Games have long been regarded as a way to escape the tedium of daily life, to add a dash of spark, a pinch of variety, and a touch of spice. Of course, as players mature, games like Monopoly and Risk, Spy Hunter and Mission Impossible, tend to slip gradually by the wayside, to be supplanted by bigger thrills, bigger spills, and much, much bigger chills.
When it comes to chills, you can't do much better than Hitman: Blood Money. In this latest installment in the Hitman franchise, you play once more as the black suit-wearing, barcode-sporting, assassin-with-a-bad-attitude Agent 47 as he goes about his daily mission of delivering justice on behalf of those that can afford his shadowy organization's fees. This exciting journey takes the player to a variety of places while eliminating a variety of targets and, eventually, pits you against another organization similar to yours who wants to be top of the heap in the assassination biz. You won't be bored, I can tell you that much.
The game play in Hitman: Blood Money, like the previous titles in the series, is primarily stealth-based, but if you feel hell bent for leather you can certainly play it in a more "run and gun" style. Doing so, however, as in all things, will entail certain consequences. For instance, if you simply blaze your way through a level, wasting everything between you and the target, you will become more notorious. This means that your future missions will become more difficult, especially if the local press manages to snap any photos or videos of you during your shooting spree. If, on the other hand, you are more subtle and more discriminating with your targets, and don't make a huge mess, then the people you're hunting will be less on their guard. Plus, you won't bankrupt yourself by having to lavish people with bribes in order to sanitize your reputation.
Weapons choice is a factor as well. Sure, an assault rifle has plenty of stopping power, but good luck trying to get it past a guard inside your suit jacket. ("What's this? Um… it's a wedding present. Yeah, that's the ticket.' ) Maybe you should have tried a silenced pistol in a tasteful shoulder holster, instead…
Blood Money introduces new play options not available in previous Hitman titles. A rather neat example of this is the weapon reversal. If an enemy points a gun at you, if you time it right then you can grab it out of his hand and turn it on him. Other new moves include head-butting adversaries for momentary advantage in combat, the tried-and-true human shield trick. You can even get on top of elevator cars, dangle your garroting wire through the access panel, then drop it around some poor sap's neck. Throughout the game, there's plenty of death for all, and if you find you stirred up too much heat you can always duck in the closet until the bad men go away.
Graphically, the game is very nice. The environments are very well designed, as are the characters themselves, however we noticed that Hitman's designers got around the age old problem of having to make too many character designs by using one body type and merely changing their outfits. It seems that your character isn't the only clone around; it's like a grittier version of the Stepford Wives without Christopher Walken. Most of the objects in the rooms are static and you can't interact with them, except in some circumstances. For instance, you go into room, and shoot the two gangsters sitting at the table. They will stand up hurriedly and then fall backward causing the money on the table to flutter.
Gameplay- 6 This is where I felt the game suffered the most. Hitman: Blood Money often requires you to make quick and precise movements, however the game's control scheme is often clunky and overly complicated, so this becomes difficult. The game itself is also too linear for my taste: you simply go from one job the next. The only real variety comes from the game's various locations and challenges you face that come from the somewhat thin plot – your Agency, it seems, is being attacked by a rival group. I know that's not bad, but I like games that don't take themselves too seriously. Also, there's no mid-mission saving allowed: if you decide to quit in the middle of a mission, you lose all your saved progress and have to start it again from the beginning.
Graphics- 9 Despite the cookie-cutter aspect of a lot the characters in the game I must give credit where credit is due. The characters look quite good, maybe not as amazingly real as Half Life 2's characters, but they are still very well designed and animated. The environments, while well designed and good looking, are not anything that will take your breath away (I think Valve has spoiled me forever). Ambient lighting is top notch as is the look of the water. The game suffers from some slight graphic problems, though. If you sneak up behind someone and start to strangle him with your wire you could actually be several paces behind him, with the wire not even touching him, and he would still be strangled. It's more like Hypnotist instead of Hitman.
Audio-8 The audio in this game is very good. The introduction starts off with a woman singing "Ave Maria", which really helped set the mood of the entire game immediately. The rest of the musical score occasionally seems a bit mismatched with the action it's coupled with, however. I'd think that music with a powerful, driving beat would be better for action sequences than while sneaking through darkened rooms, for example. Even with this in mind, I still thought the music was really wonderful.
Value-7 If you've played the previous Hitman games, or just a fan of the stealth genre, then you really can't go wrong with Hitman: Blood Money. The game also features an online mode so that, when you're done mowing down the AI-controlled opposition, you can go out into the Net and finish the job..well, not literally. The game does feel like it was designed to appeal to diehard gamers and not so much the casual set, so if you've played (and, more importantly, enjoyed) any previous games in the series, then Blood Money should be very much to your liking.
Curve-7 This score was particularly tricky to grade. There was much about the game that was good: the lighting, the music, the character models, etc. However, there were also many things that soured the game for me, such as the game's lack of a mid-mission save system, the too-linear gameplay, the awkward controls, and the game's habit of being generally too strict. Unless you liked the previous games and are prepared to deal with the frustrations, I really can't give Blood Money an enthusiastic recommendation. If you decide to try it anyway, don't say I didn't warn you.