Hitman Blood Money - PC Game Page: 1
Introduction

Like me, you've probably trawled the shelves of your local computer game store looking for the next thrill seeking game that will test your gaming abilities to the absolute limit. The type of game that after what seems like 30 minutes of gaming, has actually turned into a three hour stint leaving your eyes blurred and the dinner you've cooked cold!

There are few games out on the market at the moment that grip me enough to make me do an "all nighter" in front of the PC, yet when I saw the latest instalment in the Hitman saga, I knew I'd be needing a strong cup of coffee to see me through the night.

Make no mistake, I am a Hitman fan and have played every offering that Eidos have put onto the shelves, however with previous titles being so good, could this latest chapter improve on this? Well that’s what I'm here to find out!

Hitman Blood Money

Hitman Blood Money is the fourth chapter in the Hitman series and the sequel to the award winning Hitman Contracts. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, you assume the role of Agent 47, a genetic clone created to be the ultimate killing machine. Your goal, to eliminate each target assigned to you in any fashion deemed possible!

The ICA is a dieing company where its members are being eliminated one by one. Suspecting that this is the work of a larger organisation and that he might be next, Agent 47 heads to America where each mission now pays in straight-up cash or as the game is entitled, Blood Money!


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Gameplay

So what is this game like to play? In short, very good!

The way in which you can complete your “hits” is very diverse. With the previous games, the missions were fairly linier in the way the targets could be eliminated, however with the new improvements, there are now additional ways in which missions can be completed.

As we all know, accidents do happen, it’s just that in Agent 47’s case, they happen more often than not! I’ll not spoil the game for you, but as the saying goes “there is more than one way to skin a cat”. Sufficed to say that if you do not feel like shooting your target, a fatal accident can happen if you so wish. This is a fresh addition to this game over its predecessors which really does open it up and allow you to play in a more non-linier fashion. It's extremely satisfying going through an entire mission without having to fire a single bullet but each target is eliminated!

Weapons

Another new feature is the new “weapon upgrade” system. Each time you complete your hit, Agent 47 is paid for his services. This money allows you to then upgrade your weapons with laser sights, armour piercing bullets, enhanced lock picks, etc. This adds so much depth and individuality to the game where you really can make your mark on how you operate your missions.

However, don't think that having powerful weapons will make the hits easier. It's more blood thirsty for sure which is half the fun, but it will cost you if you're not tidy. For example, if you leave your suit and escape a level in a disguise, there will be a cost for suit retrieval. In addition to this, if you’re hit is messy, you’ll leave more evidence for the authorities to pick up on. This might not seem too bad but the more evidence there is, the more your notoriety raises. Ah yes, the notoriety system, what is this I hear you say? Let me explain!

Newspaper

At the end of each level, a newspaper report with a photo-fit is displayed which displays details of the hit, how sloppy or professional you were, the number of bullets found at the scene and if there are any witnesses. The more evidence you leave, the more your notoriety will rise. This might not seem a problem in the early levels, but as the authorities become aware of who you are, the missions will become a lot more difficult. I tested this by letting my notoriety rise and when walking into the opera house level, a member of the public screamed and pointed at me. It appears my face was on his newspaper and the police promptly turned up to fill me full of lead!!

However, all is not lost. You can “bribe” witnesses and even the police (at a cost) which will lower your status and turn you back into the “ghost” assassin! It's also very amusing to see your photo on the front page of the paper after you have bribed the authorities as the picture looks absolutely nothing like you. Fantastic!

Another new addition is the improved control system which focuses on a new user interface set up. Initially this felt slightly odd as I'm used to the previous games which all used the same system. However, after a small amount of time learning the new layout, I was comfortable in the way the game played and flowed. This combined with the new close combat system which now allows hand to hand combat makes this a very flexible game.

Blood Money will appeal to gamers of varying degrees of ability as there are a wide range of difficulty settings. The easiest setting uses very simple AI and unlimited saves whereas at the hardest setting, you'll have full AI and no save games permitted! The one thing that I did find frustrating however is that when saving mid-mission, it would not retain these save games once you had quit the game. As the levels are now massive with so much to do, it would have been nice to be able to save the game and come back later to continue.


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Graphics & Sound

Graphically this game is very impressive! The developers have worked extremely hard on this title and it definitely shows. The new gaming engine has been built from scratch and really does show off new lighting, shadows and higher resolution textures. In addition to this the character models are far more detailed with bump and normal mapping in effect compared to the previous titles.

Casino Mardi

The two missions that really stand out are the Mardi Gras level and Heaven & Hell. The street party on the Mardi Gras mission is nothing short of breath taking with hundreds of people walking around, dancing and waving glow sticks! The sound also adds to this with a lot of background chatter from people speaking merged with the beats and bass from the speaker system. This type of level is a first for the Hitman series and by using the new engine, it has meant that there is no significant performance drop when drawing many computer generated characters.

Heaven Hell

My personal favourite level however is Heaven & Hell. This consists of one building and two parties, one on the top floor (Heaven) and one in the basement (Hell). The atmosphere created from the particle lighting system and fantastic soundtrack creates an unforgettable impression when walking around the level. In Heaven, the rooms are light and airy with particles reminiscent of fairy dust floating around. Hell is quite a contrast with spirits whooshing around and a red haze from the beating lights in the club. Walking around this level, you can almost feel the heat especially the way in which the dance floor is crowded. This is a very well thought out level and the overall feeling you get when playing it nothing short of breath taking!

Heaven Hell

The soundtrack to the game is also very well executed. Subdued beats are used when sneaking about which change to a faster paced note when the heat is turned up! In addition to this, the way in which the slower music is used throughout the game really works well with Agent 47’s calm and almost ice like character. It makes him appear a very cool, collected and ruthless contract killer…perfect then!!


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Conclusion

So does this game offer us anything new? Well it builds upon an already very well built game and offers us a variety of new features. The all new "Glacier Game Engine" includes a number of new moves and a revamped AI system makes the game a lot more enjoyable to play.

There is also an online statistics system where you can upload your Hitman status results and compare yourself to other players worldwide. Although this is a good feature, I’d like to potentially see a multiplayer option in future titles.

Blood money is another fantastic addition to the Hitman series. It builds upon an already solid foundation and incorporates a number of new features that would justify the purchasing of this game. The new notoriety system adds to the challenge as careless early missions cost you in the latter ones. Additionally the new payment system allows you to sculpt your character in your own personal way and really does add to the depth of the game. With a potential "love interest" for Agent 47 in the next Hitman game, the character is certainly growing along with the game itself.

Pro's
+ Many ways to complete missions
+ New hand to hand combat system
+ Improved control setup over previous Hitman
+ Excellent graphics with a new gaming engine
+ Fantastic orchestral soundtrack

Con's
- The new additions do not fundamentally alter the core experience of the game compared to previous Hitman's
- Levels can be confusing as there are so many ways in which to complete them
- Save games are not retained after you exit the game
- No multiplayer option

Gamers Choice

Hitman Blood Money can be purchased from Play.Com for around £18.

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