Hitman: Blood Money
by The Hutch

From the evil underground laboratory that is IO Interactive comes the next instalment in the critically acclaimed underratedness that is the Hitman series. Only this time, the game takes you into the feet of renegade, cowboy federal agent Styles Rockman whose antics leave a trail of burning civilians and heartbroken women.

Actually, no it doesn't. I don't know why I said that.

47 is back with whatever the emotionally emasculated equivalent of a vengeance is. Substantially beefed up, 47 is one hell of a beefcake. Armed and dangerous 47 is twice the bald badass Patrick Stewart could ever even hope to be. The newest and, in my opinion, best game in the series Blood Money fixed a number of big and little problems with its predecessors, such as:

     - Running, in most situations, is now allowed
     - Hiding bodies has now been made easier with containers scattered throughout levels
     - Handguns can be concealed, even when un-holstered, by simply hiding them from view
     - Being bald is no longer a federal offence
     - Holding your breath is no longer seen as hostile action

What's great about Blood Money is the feeling of isolation. Although Contracts was a much darker game, Blood Money feels much more serious, and you ultimately feel much more like it is you against the world. No friends, no accomplices, no hostages, no Mei Ling, just 47, the target, and his Silverballer hand cannons. Let's get this train wreck headed in a downward spiral.

The graphics in Blood Money have been given an upgrade. Not only smooth, the worlds actually look beautiful. And although muscles and wrinkles on all the models, including 47, have been so overdone it looks like their capillaries are about to burst, they somehow seem to fit the game. And the amount of sexual content in the game just left me sitting in my chair shaking my fist. Blood splatters, realistic lighting effects, falling leaves, people pissing themselves; suffice to say you will cream at least four times a minute while playing this game.

The gameplay has also improved by huge leaps and bounds, fully customizable weapons at 47's disposal and hand to hand combat among the biggest and most appealing changes. 47's arsenal of weapons is no longer limited to guns he procures in mission, but a palette of arms that allow for any style of play the player chooses. An SMG, SP12 Shotgun, WA2000 Sniper Rifle, M4 Assault Rifle, and of course his trusty Silverballer all have fully upgradeable features such as silencers, scopes, different types of ammunition, and dual action and full auto for the ballers. A wider array of hand held weapons that include so much more than fibre wire and a knife, screw drivers, baseball bats, shovels, and just about anything else you could possibly imagine to be used as a weapon can be used to dispose of your target. Close quarters killings are easier as well by the fact that sneaking has been made much faster. Also, things such as leaving behind your suit or custom weapons will not only affect your rating, but the amount of money you receive for a hit which can be spent on upgrading weapons or lowering your notoriety level if you achieved a less than perfect score or if you left behind any witnesses.

Onto the hand to hand combat. Oh god. Oh fuck. I just orgasmed. Twice. Although very simple, it is very effective and you'll find yourself using it more often than guns. Hell, you don't even NEED to bring guns on a mission; guards are more than willing to give them up with a little heavy persuasion. And let me tell you, nothing, NOTHING, is more satisfying than headbutting someone before running behind them and pushing them off a cliff. Once series fanatics play discover the sexual climax that is the headbutt they will throw out all tactics previously employed in the earlier games and knock the fuck out of everyone in the level.

Speaking of which, you'll be happy to know that there are no Japan levels in Blood Money. In fact, of the thirteen missions in the game only two of them are international hits. Before you rejoice, don't. Missions still have a level of difficulty that was apparent in Silent Assassin and seemed to be missing in Contracts. Which isn't to say that they're as difficult AS Hitman 2, just not a cake walk. Many additions such as security cameras and metal detectors add a different layer of difficulty to the game. On that same note, however, much has been added to expand the game. The ability to steal security tapes, hide in closets, turn off the lights, and Xerox 47's ass and tack it to a lamp post add tiers of strategy previously lacking in the other three games.

The musical score is definitely a crowning achievement of Jesper Kyd. While perhaps not as good as Hitman 2, it is pretty damn close to it. And I guarantee you the first time you hear "47 Attacks" when you accidentally shoot an innocent, you'll just throw your strategy out the window and murdalize everyone in the entire level.

The AI in the game has also been made much more realistic. Much more lax and human, the game lets the player get away with much more. Instead of instantly being shot, for example, upon discovery of weapons the player is given the option of handing them over. Discovery of certain recognizable stripped bodies like FBI agents will instantly put guards and policemen alert to your presence. You can even throw coins, yes coins, to distract guards or civilians allowing you to access certain areas without a proper disguise. Fucking coins. Apparently the hired guns aren't paid too well.

Overall the game has a very polished feeling, like this was what the series was meant to be. Although few little issues still remain, most of them have been fixed. For example, in the previous games if you ever got too frustrated all you had to do to calm yourself was to crouch and spin around really fast and watch Agent Scoliosis have the time of his life. Now, if you get too frustrated, all you have to do is headbutt someone and watch them bleed from every cranial orifice while crying for help.

All in all this game is a full five out of five headbutts. I mean socks.

No. Let's stick with headbutts.


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