Hitman: Blood Money

Hitman: Blood Money
Hitman: Blood Money Cover
Platforms Xbox 360, Xbox, PS2, Windows
Genre Deadly, Bloody Fun
Score 8  Clock score of 8Gameplay: 9
Fun Factor: 8
Gfx/Sound: 8
Story: 8
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Hitman: Blood Money is a stealth action game for the Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Windows. It's the fourth game in the Hitman series and the last to come out. I will admit, I was influenced in playing this game after seeing the movie. I think that is probably the first time a film adaptation has done that, pretty special considering that's one of their main reasons for existence. I had never played a Hitman game before, and I will admit, I really enjoyed it. It's almost a sandbox game considering everything you can do, and no two gamers will play it the same way. What's nice about Blood Money is that someone without any experience with the series can come in and enjoy it. So maybe this review will convince you to check out the game like the movie did for me.

I wrote up a first hour review of the game a few weeks ago, check it out if you're interested.

What I loved: The levels. Hitman: Blood Money joins the ranks of many great games that feature their environments as the main star. The game starts off in a decrepit theme park, travels to a ferry on the Mississippi River, parties in Las Vegas, and even finishes his final mission in the White House. The levels are expertly designed, full of life, and allow for many ways to pull off the contract kills. One of the game's most memorable levels takes place on the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Hundreds of people wander the street, the sheer number of characters is amazing. I haven't seen anything like it except for Dead Rising. There's also the Christmas party at "Hugh Hefner's" mansion with plenty of bouncy distractions to get in the way of your real mission.

Each mission is very different from the one before it, you're always presented with a set of new targets, available weapons and costumes, and of course, a new environment to tackle. You have the whole map available to look at from the get-go, but it's definitely fun just to explore and see where you can actually safely travel in your Agent 47 costume. My favorite part of any level was successfully knocking out someone with a "super costume" that would essentially allow you to go anywhere you wanted. At this point, you have complete freedom to roam and the only thing that stands between you and your targets is your own creativity.

Creativity is important in a Hitman game, sure you could just shoot the target, but you'd probably have to hightail it out of the level while being chased by a bunch of guards. In Blood Money, you can poison the food or drink of your target and just watch them die from afar. Or set up a strategic bomb and drop a chandelier on them. Or simply push them off their balcony while they stare out into the sea. Each assassination provides you with new and fun opportunities to smile.

Hitman Blood Money Mardi Gras

What I liked: Agent 47 is sent in to assassinate witnesses, playboys, and even politicians. Quite a bit about Hitman reminded me of Assassin's Creed, but without all the obnoxious cutscenes where your target begs for their life (and all the running around between towns, and crappy side quests, etc.). While the game involves quite a bit of trial and error, it's definitely rewarding in the end, and there are a lot of unexpected side effects too. One time, I had killed my target but still needed to find a microchip. I had no idea where it was so I was just jogging around the level looking for things to interact with. I found an outdoor cooking grill, and had the opportunity to spray some highly flammilble gas on it. I said, "why not?" and while walking away, the whole thing went BOOM! Turns out the wife of my target had started the grill and blew herself up. She started running around on fire and jumping into the nearby pool, but it was too late. Dead. I waded into the pool and... AH HA! She was wearing the microchip as a necklace. Not bad!

Another really cool thing about Blood Money is the notoriety system. It seems this is new to the game, and it basically serves as a bridge from level to level. If you're caught on camera, or witnesses see you commit a murder, or you leave your agent suit behind, your notoriety will rise. This is a number out of one hundred, and if it gets too high, people will start seeing you on site in later levels. This is a bad thing as it's harder to commit your assassinations then. You can always spend a little cash at the end of each level and "pay off" your notoriety, which is a bit disappointing, but there's a neat addition to it too. At the end of each level, you'll also get to read the next morning's newspaper of the town where your mission was it. It's just the front page, but you'll get to read all about the people you killed and some of their skeletons in their closet. There's also a variety of additional short articles available, some funny, some actually related to previous missions giving you a bit more information.

I also enjoyed Hitman's story, it's told as a story within a story, while nothing new, helps to explain some of backstory too. Essentially this old guy is bragging to a young reporter how he managed to kill Agent 47, the notorious assassin who actually pulled off a huge string of high profile murders over the past few years. Between each level there's a bit more explanation about how our anti-hero was involved in all these cases and that his own company came closer and closer to him, and finally capturing him. The game wraps up beautifully too, with a final level that must be played to believe.

Along with the cutscenes and newspaper, we also get to learn about the world's politics through various means. There's a major sidestory going on about the presidential elections of 2004 and the accidental (?) death of the vice-president and his eventual replacement. You learn about this in the paper and by listening to radios and televisions throughout the game. And of course, it all leads back to the White House at the end...

Hitman Blood Money Agent 47 Santa

What I didn't like: Being a stealth game, Hitman features the genre's seemingly required level of frustration. It's definitely not at Metal Gear Solid levels, but sometimes things are just baffling. Hitman: Blood Money's major stealth element comes from changing outfits to blend in. It's often very unclear where exactly you can go in your new outfit, however. Guards may put their hand up to stop you giving you a hint, but there will be plenty of times where your only warning is you getting shot at. The guards also take some interesting leaps of logic, one time there was some chaos going on in the level from a bomb going off, and while there was no indication that I triggered the bomb, I was suddenly getting shot at!

Along with this "super" A.I., sometimes it was just plain stupid. In the second level, you have to kill a father and son. Really early on in the level I managed to kill the son, and his body was found pretty quickly. Now, you think that this location would go down into super lockdown mode and there would be no way I would even get close to the father, but nope. Life goes on like nothing happened. Sure, I lose some potential cash by not hiding the body properly enough, but I really wanted more. I know it would have made the mission a lot more difficult, but lock the place down! Make me infiltrate the dad's elite ranks of guards to get close enough to him. The game has a lot of unused potential.


Gameplay: 9
Great non-linear gameplay, great variety of weapons and tools avaiable, and excellent controls that make some potentially complicated maneuvers pretty easy to pull off.

Fun Factor: 8
I loved the variety in levels and assassinations, makes a similar game like Assassin's Creed seem even more boring than what I remember. Some frustrating moments though and plenty of trial and error involved.

Graphics and Sound: 8
Pretty good looking graphics for being released in 2006 on the Xbox 360. There are some levels with a huge amount of characters on screen that you can push through, I was really impressed. The music is okay, the main Ave Maria theme sounds great when booting the game up. The voice actors aren't anything special except for your female contact in the agency, she's got a definite sexy voice.

Story: 8
The story is told through cutscenes, newspapers, and in random banter throughout the levels. The writers really reward the persistent gamer who wants to know more. But it's still all about killing your next target, essentially. I would have liked to know a bit more about who I'm killing and who contracted it.

Overall: 8
Hitman: Blood Money really surprised me, it's a really fun game that doesn't let complicated controls or obnoxious exposition get in the way of good, clean stealth killing. Walking out of a level after taking our your targets and having no witnesses is a really great feeling. I wholeheartedly recommend this game.

Hitman Blood Money Agent 47 Funeral