Hitman: Codename 47
With outstanding graphics and realistic effects, Eidos Interactive takes you into the seedy world of death-for-hire. You’ll go from basic hitman training to Hong Kong, where you’ll start a gang war and finish off one of the gang’s big men. Then you're off to Columbia where you’ll rid the world of a drug lord and his lab. You’ll save the world’s leaders from a bombing in Budapest and in Rotterdam you’ll stop a gunrunner. All in all, these four scenarios amount to 12 separate missions. The number of missions is smaller than was originally promised and there has been a lot of griping on discussion boards about the relatively small number of missions and the game's occasional bugginess. But overall, it’s a good, difficult game with amazing graphics and smart little details.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
This game takes more tact and guile than charge-ahead craziness. What I liked most aboutlevel-completion requirements is that it doesn’t stoop to the occasional step1-step2-step3 stupidity of some of the fantasy console games out there (e.g. first you have to grab the chalice and then you fill your water jug half-full before jumping into the lava while hitting the A-X key combination, which will give you superpowers, or whatever). Instead, you simply have goals you need to accomplish before you can get paid. Your employer doesn’t care how or in what order you do them, just that you get them done.
Most disappointing for me, gameplay-wise, was the lack of a clear storyline ala Command & Conquer, where your "boss" would tell you how and why this mission needs to be accomplished. The technology for nice video cut-scenes between missions has been there for a long time and I think that extra bit of interactivity seems a natural fit in this sort of game, and it would have made Hitman a much better game. Instead, all we get before a mission is a "Laptop" interface with some textual details, surveillance photos, and a map of the area. In fact, Hitman only uses 304 MB on the CD-ROM. Combine the sparse cut-aways with the small number of missions, and it seems Eidos may have rushed this out the door to hit a launch target, instead of making a better game and using that other 346 MB of potential.
With more and more options and movements available to your player in today’s single-person shoot-em-ups, it seemed inevitable that I’d eventually have to get away from my preferred controls -- spanning the evolution from Doom to Quake to Half-Life -- using the directional arrows and the mouse for movement, with Ctrl for jump, Shift for strafe, etc…. But Hitman, with its "Sneak Mode" and directional leaning to peek around corners, has made it necessary for me to learn to finally use the 10-key keypad. Note that the keys are still customizable, so you can use your preferred system, but with the more complex controls it might be time to move on, if you haven’t already.
The graphics in Hitman are exceptional. When dressed in your hitman gear (black suit, tie... you know, hitman clothes), you get suspicious stares from everyone and their heads turn with you as they crane their necks, watching you as you pass. Plants move as you brush by them and if you blow out the tanks in the Hong Kong restaurant, you’ll see tasty-looking lobsters writhing on the ground. Human movements are also very smooth and realistic.
The background soundtrack is quite good and especially appropriate. I couldn’t imagine any music more suitable for stealthily gunning down the bad guys. Voices are good, but each type of person has the same exact vocabulary. For example, waiters only have one audio track: "Have mercy!" Also on the Hong Kong level, Red Dragon Guards say a few different things, but all with exactly the same voice. Again, it would have been more interesting to record a couple more voices and use some more of that empty disk space.
Minimum: Pentium II-300, 64MB RAM, 400MB disk space, 8X CD-ROM, and a 3D-accelerated video card with 12MB VRAM.
Reviewed On: Pentium III 667, Win98, 96MB RAM, 20GB HD, 3DFX Voodoo3 3000 (16MB), Creative Labs Soundblaster AWE 64, and a 24x CD-ROM.
Room For Improvement
As previously noted, there has been a lot of talk about this game on discussion boards, where people complained about how easy it was to finish, so that their thirty-five or forty bucks gave them only three or four hours of gameplay. The lack of a "Save Game" feature is also a big complaint, but is possibly one of the things thrown in (or left out, rather) to extend the entertainment life of the game. I can say that after about ten hours of play, I’m still quite a ways from finishing the game and that is probably due to not being able to save my gameplay. Whether that’s good or bad is for you to decide. I also experienced quite a few bugs (strange graphical glitches, game crashes) until I installed the patch. With this sort of concept, it’s hard to consider what a multiplayer version would look like, but something creative might have satisfied more people and extended their entertainment dollar.
Though far from an instant classic, Hitman is a decent (and bloody gruesome) game, that makes the most of graphical quality while not being tremendously complex, story-wise. Perhaps this will be repaired with freely downloadable mission packs, but it’s a better bet that you’ll have to pay another twenty bucks for more missions. If you’re the sort to power through a mission-oriented game like this in one restless night, and that’s worth the money for you, then get it. But if you’re looking for a long-lasting thrill or something so addictive that will make you go days without sleep or food, then you should probably look elsewhere.