TITLE: Hitman: Blood Money
PUBLISHER: Eidos, Inc
DEVELOPER: IO Interactive
DATE RELEASED: May 30, 2006
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 1
XBOX SYSTEM LINK: No
XBOX LIVE COMPATIBLE: Yes
HDTV Support: 720p
PLATFORM: Xbox 360
ESRB: M (Mature)-for Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs
Retail Price: $59.99 USD
I ran through this game over the weekend and I must say I was rather disappointed with the overall package. Having never played a Hitman game before I really didn’t know what to expect going into it as far as what I was going to encounter. I have never read anything about the series nor have I ever really paid it much attention. Since a friend of mine was so generous and let me borrow it for the weekend I gave it a try, hoping for something that would “kill” some time. It did just that, but looking back I must ask, was it worth it?
Blood Money is not a great looking game. It looks good, better than average I would say, but it isn’t going to knock your socks off with its visual flair or anything like that. There is a pretty reasonable amount of detail put into the characters and the environments which is respectable. Though some sections of the game tend to look a little bland at times, for the most part the game maintains a certain visual integrity which as you progress through the game you will ignore more and more as you become more focused on the method of your killings and how you will pull them off.
As anyone who has read any of my previous reviews knows, I am a rather large sound buff. I break my critique down to a few core essentials, clarity, quality, and originality. If there is one thing I can not stand when playing a game it is recycled, garbled, twanging sounds coming from my $60 software investment. For the most part the sound remains clear. At times the dialogue during the interlude movies between levels is a bit quite, but that is something that can be fixed with the adjustment of your volume knob. The music is so/so at best, but it really just drones into the background when you really get into the game. The one big thing that seemed to grab my attention over and over again was the sound affects. They just seemed to be the same old recycled noises that we have heard so many times before. I, for one, greatly appreciate it when developers take the time to go into the studio and make some fresh sounds for the game. It shows me as a consumer just how much care and effort went into the product they want me to buy. When I see, or better yet hear, something like that it gives me peace of mind when I go in and blind buy something that will be made later down the road by that same company. What I mean by that is, when the next Hitman comes out and I see it at the store I will look at it and go “I know the last game was decent, but it seemed as though they were lacking in the sound department. Being a consumer who enjoys high quality sound can I trust in the developers and buy this game without knowing what the sound quality is like, or will I waste my $60 with a product I will be disappointed in?” In an optimal setting I would go “The last game in the series was quality all around, given that information and experience I can safely say that this would be a good well rounded investment on my part. I think I will purchase it.”
So as I got into the game my first time around I didn’t know what to expect so I choose the easiest difficulty and started. The first level is your “tutorial” stage where you are shown the basics of how the game works. Though I found that the controls are rather sluggish and unresponsive at times, the button mapping they used is quite handy. Everything you need is quickly accessed and easily sorted and maintained. Getting into your inventory in the heat of the moment is a bit of a pain as you have to hold down the X button for a second or two. I say it is a pain because tapping the X button also unholsters whatever weapon you may have equipped so if you get into trouble and things heat up and you need a new weapon from your inventory you sometimes end up just pulling out the weapon you have equipped and getting shot to death because you couldn’t get to your gun or something right away. Aside from having to adjust your strategy a little bit to accommodate that little annoyance the game play is pretty good. . . once you figure out what you need to do.
For anyone who is like me and doesn’t, or didn’t, know what this game really was about it is quite simple. You are a Hitman being paid to do what a Hitman does, kill. How you kill and what you do to accomplish that kill can vary. During one play through on a level I found myself setting up a good position to snipe my targets from a distance and did just that. A second run through that same level I found myself discovering a way to have someone else do my dirty work for me without them realizing it and then I dropped a chandelier on my secondary target and walked right out the front door with no one any wiser.
Now you are probably saying to yourself “COOL I have to try this game!”. Well be forewarned. You are going to play through each and every single level in this game, until you get the gist of what is going on, many many many times over. Nothing in the game is simple. I was playing on easy and it still took me almost an hour of playing the same level over and over again for each level before I figured out what I need to do and where I need to go to accomplish my task. That may seem fun . . . for a while. But after about an hour of going “WHAT THE HELL DO I DO NEXT!” and pulling your hair out you tend to loose heart in the game and want to shut the console off. When you do figure out what to do and you end up pulling off the kill, the satisfaction is good, but in my opinion the end result does not give you as much satisfaction as trying to find out what to do gave you frustration. The harder the difficulty you play on, the harder it is to accomplish your kills. Stealth, anonymity, timing and patience, especially patience, play huge roles in this game so if you do not have a high quantity of those qualities be weary if you decide to play this game. This is not a run and gun type shooter. Even on easy trying to run and gun through it will get you no where but to the restart screen. On the upside though, if you do manage to gun down all the guards that are in whatever level you are playing, they do not re-spawn so if you manage to kill everyone who can kill you, you basically can run willey-nilley through the level as you please without any interference. I wouldn’t recommend that though as your end level results will suffer, resulting in you being paid less.
Now it is unfair of me to do nothing but harp on the negative side of the game because really the game does have a fair amount of depth in the game play. You can go into missions with weapons from the start or you can go in unarmed and pick them up as you go. Sometimes it is smart to go in with nothing as guards will sometimes run metal detectors over you and if they find anything you are busted. Other times it is smart to go fully loaded and ready for action. Another big aspect of this game is blending in. By that I mean drawing as little attention to yourself as possible so that no one can identify you. You can knock people out or kill them, hide their bodies, and take their clothing. Why would you want to take their clothes you may ask? Well it seems rather odd to see someone in a nice suit running around a hospital when everyone is wearing gowns and doctors scrubs right? As each level progress’s you may need to do multiple clothing changes, or if you choose, you may just run through the game in your suit, but this will raise suspicion and make it just a bit harder for you to accomplish your goals.
I really don’t want to give away too much of the story for anyone who is interested in playing so I will keep this section rather broad. The game is basically a story about a reporter getting the “scoop of the century” on 47 (47 is the Hitman) from an ex-head of the FBI, Director, Alexander Leland Cayne. They are basically discussing 47’s hits over the past two years (2004-2005) leading up to present day. From there the game takes a crazy twist and I will leave it at that for anyone who is curious to play as it is a serious twist that may or may not have detrimental affects on the story line for the next game in the series.
I really didn’t see too much that this game has to offer with Xbox Live. It is Live aware, but I didn’t poke to much further into it to see what it had to offer.
I am just going to cut right to the chase on this. I say, at best, unless you are a die hard series fan of the game rent this one before you buy it
. If you find that you like it, and don’t mind spending large quantities of time wandering aimlessly around a level grumbling to yourself about how tired of doing the same level over and over again you are then by all means get it. The game is just not something that, once finished, you will look at and get the urge to play through over again. Once you figure out a few decently orchestrated kills for each level, the fun factor just dissipates and you are left with nothing more than the memories of all the annoyance the game caused you. A big saving throw for the game is the depth and the story line. I enjoyed both. Even without playing any of the other Hitman games I dived right in and could follow along very easily without having any kind of back story from the other games. Though I did not really enjoy the game as much as I was hoping I would, I am still on the fence when it comes to a numerical score for the game. It has high points, but the low points far outweigh them. I give the game an unsteady 5
. For me it could really go both ways. The frustration factor in the game could make me rate it far lower than 5, but the story line, depth, and atmosphere of the game could make me push it just a bit higher than 5. It is a good game for the fans of the series, but if you are looking to 100% a game in a single weekend . . . look elsewhere.