Hello noble readers! I apologise for my recent absence, but due to finishing university and moving house I’ve been unable to post lately. But I’m hoping to lay down a withering barrage of posts in the next few days.
First off, Hitman: Blood Money, a game that was recommended to me by our compatriot Ludo, however I finished it first, due to being significantly more unemployed than he is, so I get to blog about it first. Ha!
I’d never played a Hitman game before, although I understood the basic principle. It’s hard not to, when a game is called Hitman: Blood Money it’s pretty hard to take the wrong way. From the off I’m walked through a simple tutorial level, which wins atmosphere points for being set in a deserted funfair, but loses them for being incredibly linear which (in retrospect) isn’t exactly representative of the game. And from the off it’s clear that this doesn’t play much like other stealth games, Agent 47 doesn’t skulk in the shadows like Solid Snake or Garret, well you can, but it’s much easier to take the direct route of syringing some poor sap in the neck and stealing his clothes, allowing you to happily walk around in front of the guards without them giving you a second glance.
It gets better, you can carry any item the person whose clothes you stole would naturally carry, cooks can wield kitchen knifes, workers hammers, toolboxes (in which guns can be hidden) screwdrivers, and even nailguns, mwahahaha! The first time you sucessfully steal a guard’s clothes and wander around with a shotgun openly is a wonderful experience. Hiding in plain site like this enables you to subtly shadow your targets, patiently waiting for a moment when they’re alone and vulnerable to a poison syringe, a length of piano wire… most interestingly move into position for an ‘accident’.
It’s these accidents that make blood money the terrific fun it is, they range from simply shoving a person over a convenient balcony, to elaborate deathtraps including the ability to drop a piano on one unlucky mark, God bless you Warner Brothers for that one. Did I mention you can also poison food and drink? There’s nothing quite like being the other side of the level and getting a little message to tell you your mark has passed away, there’s a real glee to knowing no-one could possibly connect you to the crime.
The levels as well are wonderfully realised, they’re all full of character, intrigue and multiple ways to get to your victim. My favourite being ‘A New Life’ in which you infiltrate the home of a former gangster under witness protection there’s multiple entrances, including one involving a kid’s air rifle, some tranquiliser darts, a pool cleaner’s outfit and an unfaithful wife that brought a smile to even my cynical face. And that’s not even half of it it’s also his daughter’s birthday party, allowing you to knock out and dress up as the clown… and then brutally knife people to death.
And Hitman is brutal, if you want it to be, although most weapons will provide a clean kill some, like the kitchen knife or the hammer, are horrifically bloody. This, combined with the methodical planning that preceeds the killing makes it much more worthy of the title ‘murder simulator’ than anything Jack Thompson and the Daily Mail rant about. During one session I found myself muttering ‘I’d kill you, if I only had somewhere to hide the body’, GTA might be teaching kids to kill, but Hitman is teaching them to kill responsibly.
So, how to summarise, well it’s surprisingly hard to, despite my love for the game, the reason being is that it doesn’t fit into any established genre. It’s billed as a stealth game, but the mechanics are far from what the average Metal Gear, Thief or Splinter Cell player might be expecting, with the emphasis on disguise rather than sneaking, and killing/knocking out as few people as possible. And although you could run in guns blazing it’s certainly not a shooter of any stripe. In fact ‘murder simulator’ is probably the best way to but it, but if you’re interesting in bumping people off in a way to undetectable and efficient it’d make Sam Fisher weep then this is the game for you. And for the rest of you, don’t tell me you weren’t interested in the piano thing.
This is Dante signing off, but hopefully not for long.