Hitman: Blood Money
Though last summer's Hitman: Contracts was a disappointment in many ways, it did establish one fact pretty decisively: the Hitman series makes no apologies. Where Splinter Cell slaps you on the wrist you for taking lives and Thief is just plain jolly, this game is dirty. Filthy in fact. This is the game where you infiltrate S&M blood orgies and hack people up with meat cleavers. This is the game where you garrotte middle-aged women in the shower and dump their bodies in a ditch...
It's one of the reasons we still love Agent 47, despite his patchy track record, and one of the reasons why his next outing -now apparently delayed till Christmas - is still on our list of prime targets. Already, there are some great indications that this will be another brutal, unrepentant affair. I mean, for god's sake, the first official screenshots showed 47 pushing Santa Claus off of a balcony!
Of course, this was merely to demonstrate one of the cool new features - using gravity and the environment to make deaths look like accidents. We've just been shown through another new level - an Opera House in Paris - and there are some other great examples of this device to be found. Our favourite (if the insinuation of the developer is to be believed) involves planting a remote bomb on the anchor of the Grand Chandelier and waiting until your target wanders beneath before detonating. With carpentry work already going on all around the building, we think you can safely pass that one off as shoddy workmanship.
If you do things the old-fashioned way, there's yet another new feature to contend with -incriminating blood stains. Now, if you shoot or chop someone carelessly, the claret splatters at the scene; and if you drag the freshly punctured corpse away it leaves a sanguine trail for guards to follow. As such, cleaning up after yourself is a grisly new part of your assassination duties.
Perhaps even more welcome is the way money is better incorporated into the game. Rather than just assuming 47 splurges all his earnings on scalp wax, the new game gives you a chance to spend your ill-gotten gains on mods and upgrades for weapons.
So, think silencers, night vision scopes and so forth, as well as bribing corrupt cops and buying the silence of witnesses. This, combined with a plot that sees two rival assassin agencies at war, should give a much greater feeling of involvement in the world of contract killing, something strangely absent from previous outings. Clearly, there are some great ideas at work here. Let's just pray that Eidos gives the game enough time and support to see them come to fruition and that the Hitman series might once again be able to mix it with the best.
Download Hitman: Blood Money
Just Like Beer-Testing and plywood manufacturing, the contract killing industry is a highly desirable yet difficult line of work to get into. So, in a world of over-educated and under-skilled university graduates, where can we turn to find the next Agent 47 - an Agent 48, if you will? You can't kill a man with a BSc in Media Studies; you could probably give him a nasty paper-cut which might become infected, but that's merely an amputation at best. So for all you budding hitmen out there, here's everything you wanted to know about contract killing, but were too afraid of being garrotted at a urinal to ask...
- Where should I practice?
Anywhere with people will do just fine. Depending on your moral fibre or skill level, places like schools, churches and Battersea Kitten Orphanage are all fair game. In this particular example, we've chosen an institution for persons of erratic mental disposition, also known as a rehab clinic. All of the residents here are on a significantly lower rung of society than you or I, so this is an ideal setting for gratuitous violence with very few pioral repercussions. Jiffy bags of talcini powder can fetch quite a bit of extra dollar here too, but do try to focus on the task at hand.
- What should I wear?
Most of your clothing can be acquired on-site, but always wear the obligatory black suit and tie until you find a betterfitting alternative. Above is an errant drug-abuser hiding behind a dumpster in the grounds outside the clinic - he's not exactly using his clothes, so by all means take them from him. With the right garb you can fit in pretty much anywhere, despite your blatant slap-headedness. Indeed, if you hope to get inside the clinic at all, you'll need fthat white bathrobe and blue-stripe pyjama ensemble.
- He says he won't give me his clothes, what am I doing wrong?
People don't simply hand over clothes, except of course to Oxfam. and even then those clothes are generally horrible and wanted by nobody. No, if you want to dress to impress you'll need to forcefully remove this man's clothes and bundle him in the very dumpster he was trying to hide behind. Ignore the vague sexual connotations and wrap your piano wire around his neck, applying pressure until he slumps to the ground. As somebody probably once famously said, dead men don't need clothes, so don't be shy. Dead men don't need glasses either, by the way.
- Right, I'm dressed, but now there's a guard coming towards me!
Remember rule seven in the Dummy's Guide To Contract Killing (funnily enough also rule seven in the Dummy's Guide To Cottaging) - play it cool. It's not enough to look the part, you also have to be the part. You're a recovering alcoholic, not quite famous enough for Betty Ford's but still willing to reform. Avoid doing anything suspicious like climbing fences or brandishing heavy weaponry and you'll be fine. That 24-esque picture-in-picture shows one of your targets swigging away at a secret stash of booze in the clinic, something you'd do well to note.
- He's got a squeaking wand machine! WHAT NOW?!
Any excuses about accidentally swallowing a penny or having three metal rods in your spine due to a horrific tiddlywinks accident just won't fly with these guys. A real hitman doesn't need a gun anyway, or indeed any sort of weapon, so when approaching a metal detector you should leave your guns elsewhere (or perhaps arrange for them to get to wherever you're going by some other means, preferably inventive). Death can come from any direction, not just the barrel of a gun, so use your surroundings to kill your targets, like Jackie Chan.
- So how can I kill this guy without anybody noticing?
Well, let's review what we know about this guy so far. He likes pink bathrobes, he doesn't cross his legs when he sits down and he hides a bottle of Jack Daniels inside a globe from which he routinely swigs when the doctors aren't looking. You, on the other hand, are a contractual murderer with an array of poisons at your disposal. Put two and two together and you get a convulsive coma and cardiac arrest resulting in death. Watching the poor sod wretch and keel over is what being a hitman is all about. That, and the pension scheme.
- Everybody. Is. Staring. At. Me...
If you've done everything right nobody will suspect a thing. You've got a white bathrobe, respectable spectacles and a general air of intelligence about you, and while that's a rare thing in a rehab clinic, when's the last time an intelligent person ever did anything wrong? Yes, people are staring at you but they've always done that: you're bald, well over and have the emotional range of a comatose Keanu Reeves. Review your objectives, stop feeling so guilty and remember why you're here. Or follow the man who rather disrespectfully drags the corpse all the way to a makeshift morgue.
- This is all far too cerebral, I'll just takeout my sub-machine gun here...
Probably not the best thing to do»when you're a hitman, as while you do have gun skills far superior to the security guards dotted about the clinic, they'll eventually overcome you as there are just too many of them. Not to mention the fact that it's extremely unprofessional. You're not a murderer, you're a businessman (whose business happens to be murdering people). So play it safe, fulfil your contract and try not to get your bald barcode-head noticed.
Sneaking into the heavily guarded compound and eliminating one of the guards by knife was fairly easy. As was putting on his uniform and hiding his body. But getting close enough to kill the intended target without raising any suspicion? Now that's tricky.
Welcome to the fourth installment in the Hitman franchise, but with its new, fresh, wrap around storyline and completely engaging gameplay, you will not have needed to play any of the other games as this one is the best of the bunch and does in fact stand on its own merits.
From the get go, you can tell that this title is a slightly beefed port of a lesser system. True, the game is available on the PC, the PS2 and the Xbox, and they all look decent. But you can tell that this isn't a 'true'? 360 title. The game doesn't have that next generation sheen that other 360 titles have and while you probably won't mind since the game is too good, you will notice it from the get go.
But that's really the only blip on otherwise clear radar. The game controls incredibly well and has a keen way of letting the action play out; meaning, that when you finally do accept your assignment (hit) you are encouraged to use the natural items that are all around the huge levels. Barbeques can be rigged to explode when your target is near. Chandeliers can be dropped on them from above, they can be lured out to a balcony and then shoved off. Or you can walk up behind them and slit their throat with a knife. But since it is a mature title, the very bloody means are certainly up to you. But be careful, the franchise has introduced a notoriety gauge that you must try and keep low as the game progresses. If you are witnessed, if you are caught on camera then your notoriety begins to gain momentum and pretty soon your description will be all the place and that makes things tough when you are trying to sneak into a guarded compound. Fortunately you don't do all this killing for free and you can use that money to pay off those witnesses, effectively dropping your notoriety score.
Hitman: Blood Money is a sweet game. The slick gameplay, the innovative assassinations and the fact that between hits you are dealing with a rival agency that is eliminating your contacts and coming after you, makes this a first class action title.