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Hitman: Blood Money Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Eidos Interactive
developer: IO Interactive
genre: Sneakers

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
PIII 800, 256MB RAM, 2GB HDD, 32MB video card
ESRB rating: M
homepage:
www.hitman.com/

release date: May 30, 06
» All About Hitman: Blood Money on ActionTrip


If there is one thing you could say about the Hitman series it's that, barring its rocky start, it's been fairly reliable as far as the quality of the content is concerned (and that it's more violent than PMSing woman denied chocolate -Ed). Some people felt, however, that Hitman: Contracts was wavering a bit in those regards, so there was some pressure on Hitman: Blood Money to put the series back on the right track.

The biggest draw of the Hitman games - what makes them unique and appealing to people - certainly has to do with the main character himself - the baldheaded assassin for hire, a clone codenamed Agent 47. So as much as Hitman games are about gameplay design, the driving force behind the series is still very much tied to the charisma of Mr. 47, as well as the quality of the story (2Lions has a thing for bald men! Spread the rumor around! -Ed).

I can say with some degree of certainty that Hitman: Blood Money doesn't bring any spectacular novelties in the gameplay department, but it does put the franchise back on track as far as the story is concerned. Obviously, the Hitman series is all about the single-player experience, so it's critical that the plot, the characters, and all the other elements of a good narrative are in place if the game is to keep the player's attention. Hitman: Blood Money does very well in this department. The story is immersive, it has an underlining effect on each of the missions, and it's told in such a way that it makes the game suspenseful to the very end. In addition, the game is brimming with delightful little background details that both make 47 look cool and the game world vibrant and intriguing.

Besides the storyline, one of the strongest points of this game is the art direction, which is superb. Each of the levels will feel unique and intricate. Each new mission presented a visual treat and an interesting environment to explore. The strategic addition of a great number of characters in certain scenes (like in the Mardi Gras mission) gives a dose of believability and authenticity to the game world (even though there would be just several NPC archetypes in each of these massive scenes). Hitman: Blood Money looks very pretty and that has mostly to do with great art direction, rather than the DX 9 bells and whistles.

The mission design seems to rely even more on the stealthy approach and the player's ability to solve problems quietly and inconspicuously. IO may have even gone too far with this. The weapons weren't all that important, and I found the 'all guns blazing' approach much too arduous and frankly, a bit redundant. The downside to this clear-cut focus on stealth mission design is that the developers often made it too easy for player to determine what they need to do in a given situation. Most of the time, the solution seemed *way* too convenient, like the targets were almost throwing themselves at you. This is not a matter of game difficulty, rather the layout of the missions themselves. It seemed to me like some of the older games definitely had some trickier situations for players to deal with. Hence, the missions seemed to last a bit longer as well as provide more of a challenge.

Technically, Hitman: Blood Money is a solid game. I didn't have any major problems with the AI (it seemed to do exactly what it should for the most part), and playing on both an ATI and NVIDIA system, the frame rate remained pretty steady throughout even with all the effects turned on.

Hitman: Blood Money is definitely one of the better games in the series. Its strong sides include a very well told story, characterization, and great level design, as well as all the other gameplay treats we'd expect from a Hitman game. However, some rather straightforward solutions to mission tasks make the game more linear than it used to be, and consequently, the replay value suffers from it.

Hitman: Blood Money is definitely worth your money. It's a game with a lot of charm and personality. It doesn't bring anything particularly new to the table, but it still has more than enough attributes to impress.

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ACTIONTRIP SCORE
8.3   Very Good


HIGHS
Great story and characterization, game world oozes with personality, art and level design, fun game overall;

LOWS
Some mission tasks too straightforward, replay value, no important gameplay changes.

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