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Beyond the MMORPG - Hitman: Blood Money

This week, Dan Fortier of MMOWTF fame takes the wheel on this just-for-fun column that takes a look at games that we wouldn't normally cover here at MMORPG.com. Dan's topic of choice? Hitman: Blood Money for the PC.

Hitman: Blood Money

This week I’ve seized the reins of this column from Jon to highlight another game outside of the MMO genre that deserves some love. I tend to be rather closed minded when it comes to my game selection and a game has to be really compelling in some form for me to spend my precious time playing it. With that said, let’s dust off this bad boy and have a look.

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This week I chose Hitman: Blood Money developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos. Eidos has a long history of publishing well designed and intriguing 3rd person franchises with the likes of Tomb Raider, Commandos, Legacy of Kain and Thief under their belt and Hitman is no exception. My pals at Eidos are also sharing publishing duties with Funcom for Age of Conan which bodes well for that game’s future as well. Pedigree perks aside, I have to say that Hitman is a game no serious sadist should be without.

The basic premise of the game is pretty simple: You are an assassin for hire named Mr. 47 who just also happens to be a superhuman clone with the combined DNA of four criminal masterminds and a crazy geneticist. The idea worked pretty well for Serpentor right? Mr 47 is portrayed as an enigmatic and taciturn figure who is totally ruthless and without a shred of morality (Although at one point he joins a Monastery to get away from his trade). He works for money but seems to have no ambition other than to kill whomever he is paid to. Typically he is sent after ‘Bad guys’ like drug dealers, corrupt CIA agents and immensely fat crime lords, but it could just as easily be a PTA meeting as far as he is concerned.

I typically enjoy making my mark on the characters I play and RPGs like Neverwinter Nights and The Elder Scrolls give me chance to do that. In this instance there is no character customization other than the manner in which you kill your intended victims, which isn’t much less than the mainstream MMOs come to think of it. The lack of customization in this case is much less of an issue because the character is portrayed so close to my vision for an assassin. Normally the plot will force your character into some action you never would have done if given the choice, but I never got that feeling during the whole game which is rare.

The game follows a linear path from mission to mission, but within each job you have a large degree of freedom to complete it. The Agency looks to have a similar setup with its instanced missions, freeform structure and emphasis on flexibility. While The Agency isn’t about assassins specifically, it is about super-spies and mercenaries and will have to capture the same moods as this game (let’s hope the devs have been playing).

The real trademark of the franchise is your ability to impersonate almost anyone wandering around the mission area by taking their clothes and equipment. This is not a requirement however and if you are slick enough you can sneak into any place with nothing but your two piece suit and your bar-coded bald head. I can’t imagine how someone so conspicuous can put on a pair of sunglasses and an different jacket and not be noticed. Even Bruce Willis had to wear a toupee in The Jackal!

The main difference between Blood Money and the other previous Hitman titles is that you can now spend your hard earned cash to upgrade your five custom weapons: The M4 Assault Rifle, Tactical SMG, SP12 Shotgun, W2000 Sniper Rifle and of course the series favorite .45 Silverballer. You can highly customize each of the weapons to fit your style by adding things like low velocity ammo, mounted scopes and even a silencer for your Shotgun! Other upgrades such as Pain Killers to boost health and armor are also available for the right price. Obviously not all of these weapons are conceal able so they are accessible by various locations on the map away from prying eyes and can be stored there when not in use. Not the most realistic of approaches, but definitely the most fun.

Every weapon you complete a mission with is added to your inventory back at your Batcave...er Hideout where it will be available for future missions. This mechanic allows you to use items you find in the later stages when you decide to retry one of the older jobs with a bit more firepower. A full range of weapons are available including the MP7, .480 Raging Bull and the devastating FN-2000. As a MMO lover I would like to see even more variety and customizing for all the weapons, but I’ll just put that hope in a box somewhere until a The Agency comes out or they release the next Hitman for the PS3.

Last but not least, the musical score is incredible and part of the reason I did my last MMOWTF on in-game music. The environmental effects are superb and the music increases in tone and intensity as you get into more and more dramatic action. I still catch myself humming the “Ave Maria” title track from time to time.

For a single player game Hitman: Blood Money is a great diversion from your daily grind. If you’ve ever wanted to take a fiber wire to some jerk that cut you off in traffic or just want to see how good a ninja you would really make then you should definitely have this title in your game library. This article will self destruct in 10 sec...