Author Topic: [Video Game] Hitman: Blood Money (PC)  (Read 917 times)

00XJ

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[Video Game] Hitman: Blood Money (PC)
« on: February 28, 2013, 10:28:58 PM »
Since Hitman: Absolution was probably the biggest gaming let down I've ever experienced, I was compelled to play through the entirety of the most beloved Hitman game - Hitman: Blood Money - once more, if only to refresh my memory of the heights the series had once soared to.

Let's be clear, however, that Blood Money isn't without it's flaws.

First of all, the ragdolls are still the same as they were in the very first Hitman game. Hitman: Codename 47 was one of the first games to use ragdoll physics, so you'd think that each new game in the series would evolve that technology a bit. Not so. Sometimes it's fairly convincing, but most of the time you can't help but notice that a dead NPC seems to have absolutely no neck at all - their head is solidly bound to their torso, and their limbs flail wildly as if they've no weight at all.

Also, the AI is not great. NPCs are bound to some pretty strict routines, and only occasionally does the game decide to randomize a guards patrol pattern, or perhaps throw in a random super-suspicious civilian who sees through your bullshit and runs to tattle on you. Aside from those very rare instances, once you've studied the behaviors of the NPCs in the game, it's simply a matter of jumping into the locomotion at the right time and staying on schedule to remain undetected.

But that's the fun of it, really.

If you're the type that's able to suspend disbelief and just accept the game world for what it is, the ENTIRE fun of a Hitman game is learning the rules of the world, and manipulating them to accomplish your tasks. This is something that Absolution absolutely failed at, since it opted for a more linear mission structure with only slight variations on objective completion.

For example, a mid-game mission has you tasked with eliminating a river-boat's captain, and optionally eliminating his entire gang of redneck douche bags as well, while ON the river boat as it makes it way down the Mississippi river.

It is entirely possible to complete this mission in your original suit, using no disguises at all, if you're fast and precise. I once tested this theory and even though I had to rely on the save function, I still found it immensely satisfying to slip through the holes in the security guards' routine, knock out a drunk passenger, hide his body and steal his VIP pass, casually stroll into the VIP area, shove a waiter over the boat's railing and into the water below, then engage the Gator Gang with my silenced, scoped pistol, systematically eliminating each one of them before they realized what was happened, and finally making my way to the boat's captain and strangling him to death with my fiber wire. From there I was able to retrace my steps and make it to the exit point without anyone realizing anything was amiss.

The next time I played that same mission, I disguised myself as a first-class purser, and carefully stalked each target. I waited until the coast was clear, and either shoved them over the railing and into the gator-infested water, or strangled them and dumped their body over the railing when possible.

When it came time to eliminate the boat's captain, I simple collected a plate of tasty pastries and injected some poison into them, then non-nonchalantly waltzed into his cabin and left the plate on his desk. He did the rest. To ensure nobody discovered his body before I had time to put my suit back on and escape, I knocked out his gay-lover who was showering in the next room, and laid waste to his entire Gator Gang on my way back, timing each kill so that nobody else was alerted to my presence.

The beauty of Hitman: Blood Money is that established the game world's rules right up front, demonstrates your range of skills and tool, then lets you loose to figure everything else out on your own.

The degree of success to which you complete each mission is it's own reward - knowing that you were able to eliminate 4 targets and made each death appear to be accidental (just so happens that someone suffocated from dropping a dumbbell on their throat, another drowned in a hot tub and yet another fell down the stairs all on the same day within the same hour) and leave the scene without anyone having ever been suspicious of you is so satisfying, it's almost like solving a puzzle.

Absolution opted to remove that element entirely. While from a technical standpoint, Absolution is a far more impressive game, Blood Money absolutely kicks its ass when it comes to game play, even if the AI is terrible.

Possibly my favorite moment in Blood Money happened just recently - I was sent to eliminate a rogue CIA Agent, his mistress, and two other unidentified targets whom I'd discover once on scene.

I mentioned before that there is a clockwork element to missions in Blood Money... well, I was thrown off schedule by an unintended button-press, and since I was playing on the hardest difficulty, there were no save files to go back to, so i just ran with it.

I ended up running into the basement "Hell" party first, hiding behind boxes to slip past guard patrols, and eliminating them when possible. I was able to kill one target, Vana Ketlyn, by tampering with the pyrotechnic controls and setting her on fire during her big show. All of the guests at the party through it was part of the spectacle, not realizing that they'd just witnessed someone being burnt to death, then falling into the shark tank and being eaten by the shark.

So i ran back up the stairs and sneaked into the elevator maintenance access (after peacefully subduing a police officer and hiding his body in a dumpster), and lo and behold, the rogue CIA agent had just called for the elevator I was crouching on top of. So, I rode the thing up to the top floor, and once he was in and the doors closed, I reached down through the access panel and strangled him with my fiber wire, then hid his body on top of the elevator. Of COURSE I took his costume, a golden suit with a crazy devil mask... and returned to the Heaven party on the top floor.

Once there, I got on a computer in an office and discovered the identity of the other two targets - one of which was heading right for the room I was in, so i hid in the closet and once she was in the room and looking the other direction, I jumped out and strangled her to death.

I headed back to the basement Hell party for the last target, apparently a rival assassin who opted to challenge me to a duel rather than kill me outright. So we went into a back room and he ran off, then began shooting at me. Instead of letting the lead fly, I simply waited for him to pop his head out at the wrong time and fired a well-placed round from my silenced, scoped silver-baller right into his ugly face.

Then i marched back to my escape point, and nobody else at either of the parties knew anything was wrong.

This all sounds planned, but I executed this mission totally on the fly. And it was fucking awesome.

What else can I say? Graphics are decent, sound is decent... but none of that matters as much as the game play, which is sublime if you appreciate emergent game play.

Blood Money doesn't stray too far from the 3 games before it, yet it refines all of the best qualities of each of those games, adds a few more finishing touches, and becomes the best Hitman game there ever was.

Just do yourself a favor and skip Absolution.

9/10
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 10:31:28 PM by 00XJ »