Hitman: Blood Money
Blood Money is the fourth part of this stealth-series and for me the first Hitman game I actually got to check out. Luckily the game doesn’t need and knowledge of the previous parts so that both newcomers and experienced virtual hired assassins immediately feel at home.
While in the previous games you had to account for your target as well as the obstacles between your shiny gloves and his or her bare neck, you’ll now also get deadly opposition from another agency that likes nothing more than getting rid of you. Also the storyline thrives on this rivalry and as you progress things get only more interesting. Same for the missions: where in the beginning you’re taken by the hand, towards the end you’ll have to figure everything out yourself. Luckily the makers succeeded to finding original missions with a lot of personality, atmosphere and the necessary macabre and sometimes humouristic details.
You get 12 missions in total including locations like the carnival in New Orleans (one of the most memorable settings), a casino in Vegas, a river boat and a typical American suburb. What especially gets noticed here are the many people, hostile or neutral, which you have to take into consideration if you want to fulfill your objective without getting noticed. Their AI is quite enjoyable as long as you don’t take advantage of the obvious problems. Behaviour like talking to each other and smoking a cigarette help to give the world a more realistic and believeable facet (and are at the same time ideal moments to “take someone seperately”). The biggest flaw in their brains is according to me that, once alarmed, they start charging at you like a bunch of braindead lemmings after which you can easily take them out. If you really want you can finish about every level this way but then of course you take away the fun of the “normal” playing.
Nonetheless the freedom to do what you want remains present, although the sneaky way is as said the most satisfying. If you want to play commando you can do this but of course with some consequences. This freedom isn’t only brought forth by the big, atmospheric, levels and freedom of choice, also the way you can kill people is very varied.
Next to boring guns (that deliver less points than more creative solutions) you’ve got more “fun” options like knives, bombs, poison and accidents you can provoce by watching the surroundings closely and pushing luck (in this case your target) a bit at the right time. It may sound a bit gross but the more original and splashy you get someone killed, the more money will end in your pocket. Also concerning different moves there are a ton of unforeseen possibilities. Hiding in a closet, stealing security tapes and hiding corpses in all sort of places, it’s all possible. You’ll rarely get stuck in a mission and also the difficulty degrees are nicely split so that you can choose how much help you want during a mission. Amongst others there’s a radar where possible dangers are highlighted and with which it’s easy to find your way.
Once some blood has flowed or airpipes have been shut, you escape fro mthe level and get accounted for your actions and especially on whether or not you were discrete. If you’ve let a lot of dead bodies laying around you’ll get noticed quicker on your next mission and will need to be more careful and sneaky or use a disguise. Luckily you can lower your fame with some cash which you can also use for buying new gear like weapon upgrades, laser beams or silencers.
Visually everything is as tight as that piano string around your neck, with beautiful animations (very important) and light and shadow effects that bring the necessary atmosphere that goes with the genre. Also the very well worked out surroundings do this as they are for a big part responsible for the allround feel of the game. Sound effects also got recorded with the necessary care, just like the enjoyable achievements from the voice actors and the soundtrack which is discrete but very effective.
Hitman: Blood Money made me a fan of the series and will no doubt appeal to you as long as you don’t exploit its weaknesses. Then you’ll get a lot of satisfaction from the very fun and varied missions, the special atmosphere and the create aspect necessary to track your target, sneak up to him/her and kill as originally as possible. Together with the excellent finishing and achievements this top game gets a decent score.