Like a deer in headlights (why you should play Hitman: Blood Money)

Hitman: Blood Money [Source: wikipedia.org]It had all gone wrong.  After making my way through the cruise ship incognito, taking out my targets in silence in the process, I had finally reached the top deck where the remaining members of the Gator Gang, and their leader, were awaiting their execution.  Disguised as a waiter, I had made my way to the Captain’s quarters carrying a cake and placed it on the table and waited.  Shortly thereafter a blood bath ensued.  Caught strangling the Captain as he ate the cake-bait, I fired upon his entourage.  One by one they went down until four bodies were on the floor.  I had to cover my tracks, and one by one I dragged the dead bodies of three of the men to the rear of the boat and threw them overboard.  The end was in sight, but while dragging the body of the fourth and last man, an unsuspecting witness carrying refreshments emerged from the stairs.  I froze.  There was no darkness to run to, or flash bang to blind the man.  Like a deer in headlights I was faced with a choice – run and leave a witness, or end an innocent man’s life.

I dropped the body of my target, raised my gun and shot the man dead and threw his body into the river too.

Believe me when I say that wasn’t how it was supposed to happen.

Hitman:Blood Money is about amazing moments like these.  When things go right you feel like a god, able to take out any target no matter the level of security and walk away without witnesses and no trace of your kill.  There are no fancy gadgets to aid you, or darkness to hide in. But when things go wrong its about split second decisions to save your life, or the mission.  Because unlike the obvious comparisons in Sam Fisher or Solid Snake, if Agent 47 makes even the smallest mistake, it will likely be the last mistake he makes.  At least that is until you reload from your last save.

For a game that is ultimately about killing people, Hitman: Blood Money, like it’s predecessors has precious little killing in it.  Sure there is the occasional collateral damage, but that is a last resort rather than a premeditated plan.  Even incapacitation isn’t a viable way to make your life easy – unlike other stealth games where incapacitation essentially equates to death providing you are prudent in covering your tracks – with the game placing an effective restriction on the number of people you can stealthily incapacitate with sedative.  It is design decisions like this that make Hitman feel incredibly deliberate in its design, which in conjunction with the intel that can be purchased with Blood Money , are how the developers try and push the player toward a style of play that shows off the sheer creativity of the game’s level design.  And that’s when Hitman: Blood Money is at its best.

And because of all of these very deliberate decisions, Hitman: Blood Money feels like a simulation with an action game wrapping.  The gameplay is no-frills utilitarian video game design, which makes it unforgiving.  But it also encourages you to experiment, know the game’s rules, and solve the intricate assassination puzzles the developers have carefully laid out for you  Sure, you could play and finish the game by killing everything in sight. But you’d be missing out on what makes Hitman: Blood Money so spectacular.

Hitman: Blood Money [Source: mobygames.com]

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9 Comments

  1. I really do like stealth games like this. Unfortunately, I don’t own this game and have only seen a few friends of mine playing it but everyone has said that it’s been great fun. If you whack up the difficulty mode, it becomes even more challenging and entertaining. Nice review though =)

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    1. Thanks! And I have always played Hitman on the higher difficulty levels to get that experience I describe. I find the more restrictions the better, because it forces you to play honestly and actually think before acting.

      You should definitely track down a copy and play it. It’s onto Absolution for me now.

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      1. I totally agree. With stealth games, the more “realistic” the experience (ie. if you make a mistake, you die), then it definitely makes for a more enjoyable play through. If you haven’t played Dishonoured yet, you should give that a go!

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  2. My mistakes usually happened in bathrooms.
    Because obviously when I’m trying to hide a body in a toilet stall, someone needs to take a whiz. Control your bladder better, imaginary people, and you’ll live longer! This is a simple concept!

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    1. Who would’ve thought you could fit so many bodies in one stall. Perhaps that could be a mini game in the next Hitman game, a falling brick game ‘Hitman Toiletris’.

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    1. I would absolutely recommend the Hitman Trilogy (now available for PS3 and Xbox 360). The same core gameplay has remained throughout and Contracts also had some amazing moments. Perhaps start there!

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  3. Great post :). I’ve never been big on stealth games. I usually hide for a bit, get really impatient and then decide to kill everyone. Hitman however, makes all the sneaking around an interesting process even for someone as impatient as I am. Sneaking around becomes more than just a means to an end and is something you can actually think about creatively. Of course as you mentioned, there are also the moments you have no choice but to think on the fly and those are fun too!

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    1. I think it is mainly because as long as you’re disguised (and understand the limits of that disguise) you have the time to actually think about your next move and experiment. The intel system, buying vague information that point to some of the interesting solutions, also helps get you out of that direct confrontation mindset and into one where you’re actively looking to not arouse any suspiscion at all. That is what makes the Hitman series special – the whole hiding in plain sight thing is incredibly exhilirating.

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