There are some things that I would rather Reaper didn't do because it just encourages him. High on that list is anything that involves blood, guns (which cause blood) or "offing people" for money. I can just see him finishing up Hitman: Contacts, leaning back on his chair and tapping his lips thoughtfully with one hand as he strokes his AK47 with the other. Well, before he snaps and starts offering to kill people for cookies, let's all enjoy his review!
Ã‚"˜Hitman: ContractsÃ‚', is the third game in the Ã‚"˜HitmanÃ‚' series. It continues the story of the super clone Agent 47, who was bred for the express purpose of killing, but with a slight twist this time Ã‚"˜round.
In Ã‚"˜ContractsÃ‚' youÃ‚'ll play the mission in the form of flashbacks that 47 has for the majority of the game. This isnÃ‚'t the twist, oh no. Rather youÃ‚'ll see what 47 sees in some of his most bizarre and sick missions ever. YouÃ‚'ll attend a fetish party, have some fun in scenic Rotterdam, and even visit a haunted hotel. I feel so ridiculous typing that last part but itÃ‚'s the truth. The ridiculousness I feel from Ã‚"experiencing 47Ã‚'s realityÃ‚" is what prompted this review, so this review will focus on poor 47Ã‚'s perspective on reality and what that does to the game.
IÃ‚'ve never played the first game mostly because seemingly every person on Earth who either played it or reviewed it said it had the worst control scheme devised. So I canÃ‚'t comment on that game. I have, however, played the hell out of Ã‚"˜Hitman 2.Ã‚' In that previous version; you were given the mission, allowed to select your gear, and then set out. What followed usually consisted of some variation of shootings, garrote wiring, or explosions. There were no haunted hotels or hooker Ã‚"distractionÃ‚" tactics. You were a killer, cold professional, bald.
This aforementioned flashback-thingies precludes allowing you to select a weapon load-out. Apparently 47 is so much of a bad-ass that he doesnÃ‚'t need weapons that most other assassins would wield. Because he quite frankly doesnÃ‚'t bring jack with him.
On the default difficulty, this isnÃ‚'t so bad because youÃ‚'ll always be equipped with a silenced .45ACP pistol. This alone doesnÃ‚'t make achieving a perfect assassination possible but it certainly will allow you to get yourself out of a sticky situation. Many a problem IÃ‚'ve faced was rectified by a few well placed shots from Ã‚"˜Mr. Whisper,Ã‚' as I call it. However, on the higher difficulties, all youÃ‚'ll have are the akimbo un-silenced .45Ã‚'s. That really sucks when you combine it with the limited saves. Like or hate the akimbos thatÃ‚'s pretty much all youÃ‚'ll have until you can find or steal something else.
The lack of choice gives the missions a unique feeling in that the first time through youÃ‚'ll only have weapons themed with the level. In a level set in an English manor, the only weapons youÃ‚'ll have available are breech-loaded shotguns and pistols. It makes the level feel more immersive I guess, but that will be the last thing on your mind as youÃ‚'re struggling to sneak by a guard or reach an objective that might have otherwise been accessible given the proper equipment.
If you havenÃ‚'t played any Hitman games then you probably donÃ‚'t know about 47Ã‚'s psychic intuition. At key points in the game, heÃ‚'ll mysteriously be made aware of things going on around him. It aides game play but the way itÃ‚'s done really breaks suspension of disbelief. The giant box at top of the screen really screams, Ã‚"˜IÃ‚'m a game! DID YOU FORGET YOUÃ‚'RE PLAYING A GAME BECAUSE YOU ARE!Ã‚'
I remember reading previews of Ã‚"˜ContractsÃ‚' after it was announced and how the designers spoke of seeing things from 47Ã‚'s perspective. I expected something messed up, but never perverted, I suppose. HeÃ‚'s a killer for hire and one would assume that a person who kills killers would haveÃ‚"… issues. DonÃ‚'t get me wrong, IÃ‚'ve killed my fair share of hookers in Vice City but some of this crap really takes the cake. He apparently sees some messed up stuff that also coincidentally makes for really great cheese factor in a video game. The first time you really get beat over the head with this content is in the second level, the fetish party. YouÃ‚'ll see party-goers grinding on each other (amongst other things), a rather sick murder, and blood everywhere. A cut scene in this level pretty much sums it all up.
It all seems extremely over-the-top, like the designers were really trying to have a level with Ã‚"sexÃ‚" and violence and what they wound up with was something that belongs more on an episode of CSI or Law and Order: SVU. In the world of 47, it just feels really stupid. I donÃ‚'t care that 47 could kill someone with a meat hook. I guess I just assumed that 47 could do that. ItÃ‚'s a sharp piece of metal. I also donÃ‚'t care that programmers can make a bunch of textured polygons resembling a Ã‚"manÃ‚" virtually grope a bunch of textured polygons that resemble a Ã‚"woman.Ã‚" I guess I just assumed that thatÃ‚'s what programmers do in lieu of real human contact. (I kid because I love, you number crunchers!)
In the opening cutscenes, we establish that 47 was wounded on a job gone bad. So I thought that possibly the Ã‚"crazinessÃ‚" of the levels reflected his mental state and that they would steadily improve as he did. Not so. The haunted hotel level (well, itÃ‚'s really just one ghost but still pretty damn retarded) occurs as 47 is much better.
Several other notable additions: one is that you can now wound people. This doesnÃ‚'t really affect the game unless you wound somebody and their screams and moans alert a guard who hadnÃ‚'t noted your presence. IÃ‚'ll be honest, someone clutching their virtual guts, literally crying out to god kind of creeps me out so I usually wind up mercy killing them. This leads me directly to addition number two. Some of your melee weapons have new special attacks. For instance, you usually use pool cues to beat peoplesÃ‚' brains outs. I had wounded an English noble who was in the aforementioned gut clutching position. I decided to alleviate his suffering. Fully expecting 47 to simply beat the ever loving crap out that dandy gentleman I moved in for the kill; imagine then my horror as 47 instead impaled this poor sod in his spine and broke the pool cue off. I have also included a screenshot 47 stabbing a gang member. This by itself is nothing to get excited given the nature of the game, rather the amount of times he stabbed the guy prior to this one and the number of times after that I think is worth noting. All told he skewered the biker like five times. Was that necessary, 47? Do you feel better about yourself now? Hmmm? IÃ‚'m pretty sure he was dead after two, buddy. Upon doing some further research I found out that these are actually Ã‚"specialÃ‚" attacks that you can use with a key press combo. They donÃ‚'t really do anything other than give you an extra and brutal option.
The final addition is really strange. Once 47 receives a fatal blow, the game slows down ala Max PayneÃ‚'s bullet time allowing you to seriously dish out some damage. The effect is extremely confusing and totally useless to the game. There was no mention of this feature in the tutorial or book so I thought it was some axed feature that just hung around. After doing some pretty extensive research on the net I found out its purpose. You can, if you perform a certain action, bring 47 back to life providing you do it before he expires. However, this crashes the un-patched PC version so be forewarned.
Wrapping up the game play portion of this review, Contracts has an extremely unsatisfying ending. ItÃ‚'s pretty damned clichÃƒÂ©, quite honestly and made me want to slam my head in to my desk.
I would have rather that the creative talents behind the game spent their time working on ways of making game play facets better. Figure out ways of alerting the player to whatÃ‚'s going on without having a big box that appears on the top rather than wasting time coming up with different ways of making pixels grind on other pixels. (Even though this model proved hugely successful in The Sims.)
Quashing bugs that were present in Hitman 2 would also have been a worthwhile endeavor in my opinion. A favorite of mine that still exists is when you sometimes go to pull an item from inventory youÃ‚'ll actually wind up with an item located next to it in the inventory. Occasionally, this only results in a slight embarrassment like killing someone with 9mm parabellum as opposed to .45 caliber but when you go to get a silenced SIG and wind up with a pair of binocularsÃ‚"… wellÃ‚"… thatÃ‚'s not so helpful.
Scripting bugs also crop up and sometimes glaringly so. My game got stuck in a loop in a level in Rotterdam after I tried to use a hooker to distract a gang member. I wound up killing the gang member to get back to the game because it the bug involved a mini cut scene that would switch the game to letterbox. Very annoying. Scripting bugs were not uncommon in the previous game.
In addition to the death bug I mentioned earlier, IÃ‚'ve also had a crash to desktop on the first level when I went through the wrong door. The bug hasnÃ‚'t resurfaced but itÃ‚'s still really annoying fifteen minutes in to the game. IÃ‚'ve also had several screenshots IÃ‚'ve taken come up as totally black when using the in-game screenshot function. Excepting the CTDÃ‚'s, none of these are real show stoppers but still pretty damn annoying, none the less.
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
I beat the game in about twelve hours but as anyone whoÃ‚'s played knows, thereÃ‚'s huge replay value in a Hitman game if youÃ‚'re a perfectionist freak. Contracts also has special rewards in every level for getting the Silent Assassin rating plus certain special items that can only be unlocked after youÃ‚'ve beat the game.
What Hitman is really lacking is multiplayer. As my good friend, The_Bishop, can tell you IÃ‚'ve ranted about a multiplayer mode IÃ‚'ve called Silent Assassin for years. Basically, it works like this: YouÃ‚'ve got eight players tops. One person plays the target/commander. He has access to surveillance from cameras and can also see what the guards see. He canÃ‚'t defend himself but he can call for help from the guards. Think of the mercs from Pandora Tomorrow and thatÃ‚'s what youÃ‚'ve got for the guards, limited capabilities but still lethal. Then youÃ‚'ve got one to two assassins. They work as a team to eliminate the target. The catch to all of this is that thereÃ‚'s lots of NPCÃ‚'s going about their business. Janitors, other guards, secretaryÃ‚'s, delivery boys, the list goes on. And no one can tell another person apart until they blatantly do something that marks them as an assassin.
I know there are issues with this model of play but surely they can come up with something compelling!
All told, even if youÃ‚'re not a fan of 47 then at least look at Contracts as a rental if you like the sneaker type of game play. If you enjoy Hitman the way I enjoy it, well, youÃ‚'ll still want the game but some parts will disappoint.