Hitman: Blood Money Xbox
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Hitman: Blood Money Product Details
Released on 26/05/2006
Money Talks. Silence Pays. Prepare to Make a Killing.
When assassins from Agent 47’s contract agency, The ICA, are eliminated in a series of hits, it seems a larger, more powerful agency has entered the fray. Sensing he may be a target, 47 travels to America, and prepares to make a killing.
The world's deadliest assassin, Agent 47, is back and this time he's paid in cold, hard cash. How the money is spent will affect his passage through the game and the weapons at his disposal, resulting in a unique gameplay experience for each player. In Hitman: Blood Money, Agent 47 finds himself in the midst of a war between two rival contract agencies. When assassins from his contract agency, the ICA, are systematically eliminated in a series of hits, it seems a larger, more powerful agency has entered the fray. Suddenly, Agent 47 loses contact with the ICA. Sensing that he may be the next target, he travels to America where he attempts to carry on with business as usual. Powered by a new version of IO-Interactive's stunning Glacier engine, Hitman: Blood Money will deliver the most brutal and realistic simulation of the life of a merciless assassin.
Mark goes dark with gaming's stealthiest slaphead...
Anyone who's followed Hitman games over the years will have an idea of what to expect with Blood Money, the latest in Eidos' cult story-driven hi-tech assassination simulators. And anyone that doesn't know about the series - well, where have you been? As one of the premier action adventure titles of the last five years, the Agent 47-fronted franchise has won a host of admirers with its slick approach to gadget-laden Armani-suited infiltration, making this latest outing amongst the most promising titles of the year's second quarter.
The game is set to pick up where Contracts left off, following a series of missions that act as flashbacks to Agent 47's past assignments. Though mainly set in the US, the Hitman team are retaining the series' famed jet-setting feel with a wide array of cinematic backdrops and even more freely approachable mission objectives - and, if our recent look at the game's work-in-progress code is anything to go by, are heaping on a host of advancements to further improve the already established thoughtful assassin formula.
The first level we saw was one of the few in Blood Money that's set outside of America, at an opera rehearsal in Paris. Before the level began we were quickly filled in on the game's story outline; Agent 47's employers, the International Contract Agency (or ICA) are under attack from an unseen source consistently picking off their operatives. With this in mind, Agent 47's tale in Blood Money looks set to encompass the taking of several contracts, with the ulterior motive of discovering the motivations behind the ICA's deadly rivals.
In France, this meant eliminating two targets during the rehearsal - one watching the show, and one in the show itself. Ultimately, there seemed to be one definitive best way to most efficiently tackle the objectives here, which is what we were demonstrated.
Knock out the in-opera assassin, dress in his outfit, and kill the first target whilst in character.
After picking up a firearm at the nearby cloakroom that had been left for the hitman in a dinner jacket and acquiring the uniform of a backstage hand by less-than-friendly means, Agent 47 proceeded to plant a bomb in the above-stage scaffolding, directly on a large chandelier. Following this, he sneaked into a dressing room and switched a replica gun designed to be used in the Opera's assassination scene for the live weapon he'd earlier received, and retreated to the opera's main area to watch the fireworks unfold. The first target, the victim of the Opera's fictitious death scene, was rendered a distinctly more permanent sleep by the real weapon. And when his lover - the second of the intended targets - made the rush to his side, he (yes, he) ran directly under the chandelier, which Agent 47 blew up at the opportune moment.
This, we were told, was just one way to approach the level. Another method may involve waiting backstage for the first target to deal with them one-on-one, then sneaking into the guarded room housing the second. In another approach you could choose to snipe from the rafters - or even knock out the in-opera assassin, dress in his outfit, and kill the first target whilst in character, before putting a bullet in the second in the ensuing confusion. Each approach has its merits and its drawbacks, with the true genius of the design being that the game will never leave you with an impossible choice to make, despite the characters and events happening in real time.
What's going to make the choice of approach important is the new Notoriety rating. Getting spotted doing not-so-legal things by peripheral characters, or going gung-ho in a room full of people, is going to get your actions noticed - and in this Hitman, that will affect how non-player characters treat you throughout the rest of the adventure. The Notoriety rating will be an ongoing factor throughout the game's 12 chapters, displayed in post-mission newspaper reports that detail your actions in a past-tense narrative, and ultimately should encourage people to replay levels and earn the best possible rank to take through to following chapters.
The second level we were shown involved taking out three targets, with our demo running us through the killing of the first. Before this began, however, we were introduced to Kruger Schmidt; the game's weapon, item and customisation shop, taking in the vast options for a host of player-created firewpower, as well as health-giving painkillers, a lockpick, an extended distance mod for the bomb remote… you get the idea.
Taking custom guns into a level can be a massive help - but, as we saw in the second level, leaving a specialised one-of-a-kind weapon can also hinder your notoriety rating.
Agent 47 came across a guy standing at a balcony - and duly elected to push him over, just for the hell of it.
Set in a Vegas casino, Agent 47 used the map screen to track life signs in the bustling building, before selecting the most remote of his targets to deal with first. Watching the shiny-headed killer sneak past casino staff, sidle along walls and avoiding security cameras at all costs, we queried the potential difficulty at being discovered, and quickly over ran. We were told not to expect any problems in this sense, as - like the game's mission objectives themselves - the action is massively open ended. Caught on tape? Track down the building's CCTV room and go to town on it. Discovered committing murder? Make it a double homicide with the witness as the second victim and you don't have a problem. And, as far as notoriety goes, you can even buy you a new identity with the help of the ICA - though it's not going to do your bank balance any favours.
Seeing the target taken out gave us further insight into just how much consideration is being put into Blood Money - and how many nice little touches it offers. On the way to his destination on the eighth floor, for instance, Agent 47 came across a guy standing at a balcony - and duly elected to push him over, just for the hell of it: a sadistic, guilty pleasure that we couldn't help but chuckle at.
Up on the roof
Finally making it to the roof, we saw Agent 47 await his prey in the one place we were told his target would be going - the highest point of building, the single part from where the soon-to-be victim could make a phone call, due to the casino's signal scrambling technology. Sniper in hand, we watched as our man got his guy - only to be flooded at by a group of security guards, which duly allowing us an example of the hitman's new hand to hand combat skills. In Blood money, it seems, you are finally able to disarm enemy guards and turn their weapons on their counterparts: a welcome addition indeed to the previously limited combat controls.
And that about brought our demo to an end - though we left buoyed by what we'd seen. Employing 24-style splitscreen moments and a score once again composed by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, Blood Money is a compelling cinematic experience with some ingenious open-ended design. With 12 levels, set to last on average an hour and a half each, and a promised online high score system, there's more gone into this than all previous Hitman titles - which is truly no small plaudit. If a slightly jerky camera and the occasional spot of graphical glitching can be fixed, then the man with a number for a name could well find his game doing deservedly big figures come Blood Money's post-Easter release date.
Preview by: Mark Scott
Preview Published: 02.03.06
He made the call, the blood is on Iain's hands.
I can't decide what is more delicious. Dressing up as a bright red crow, and then dropping a piano on two unsuspecting but very deserving victims. Or dressing up as Santa Claus and casually pushing people over balconies to plummetty deaths. They're both macabre, cynical methods of execution and neither of them could be traced back to me due to the accidental nature, but on further reflection I think the bird costume just about pips it on sheer...ACMEness of the whole situation (MEEP MEEP!)
These rather irreverent scenarios are but two of a myriad of methods of dispatch available to the imaginative player in this, the fourth in the acclaimed Hitman series as you’re once again thrust into the sharp Italian suit and minimalist approach to hair styling of Agent 47 as he plans and executes a series of perfect murders, all over the world.
Once again thrust into the sharp Italian suit and minimalist approach to hair styling of Agent 47.
The major draw to Hitman in the past has come from the multitude of options available to the player. If you wanted to snipe, you could snipe. If you wanted to strangle, you could strangle. If you wanted to drive a metal bolt into the neck of a slaughterhouse worker severing the spinal cord instantly, hide the body out of sight, dress up as aforementioned slaughterhouse guard in order to tear out the jugular of your intended mark with a steel meat hook, you…well, you could.
This approach to game design has most certainly been taken even more to heart here, with each mission having several pre-defined set pieces that you can choose whether or not to take advantage of. In addition to this, there’s a whole host of opportunities for further misbehavior, although obviously all of your actions have some consequence on the mission, so you’re encouraged to think about what you’re doing. What is slightly less obvious, and indeed a new addition to the franchise, is the idea that your actions can not only have consequences within your current mission, but also in future assignments. For example, you’re walking around a quiet leafy suburb, swarming with residents and FBI agents. Dressed in your designer suit, you attempt to walk around the back of a house, but you’re spotted by the person that lives there. There is now a witness to your suspicious activity, who can give the authorities a pretty decent description of what you look like. This is bad, and will raise your “Notoriety Rating” above the preferred level of “0”. The higher your notoriety the more likely you are to be recognised, challenged and shot at in later missions. It will also effect the amount of money you earn from the hit, effecting the upgrades you can afford to buy for your weapons.
Thankfully, there are certain measures you can take to lower your notoriety if you do get noticed. For example, you could kill everyone. If there’s no-one alive to give the police a description, they aren’t going to get one. However, there are drawbacks associated with that method. The sheer amount of evidence, for one. No, the much safer option is to pay people off.
There’s also CCTV cameras to look out for now, which will record evidence of your presence if left to their own thing. Again, there are ways to curtail their efforts. Stealing the video tape works best, but if that isn’t a viable option you can always just shoot the cameras themselves.
As a gameplay mechanic this works extremely well, with you being shown a newspaper story describing your hit on completion. It details the number of deaths, the number of witnesses, and most importantly of all, whatever description of 47 the authorities were able to glean from those witnesses. The missions themselves are nicely varied, and while predominantly set in the US, take 47 all over the globe. There is at least one “mark” to taken out in each level, with the occasional objective of protecting someone from rival assassins. The range of objectives gives a good break from the standard “go here, kill him…repeat to fade” gameplay that occasionally set in during some missions of the earlier games. And the levels themselves are absolutely stunning.
Io Interactive have done a fantastic job on the game engine, scrapping the Glacier engine which did such a good job in the previous two titles and building something that really takes advantage of the “next-gen” hardware (on both PC and Xbox 360 at least, the PS2 version is scaled down somewhat but still looks great.) The detail on the characters is superb, and 47 himself is incredibly well modeled, managing to avoid the Vaseline-shine effect that has blighted so many games of recent years. There is a level of repetition of the character models when you enter densely populated areas (of which there are quite a few, gladly) but as Io have introduced a fantastic crowd rendering system which allows for massive crowds, much bigger than any I’ve seen before in a similar title, this is somewhat excusable. Characters are sublimely animated as well, reacting believably to their surroundings, although the Comedy Ragdoll still rears its ugly head occasionally when you kill someone, however on the whole even these manage to remain believable most of the time. One especially nice touch is the way that 47 will hide a weapon behind his back when approaching another person, revealing it at the last moment to give the target no chance to react. This is an automatic reaction which requires no key presses from the user, and this simple act really impresses. There’s something undeniably cool about the way you can walk calmly into a room, put one .45 ACP round into the skull of your mark with a silenced baller and then leave, just as calmly as you arrived. It’s one of those things that you never realized you needed, but would really miss if it were taken away now.
While the levels themselves never reach the heady heights of sprawling as say, Far Cry, they are always large enough so that you never feel confined by your surroundings (unless of course, you’re supposed to). As mentioned above, they are always designed with multiple routes in mind, and they succeed at this beautifully, with each level having a number of points at which the player can arrange accidents. Is your target leaning over a balcony, peacefully taking in the beautiful vista? Give him a shove and make sure the last thing he sees is the floor. And there’s nothing like the feeling of detonating an explosive device that you planted earlier in the mission, bringing a chandelier crashing down on top of your victim as he enjoys a surreptitious drink. The number of options open to the player is incredible, and really warrants replaying the game through a couple of times after completion.
You could kill everyone. If there’s no-one alive to give the police a description, they aren’t going to get one.
And you will want to replay it, because there’s simply too much to take in during one session. Swap the prop pistol for the real one and you’ll miss the opportunity to snipe the target from the rafters as the music reaches a crescendo. Gain entrance to a mafioso’s house dressed as a clown and you’ll more than likely miss the FBI agent indulging his fantasies in the bedroom. There are just so many little touches in here that really help to make the game world feel believable and immersive.
However I can’t help but feel that we could have done without a few of the minor details in favour of a decent save game system. The basic Hitman save system is still in place, with you being given limited saves to use during missions, but this time they don’t carry over if you exit the game. This means that you effectively have to leave the game running if you want to have a break and come back to where you were in the mission. This is fine for the earlier missions, which in essence are quite simple and can be played through in about 20/30 minutes a piece first time round but for the later, more complex missions it is really rather frustrating (not to mention if, like me, your PC isn’t the most stable gaming platform in the world and you rely on save games for when the inevitable happens.)
There are a couple of other minor gripes as well, but in comparison to the frustrating save system they seem quite petty. For example, it mentions in the newspaper reports if you shoot someone that shells were found at the scene, but no shells can be seen ejecting from your weapon and you’re not given the option to clean up the scene. Granted, picking up every shell after a large scale gunfight would be unnecessarily laborious, but picking up one shell after a successful hit on a target would have been simple to implement and it seems like a silly omission given all the trouble they have evidently gone to in the detail stakes. But as I say, this is just a minor, petty issue with what is otherwise a superbly well made, polished and enjoyable game.
This is without doubt the best Hitman game to date, and a more than worthy entrant into the franchise. But now, there’s a man in Cuba who hasn’t been behaving himself, so I’m off to pay him a visit. Don’t cry for him though, he’s already dead.
- Stunning environments and character models.
- Compelling story which drives the missions along.
- Excellent soundtrack from Jesper Kyd.
- Frustrating save game system.
- Over-reliance on trial and error to achieve the perfect hit.
- Minor omissions which seem silly given overall detail level.
Hitman 5 revealed by accident?
Rumour time! Are you a fan of the brilliant stalk-'em-up Hitman series? Of course you are. Well you'll be glad to hear that the voice actor who plays the mysterious Agent 47 has confirmed the existence of the long-awaited Hitman 5 in an interview.
Speaking to The Gaming Liberty - thank you for the tip, Eurogamer - David Bateson said, "I have been overwhelmingly gratified and humbled by the sheer dedication to the Hitman franchise that the fans have expressed." So far, so actor. But check out what he says next: "For all the kind things that have been said, I am truly thankful. That kind of dedication and appreciation of the game deserves repayment... with an even more gob smacking instalment in Hitman 5. I don't envy IO Interactive for the pressure they must be under to deliver. I am utterly convinced they will!"
Um, the only problem is, the Hitman developer IO Interactive, isn't willing to confirm the game actually exists yet.
So is there another Hitman game on the way? It seems increasingly likely. IO just finished work on Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, which is available now for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360, and a return to the studio's most famous franchise seems likely. For the time being, though, we'll just have to keep our eyes open, and our ears to the ground. You know, like Agent 47.
Fans of the Hitman series will be able to experience a new story starring Agent 47 in a forthcoming tie-in novel from Del Rey.
The publisher has teamed up with Io Interactive to produce Hitman: Damnation, a new novel from author Raymond Benson that links in to the story of the forthcoming videogame Hitman: Absolution.
Launching in summer 2012, the book follows the iconic bald-headed assassin as he embarks on a mission to take out a series of high-level political figures in the US, unravelling a sinister conspiracy in the process.
The story bridges the gap between Absolution and its predecessor Hitman: Blood Money, making it a must-read for enthusiasts of the multimillion-selling series.
The game utilises Glacier 2 graphics technology to deliver spectacular visuals and genuine cinematic flair, meaning it promises to be one of the most absorbing Hitman adventures to date.
2012 sees the return of four iconic heroes to our screens - Master Chief in Halo 4, Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, Agent 47 in Hitman: Absolution, and Max Payne in, er, Max Payne 3. But why is this exciting? Read on...
Why this excites us: The man who really puts the "Homicide" into "Homicide Detective", Max has been missing in action for nearly a decade (unless you count the Mark Wahlberg movie. We don't). The series was famed for its film noir elements and its use of bullet time action, and for Max's own increasing inner darkness.
When he returns in Max Payne 3 he's still just as miserable; the years have not been good to Max, who's now working private security for a less than scrutable employer in South America. Needless to say, a certain substance soon hits the fan and Max finds himself smack in the middle of criminal wars, teaching them all a lesson in his own brand of angry justice. And we couldn't be happier.
Why this excites us: Gaming's best-dressed killer has always been cool, calm and genetically superior, and this year he's back to remind everyone just how this assassin thing is done. He's famed for his increasingly ingenious methods of eliminating his targets, from poisoning punch, to pushing off balconies, to sneaking about in disguise, to plain old shooting, with a real emphasis on tactics, planning and skill.
Betrayed by the agency who built him, and those he's gone on to trust, Hitman: Absolution sees 47 on the run once more and at the heart of a dark conspiracy, and on a journey that's more personal than professional. The developers are promising big technological advancements to enhance your instincts and abilities - and those around you, too. Just remember, it's not just about killing, but killing outside the box!
Why this excites us: The UNSC may not like him, but we sure do. It didn't matter that he didn't really get a personality until Halo 3, this intergalactic badass has been doing his job and saving the Earth from alien conquests (with no showboating or stopping for, ahem, conquests of his own) since the launch of the Xbox. The responses to Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach showed that it was really the Chief that we wanted to see, and Cortana's cry of "I need you! Wake up John! Chief!" in the Halo 4 trailer echoed the sentiment of Halo gamers the world over.
Halo 4 promises to delve further into who Chief is and what makes him tick, as well as his relationship with Cortana. Getting to know the Chief a little better can only further our relationship with him, especially as his new armour seems to only further his relationship with badassery. November can't come soon enough.
Why this excites us: Lara Croft is one of THE icons of modern gaming. She arrived in time to launch the original PlayStation and drew mainstream press to gaming like none before her. Since 1996 she's raided many a tomb, fought tigers, sharks and dinosaurs, and survived more than one reboot - as well as more than one subpar movie. But now she's back, younger than ever in a Batman Begins-style reboot (minus, we hope, the gravelly voice).
In this year's new Tomb Raider Lara is 21, fresh out of "the academy" and shipwrecked on an island. This game promises not only a back-to-basics setting but more challenging gameplay than recent outings, with the stress on exploration to survive over exploration for kicks. A reboot like this is a little risky - and we'll miss Keeley Hawes' voice acting - but Lara has certainly proved she can endure pretty much anything.
Hitman: Blood Money Preview (02/03/2006)
Mark goes dark with gaming's stealthiest slaphead...
Anyone who's followed Hitman games over the years will have an idea of wha…Hitman: Blood Money (25/05/2006)
He made the call, the blood is on Iain's hands.
I can't decide what is more delicious. Dressing up as…
Rumour time! Are you a fan of the brilliant stalk-'em-up Hitman series? Of course you are.…Hitman: Absolution to receive tie-in … (25/01/2012)
Fans of the Hitman series will be able to experience a new story starring Agent 47 in a forthcoming tie-in novel from Del Rey.…
2012 sees the return of four iconic heroes to our screens - Master Chief in Halo 4, Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, Agent 47 in Hitman: Absolution, and Max Payne in, er, Max Payne 3. But why is this exciti…Hitman: Blood Money User ReviewsTop review
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