Sunday, December 20, 2015

1PanelReview Hitman 4

You and I are all that’s left of the agency, 47. And I doubt I’ll survive much longer.

I’m sorry to hear that. Has my fee been transferred?
Time to dig out the past, M. 47! Reviews of the Hitman series:
What it is: Hitman: Blood Money also known as Hitman 4

Which is: A Third Person Shooter/Stealth action game
Created by: IO Interactive/Eidos Interactive
Year: 2006
Available on: PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2 & PS3

Hitman: Blood Money is the 4th episode in the Hitman series. The game was released in 2006, as always developed by IO Interactive for Eidos Interactive.

After an anthology episode, Hitman: Blood Money goes back to the traditional formula of the series. We're back following the adventures of the "super clone" and trained assassin Agent 47 with a proper story. The story is intercut around the gameplay with cutscenes that see the former FBI Director being interviewed by a journalist, telling the reporter how they were finally able to get 47!...

What's Good about it: Blood Money is simply a phenomenal game! It's a Hitman game done right. IO Interactive was at the top of their game. With Contracts they really nailed down the formula and the level design, so Blood Mooney was the perfect time to revitalize the gameplay and update their engine. The game looks great, plays great and simply feels right. Everything is nailed down to make this the best Hitman experience possible.
The game is fairly long all things considered, and it has a lot surprises in store from beginning to end - really. Stay for the credits!!
Blood Money sees the return of the narrative intertwined with the missions. Each level is basically a mini-sandbox of its own, offering all kinds of way to get to your objectives. The levels are based around one main murder, and there's often a few other secondary objectives, obligatory or not. And if that isn't enough for you, 47 always must escape the location which can offer its own set of troubles.
IO was able to refine the gameplay as close to perfection as they could. 47 can use all the usual stealth actions and use a vast equipment to help him out. There's all sorts of weapons, items and disguises to hide in plain sight, disarm guards and even use them as human shield as hostages this time!
The game introduces a lot of new features, 47 can perform new actions such as disposing of the bodies in containers and whatnot.
Each level offers various ways to approach your targets and you're free to play around and explore. You can go gun blazing, which is really easy to do so this time but try to avoid it! You can make deaths look like accidents by rigging equipment, pushing people off balconies, etc.
The most notable new addition is the Notoriety System. As usual you must avoid detection if you don't want to raise any alarm, but this time there's a practical explanation for this. If there's any witnesses or you're caught on camera the FBI will get closer to narrow 47 and identify him, which affects 47's worldwide notoriety. So either avoid making too much noise or relying on violence if you don't want to make yourself known to bystanders, or you will have to spend money to lower your notoriety in-between missions instead of using said money on weapons or upgrading your tools. And bribing authorities can cost a lot!
As always in a Hitman game, the story is pretty engaging! It's really interesting to follow the overall plot of the FBI catching up on Agent 47. There's this new shadowy organization called The Franchise which has been hunting down The Agency, forcing them to shut down with no more funding. 47's contact Diana has been forced on the run. Old acquaintances might be new enemies. And there's also a few other assassins out there! The Franchise has not only been employing some killer hitman but they also got their hands on some of the last active clones out there! These killers make for some interesting "boss" confrontations, like this Maynard John who has a lot of respect for 47's work, but also the mysterious albino assassins Mark Purayah II - aka "Mark II", and Mark Parchezzi III - "Mark III". The story revolves around the US President trying to pass a law regarding actual human cloning - leading 47 from the Maryland to Chile, Paris, a rehab center and the suburbs in California, after some gangster in the witness protection program, Mardis Gras in the Louisiana, a penthouse in the rocky mountains, a riverboat on the Mississippi, a casino and a really weird S&M private club in Vegas to finally the White House! No place is same from 47!
It's a great Hitman game covering a lot of ground, story and places. You can even complete the game without firing a single shot - true story!
The engine has never looked better, it's impressive how far it has come since the first game! It can even display so many NPCs on screen in the Maris Gras stage... It's such a gorgeous-looking game, it still impressed me even a whole decade later!
And once more, what would a Hitman game be without the gorgeous music composed by Jesper Kyd. Sadly this would be his last work for the series, who would then go on to work exclusively on Assassin's Creed games for Ubisoft after Blood Money. For this last game he composed such a fantastic score, this time mixing things up between Hitman 2's familiar chorals with the electronic of Codename 46 and Contracts. It's really cinematic and impressive and always works great in the game's favor (particularly after a kill). There's also a great rendition of Franz Schubert's Ave Maria which would leave such a mark on the series they even used it on the live action film a well.

What's Bad about it: What is bad about the game, really? 
Well, it can be said the formula was getting a bit stale by this point. It's still such a fun series to play, but this was starting to look like more of the same for the 4th time. There's nothing really new to the game, and even fans were asking for more at the time. Some more originality or surprises would have been nice to shake things up once in a while (and so they did in the next game).
Also the game is hilariously easy even on harder difficulties. They started making the games more approachable for a mainstream audience, complete with an entire tutorial level, which made Hitman far too easy for novices and veterans. It's really easy to ditch the stealth and try rushing a level guns blazing.
Killing enemies as always been easy in Hitman to keep things realistic, but  47 can be riddled with bullets in Blood Money and still be running for quite a while. 47 can be gunned down way longer. And combine this with the fact you can easily melee attack now and disarm people, which only make things easier.
The new addition to distract enemies with a coin doesn't work as well as you would want it to, it's a far cry from whistling in Assassin's Creed or Splinter Cell... 
I liked the way missions evolved while in the field, adding targets, etc. But it didn't happen much in the game, it would have been nice to see this used for replay value.
Finally as much as I liked the idea of a notoriety system ,it didn't play much a role in the actual game since it also came down to the same storyline and there's only one conclusion for the game. You kinda wish they had thought more about this.

Overall: Hitman: Blood Money is easily one of the best entries in the series. In terms of gameplay it offers as much as you can possibly imagine. The levels can be huge, there's a ton to do and explore. It's fun to experiment with things with trial and error.

Highly Recommended for fans, and particularly for newcomers. It's such a great game! The game improves a lot on the previous episodes. While Contracts was sort of a best of for the levels of the series, Bloond Mooney combines the best elements ideas and additions, updating the stealth to make this the best possible experience.

There's a lot of fun scenarios and sequences, and the player even gets more freedom than ever to just mess around and explore. And let's not forget the fantastic orchestral score! The only real issue I have with the game is how easy it was and the notoriety system that wasn't that well implemented in the game.

Hitman: Blood Money was re-released as part of the console Hitman HD Trilogy and the complete PC collection Hitman Collection (pictured above).

The game was such a huge success for the franchise, it brought Hitman to the attention of a new generation of gamers. This immense success led to the following games getting bigger budget and more ambitious premise and even a first live action film production! The fact there has already been two films is without a doubt thanks to this game's success. The sequel game was still built around the same gameplay mechanics, but it also changed a lot of the structure of the game... which didn't please every fan, but that will be for another time...
I give it: 2.5 / 3!

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