent. Unlike most games which only offer achievements as a reason to play through again and again, Hitman leaves the game open to various methods of completing missions, letting you experiment with different strategies and weapons. You can play again and again trying something new each time on four different difficulty levels, and each play through can unlock new achievements from just completing the game to getting even more upgrades to your weapons.

Gameplay: 10/10
Incredibly addicting, huge variety of methods and strategies with the weaponry and equipment to complement it. Great game mechanics and very open ended.
Graphics: 7/10
Great detailed environment, huge areas to explore. NPC's can be jerky and awkward at times.
Sound: 8/10
Excellent sound effects and music, except for when the faster paced music starts popping up at seemingly random times.
Replay: 8/10
Multiple ways to replay the missions, varying difficulty levels each with their own achievements. Great replay value.
Overall: 9/10

I'd definitely recommend that anyone buy this game, anyone who can buy it anyways. It does have a Mature rating and does have blood, violence, language and partial nudity. The game is excellent overall and has a great replay value and definitely a right step in the Hitman franchise. This is a must have for any gamer.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/14/06

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