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New blood keeps the Hitman series fresh!
on 15 June 2006
With 'Blood Money', the creators of the successful Hitman series made some significant changes to the gameplay in an attempt to stop it from getting stale. However, many would argue that 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. So have they pulled it off?
My first impression from the introductory level was that most of the gameplay changes centre around combat. This initially felt like a step in the wrong direction, as Hitman is all about achieving Silent Assassin by killing no-one but the target without attracting attention. In some respects, Agent 47 is transformed into Sam Fischer, as if the worst happens, he can now use other characters as human shields, shimmy across ledges, hide on top of lifts & fibre wire people underneath & wrestle weapons off guards. While some of these are debateably against the character of the game, they also make it more well-rounded - it is logical to assume Agent 47 could hold his own in close combat. There are some very useful new touches as well, such as being able to inject your sedative into food & drink. Remote bombs & poison are now also part of 47's standard kit, rather than having to be found in the game. Oh yes - and in some of the missions, on of the 'innocent bystanders' is an assassin who is targetting YOU!
The gameplay can be affected if you were spotted in previous missions or caught on a security camera & so on. This aspect is very well done. If you are caught on CCTV, you will need to steal the camera footage during the mission & if your face becomes too well known, you'll need to spend your blood money on bribing policemen instead of upgrading your kit. If you adopt a disguise & leave your suit behind, you even have to buy a new one! This is a nice new aspect with rooom to expand on in future chapters.
One of the most curious changes is that, despite the gravitas of its title, 'Hitman: Blood Money' replaces the darkness which characterised 'Contracts' with a more slapstick approach. Instead of fetish parties in abatoirs & human hunts, Agent 47 can disguise himself as a clown, Big Bird & Santa. One target in the Mardi Gras level, who looks a lot like Road Runner in their carnival costume, can be taken out by having a piano dropped on them. Why someone in New Orleans left a grand piano suspended by a cable in midair is anyones' guess but hey, whatever gets the job done. Interestingly, this doesn't detract from the gameplay. Instead, it give Blood Money its own unique character within the Hitman series, giving it quite a fresh feel for the 4th outing of this series. The onjgoing story - told through animated sequences between missions - is also very intruiging & adds an extra dimension, as the wider implications of cloned assassins running amok in the world are considered.
As a huge fan of the Hitman series, I was initially unsure of some of the changes but now I'm most of the way through the game, I'm loving it. Not so much 'more of the same' but 'more of what I loved' - plus some nice new twists.