From The Archives: Why I Love Hitman Blood Money

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An old article I wrote for a now obsolete website as part of a series called Why I Love… in which I wrote about whatever I felt passionately about that week. Seeing as this is both my work and video game related, I thought I’d post it as an apology for being late with my new article for the week, which should be up later tonight. This is from ayear or so ago, so forgive the writing style, which as I read it seems less than stellar.

I try to downplay the geeky side of my life on the internet (god knows why, seeing as the internet is the birthplace for almost everything that is geek), so I haven’t written much about my personal habits as a gamer on this website. Every so often, however, I adjust the valves on my metaphorical pressure gauge and let out a little nerdy steam into the open air of the internet. Ridiculous metaphors aside, I’m going to talk today about one of my favourite games of the past couple of years, and one that allows me to vent my often murderous rage in the safety of a virtual world – Hitman: Blood Money.

My experiences with the series of games under the moniker Hitman began with the second edition of murderous assassination capers – Silent Assassin. It opened my eyes to a world of ingenious ways to kill people, and obvious yet devilishly tricky exploits built into each map to make your passage through each level as unnoticed as possible. I truly loved the game for a good few months as I worked my way through each mission, preying on the computer’s reckless abandon and leaving each mission with a neatly dispatched target behind me. The next game, Contracts, I did not play. I had read about it from a number of sources, all of which telling me that it was all I disliked about the first game, and none of the more attractive features which I had grown accustomed to. As a result, I had to look elsewhere for my sneaky virtual killings (onto the Splinter Cell series, in fact).

For a few years my gaming was woefully devoid of my favourite bald-headed barcode-bearing cloned assassin. A year or so ago, however, I finally decided to delve back into the darkly humorous world of Hitman and purchased the latest game (which by that time had been on the market for some time), namely Blood Money. The reviews had been overwhelmingly positive for the newest game in the franchise, and yet I had failed to pick it up when it first came out due to the long absence Hitman had had on my life – I no longer cared about the highly convoluted storyline about exactly why Mr. 47 has a barcode printed on the back of his head, and the gameplay I had found so appealing was readily available, at least partially, in other games I already owned. Despite these other games, I still yearned for the old days of blood spattered rooms with unwitting AI ignoring the dripping red streams and choose to turn and face a blank wall for 20 to 30 seconds. I missed Hitman.

The major difference between Blood Money and its predecessors is the surprising but not unwelcome addition of some dark humour into its formula. Where before Silent Assassin seemed to consider itself a very serious and grave game, Blood Money takes it in completely the other direction and allows you to take out your targets while dressed as a clown, or Father Christmas. Vitally, however, these choices are not forced upon you. You can still take the serious route, avoiding putting bombs in cakes or rigging barbeques to explode and instead use the trusty fibre wire to garrotte people as their colleagues carry on oblivious. Being who I am, I of course chose the most ridiculous option available, and soon was enjoying myself immensely shooting dogs with tranquilizer darts from air rifles and poisoning donuts and feeding them to federal agents.

The world you occupy is even more open this time around, allowing you to choose from a huge number of routes and possibilities in order to reach the target you have been set. At no point are you forced into one style of play. It’s even technically possible to go all shooty and play it as if there were no such thing as stealth, although if you do you negate the cleverness of the world IO Interactive has created for you. Instead, the real magic of the game comes across slowly as you successfully strangle someone in the lift and steal their clothes all before reaching the floor the lift is headed to.

I’m not a huge graphics freak, but even I have to admit that Blood Money has done a fantastic job in that department.The graphics in the game really are superb, and are on a par with most games being released now, a full two years after Blood Money, and the animations complement the style of the game brilliantly. It captures the feel of whatever location you are currently sneaking through, be it a quiet suburban street or a fantastically realised crowded street festival.

By now I should have given you a pretty good idea of what the game is like, and whether or not you would enjoy it. It may be that you are simply not psychotic enough to enjoy a well executed murder, and if that is the case, good luck to you. I, however, am one of those people who like to see a little blood spatter the floor as my target falls to the ground with a bullet hole in his head as I, out of view, quietly pack up my sniper rifle and walk away, a free man.

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