Hitman: Blood Money
On November 20th a new game of the popular Hitman series will be released, Hitman: Absolution. To give you an idea about what to expect I played the previous game of the series which was Hitman: Blood Money, released in 2006. It is available for PC, PS2 and Xbox.
Hitman is (so far) a series of 4 games, the first was released in 2001. The player takes on the role of the genetically improved contract killer '47' who is working for a mysterious agency. He is the perfect killer, but not one of the hyper-modern kind with fancy gadgets and high tech armor. He is one of the classic types relying on guns and a sling and always well dressed in a suit and red tie and of course gloves. The only way he can possibly be identified is the bar code tattoo on the back of his shaved head, showing his ID number which he got in the lab where he was 'manufactured'.
Hitman: Blood Money is (like the other Hitman games) a single player game which is divided into several missions. Each mission has their own location and one or more targets that have to be assassinated. It is important to note that these really are the only targets that should be killed. Although it is possible to do this the game does in no way encourage killing more people or running around and shooting at everything that moves. The player is supposed to act stealthily and thoughtful, kill as few innocents as possible and leave no traces that could tell the authorities who is responsible for the murder. To achieve this the player has to spend time watching people and how they move around the area and listening to their conversations. It is often necessary to start a mission more than once until it works right. 47 has to knock people unconscious and steal their clothes to dress up and get access to special security areas, guards and/or policemen are to be found everywhere and no target is easy to reach. There often are also additional (sometimes optional) objectives like obtaining various items that the victims own and there always is more than one way to solve a mission. Once the target is eliminated and all objects found there is still the task of leaving the site unnoticed.
The layout of the missions is usually quite like a maze, with many connected rooms of a house or streets. It's easy to get directions wrong or forget where one came from. This adds an extra challenge to the game.
After every mission the player can read a newspaper article about what he has done. Depending on how stealthy or violent they acted the text changes. The mission reward also depends on how well 47 was disguised and how few/many innocents were hurt. Connecting all the different mission is one story: more and more agents of 47's Agency are killed and 47 himself is a target too. Somebody tries to kill him and every mission could be a trap.
Although the graphics of Hitman: Blood Money of course cannot compare to a new game, the age mostly becomes visible in the cinematics between the missions. Their resolution is very obviously not made for modern screens. The design as such and layout of the missions on the other hand is truly very good. This game was obviously made by people who are interested in architecture and interior design. The settings really are worth having a closer look at. During the course of the game the player will for instance find himself in an old theatre, a very modern hotel and a mountain resort built in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright.
While 47 himself is clearly not a 'good guy' you get attached to him during the game. It always is obvious that while he is not very nice he still is doing a necessary thing as all of his targets can't be defined as innocents either. Every single one of them is a criminal and 47 seems to be a necessary evil. And... he's cool. Really, he is.
Hitman: Blood Money is a game for people who don't mind doing things twice and are patient enough to watch and wait and get the timing right or to fiddle and try to do missions again and again in different ways. I certainly enjoyed Hitman and will probably buy the new game, too. I was especially (positively) surprised about the ending – but I won't spoil it for anyone.