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SummaryTakes the incredibly cool Walther 2000 sniper rifle and shoots itself squarely in the foot.
The GoodThis game has got to be one of the most wished ideas ever developed. After the way movies romanticized the hitman profession in such classics as The Killer, Nikita, The Professional, etc. it remained to be seen if videogames could do the same.... well, let's see!
For starters the game begins on the right track by setting itself apart from the pack with a distinctive style and feel thanks to a streamlined interface and some clever gimmicks (like the almighty hitman's laptop). The game takes you through a completely linear campaign that is subdivided in several open-ended missions. Each mission involves taking out someone, how to do so is entirely up to you (though there is just one or two "correct" ways). Each assignment seems to weave a larger plot-line that will ultimately reveal itself in the latest missions, however each mission is excellently crafted with a great sense of progression, and an open yet defined aproach to each.
There is a pretty large arsenal of weapons to experiment with, and equally, you'll get to experiment those weapons on a pletora of enemies and (get out of the way!) innocent bystanders. But if you are clever enough, you'll find that one of your best weapons is sneaking and infiltrating your enemies. Not only does the game allow you to sneak around and take your enemies clothes, but it also includes a lot of classic adventure touches that make the missions much more than just finding the right way to shoot your target. You'll have to extract information out of deranged sanitarium inmates, bartenders, prostitutes, or some of the other npcs that inhabit the slightly jaded world of Hitman making for a much more varied gameplay experience. Furthermore, Hitman's world is brought to life by a pretty spiffy graphics engine. The folks at IO really managed to create some cool visuals with many smoke and lighting effects as well as coping with an astounding amount of gameworld detail (take your character's tie, or the shadows for instance).
Of course the meat of the game is in the killing aspect of it, and the game deals almost perfectly with it. All of the weapons behave realistically, with great sound effects to go with them, and the enemy animations are incredibly cool when it comes to getting shot, strangled, dragged or even when they roll around trying to avoid your shots.
The BadWell, did you like all the nice things I wrote over there? Well don't get too excited, because this game takes all of that incredibly cool premises and shoots itself in the foot with them. There are just so many things wrong in this game that I don't know where to begin first, so I'll just go at it randomly, ok?
The control sucks. Pure and simple. As a previous reviewer noted you have a separate key for running... so what, right? Well, regardless of the fact that this is rather cumbersome and annoying Hitman apparently doesn't like it whenever you press both the running and regular "forward" key at the same time so our baldy friend just stops dead in the middle of a firefight whenever you do that. Cute, isn't it? The game handles using items and equipments via pop-up menues, which has worked before, but stops the game dead, since there isn't a quick way to access your weapons. You have to predict that you will be facing a confrontation and be ready to select your weapon or take a couple of seconds browsing through your equipment menu if you get surprised (or things just don't turn up as you figured)while your enemies chew you up (believe me, that "fast and furious" action will get a LOT more furious after a couple of these incidents). As for handling items, the game only makes available some options the closer you are to them, and always chooses the worst one first (one would think you would want to drag a dead body out of the way and then take his clothes, but what the heck, right??).
As for the enemies themselves they happen to have an incredibly stupid AI. They can be funneled into any corridor you want, and they will actually shoot themselves. And just try to confront someone at hand-to-hand combat for fun!
Something that is particularly offending, and that delivers a completely devastating blow to this game, is the fact that it doesn't take advantage of it's premise. Lots of movies have taken such moraly disgusting professions like the hitman's and cloaked it in an aura of romanticism and adventure while not condoning it completely. Hitman does practically none of these things, so it leaves itself wide open for a moral-bashing of epic proportions. And whose fault is this? Mr. 47 I'm afraid. You see, unlike other hitman characters, 47 doesn't react in any way to what happens around him. The plot revolves around his past, but you don't see him even reacting to that. He could actually be a way-wussier Terminator if you think about it! Blankly going from place to place spouting short and controlled (but terribly voice-acted) phrases, and taking out his guns from time to time. In essence, it is terribly hard to connect in any way with the character, he can't be neither our alter-ego, nor a credible character, since the game presents him to us in a very defined and cinematic way (effectively cutting our freedom of interpretation) but he is a complete Nimrod.
The most grievous flaw in this game however is the lack of a saving option. Lazy coding or over-pretentious game design? ("it adds to the atmosphere, c'mon, only wusses use savegames!!).... you be the judge. The fact of the matter is that most missions start with a slow pacing that requires you to judge everything and move inch-by-inch, and then end in an confrontation. Cool, uh? well, what this translates to WITHOUT a savegame feature, is that you will be wading over-and-over through lots of tedious, meager tasks you have figured out hours ago, only to try and see if you can beat that guy, or find that nuclear bomb before time runs out.... yet again. It's downright cruel, cheap and incredibly frustrating.