Hitman: Blood Money

aka: Hitman 4, Hitman: Argent de sang, Hitman: Krwawa Forsa
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Agent 47 the assassin returns in the 4th installment of the Hitman series. This time he goes on a trip around America, undertaking missions in major cities such as Las Vegas, New Orleans, Los Angeles and other exotic locations. This time, he better watch his back, as his long-time employer, the International Contract Agency, is threatened by a mysterious rival.

Gameplay in Hitman: Blood Money is generally similar to the previous installments. Once again, your job will be to complete several assassination missions. You can sneak around in disguise to avoid the suspicious guards, or you can instead open fire on everyone you see. When you complete your mission, you're given a rating - from "Mass Murderer" up to the coveted "Silent Assassin".

Blood Money introduces a lot of new features, however. A new notoriety system will track every single one of your moves, which in turn will demand utmost calculation in order to successfully accomplish your objectives. For those of you who are tired of a direct approach, you will be given the opportunity to stage accidents and should you be suspected, bribes and "other" accidents will always be at hand. Blood Money also gives the player the opportunity to customize weapons.

Spellings

  • Hitman. Кровавые деньги - Russian spelling
  • 杀手:血钱 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

368 People (356 developers, 12 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 64 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 114 ratings with 5 reviews)

It's a good game, so why don't I love it?

The Good
I've had the opportunity to play previous games in the Hitman series, and though each of them have their faults in places, they seem to be pretty solid entries into the gaming pantheon. So, I was pretty happy to finally get the chance to play Blood Money. And I was satisfied with the result. And yet, I wasn't.

But, this is The Good, so let's take a look at that, starting with the visuals. It's been a few years since Silent Assassin and Contracts came out, so the graphics have been bumped up accordingly for 2006 sensibilities. What I'm most impressed about regarding the game are not the shader tricks employed (although the Shader Model upgrades are nice, of course), but the detail in the level environments. The levels in Blood Money are very dense on the detail front, and that goes a long way to making the game a lot more immersive than previous entries. They also put a lot more polys into the character models for this release, which was something that desperately needed to be done.

But really, where Blood Money really shines is on the sound front. The audio engineers working on this went to bat on this one, and have come up hitting over .500 here. The sound sampling is drastically improved for BM, and ambient sounds are very intelligently placed. Of course, Jesper Kyd is also definitely one of the top (if not the best, and at this point in time - 2010 - I would argue that he IS the best) composers in the industry these days, and his productions on this outing are a rather excellent pastiche of new themes, rearranged themes from old (pre-Hitman) games, and songs that take elements and leitmotifs from all the previous Hitman games into account. There are some non-Kyd songs in the game, but they are all integrated into the title seamlessly. They even had the balls to pull off a tone-deaf rendition of one of these songs as a plot element for a level in the game, which was an amazing idea on the creative end of things. Whoever thought of that little turn certainly has my appreciation. I predict that in the near future, I will be on eBay or Amazon looking to add this game's soundtrack to my collection.

Regarding the gameplay, I will say that while it wasn't perfectly implemented, there were a lot of nice new features tossed into this game. One thing I really like is the accident system, which is really something they should have added some time ago. Also, the close combat system is another welcome addition, although it does make 47 a little overpowered at times; instead of knocking out or killing an enemy with stealth, as per the older titles, you can just smash their nose in and bop them on the head if you get them in an amenable situation to do so. I know that does sound like a complaint...but on the whole its better than not having an unarmed game at all, so I'll rate it as a positive for now, as well. I have no problems with the "human shield" system, though, in fact I think it's the best addition to the game - certainly a lot quicker than the sedative syringe.

As a side note to the gameplay, the new control system is generally an improvement to the older one from Hitman 2. Of course, it does take some getting used to.

The Bad
However, one thing I couldn't get used to is the plot. Blood Money suffers the same problem that Hitman 1 & 2 have; the plot is great on paper, but becomes confounding when executed. You can follow what's going on just enough to get the general gist of how the story line develops, but nothing you can really sink your teeth into. Actually, to be totally honest with you, this has the least satisfying plot to the series as of the date of publication, and towards the end of the game it feels like a real slog to get through the last few levels just to see things wrap up.

Another thing that bugs me is that the realism of the setting has also been compromised a bit in this release. While one could argue that the Hitman universe arguably has never really strived for a great deal of "real-realism", and has generally been more in favor of "movie-realism", this release doesn't even reach that level. On the whole, the game universe in this outing feels like a dark cartoon with really goofy, unrealistic supporting characters. It's less "The Professional", and more like a dark version of "Batman: The Animated Series" with Batman replaced by a bald guy with a barcode on his head, armed with bombs and a Walther WA-2000 sniper rifle, and the villains only look slightly less dorky and swear a lot more.

Other problems could be found in the levels themselves. While they were very detailed and great to look at, they suffered from inherent design problems; in many cases, they were way too linear and scripted. Even though the empathsis is on stealth with this release, in it's own way you have a resurgence of the "Hidden Valley-style" mission where there is really only one way to go about things. Case in point; the ways that you can approach and pass both Las Vegas missions are very limited, and if you want to go for Silent Assassin then you are only looking at one or two viable strategies. This also affects many of the other level sets in the game, although some missions are more flexible than others.

Gameplay-wise, while the accident system and the other new gameplay features having been implemented presently is a step in the right direction, you do seem limited insofar as to how you can employ that system. For example, there are some ledges in the game were you can push people off, and those kills are counted as accidents. The same thing can also be done on staircases. However, in some cases there are some ledges you can't push people off of, even though there is no reason why you couldn't. Even worse, if you push someone down a flight of stairs at an angle that would most certainly be fatal, invariably it seems that some NPCs are only ever knocked out by said shoves, no matter what the circumstances are. These new gameplay features are not as solidly coded as one would hope, and I would definitely like to see them cleaned up in a sequel.

Speaking of solid coding, there's a distinct lack of it in some parts of the game. One really buggy mission is New Orleans during Mardi Gras. You are lead to believe that the targets in this mission are psychotic and will react badly to their plans being disrupted, but they actually react very little to anything you do at all. This makes the mission artificially harder - at least on the first playthrough - than it should be, since you are on a time limit and your intel would probably lead you to do a lot of unnecessary sneaking around. Furthermore, I encountered one situation where I was denied entry into a bar because the cop said I wasn't in a costume. The only thing is, is that I was dressed up as a big yellow bird. I don't know about you, but I generally consider that to be a costume. And why the N.O.P.D. would prevent you from entering a bar during Mardi Gras is beyond me, by the way, as is the fact that if you go into said bars dressed as anything other than a waiter, every cop in the city will try to kill you. And that's just one mission.

sigh I don't know. I really like the Hitman series, but there are just so many little things about this title that bug me, enough that I almost don't even really feel like playing it again now that I've beat it. Which is really odd, as I can replay the older titles like crazy. Just give me the Maylasia missions from Hitman 2, for example, and I am a happy camper. Not so much here. In fact, I very nearly replayed the whole of the 2009 Ghostbusters game again after taking a break from Blood Money during my first playthrough of it. While GB:TVG is fun and massively entertaining, its very linear and I've already beaten it. That it can pull me away from a much less linear title, let alone a game that I hadn't even beaten yet, is not a good sign.

One last thing; when I tried to fire the game up for the first time, the Blood Money executable file said that I was missing a DirectX 9 file. Now, I will admit that I am using Windows 7 64-Bit, and that I did fix the problem by downloading the DirectX 9 redistributable pack of .DLL files and throwing the correct .DLL in the game's primary directory. But come on, this game is only four years old. I have games from the late 90s that use DirectX 5, 6, and 7 calls that run flawlessly on my box as-is. I will freely admit that this is in part the result of the OS breaking support with the old DX9 API...but it's also something that game developers should be on the ball about as well. Heck, Windows Vista (which is pretty close in functionality to Seven) was released only a few months after Blood Money made its debut, so its somewhat incredible that IO Interactive couldn't have future-proofed things for impending DirectX updates a little better, either during the initial release or through a patch.

The Bottom Line
All and all, I still think this title is worth picking up. It's generally fun for the first playthrough. Certainly, if nothing else, give it a shot for the scenery and - especially - the music.

But I still can't feel that I am rating this release a little highly to be honest with you. Individually, the parts that make up this game are pretty high quality. But they just don't come together very well, and this bothers me quite a lot.

But, since I should sum it up in a line or two, "Hitman: Blood Money" a good game in it's own way, but it doesn't really stack up well to the other games in the series, sadly. Hopefully IO will make Hitman 5 a little more flavorful than this game turned out to be at the end of the day. In the mean time, pick this one up if you find it at a good discount.

Windows · by Longwalker (723) · 2010

More evolution than revolution, but still a worthy contender.

The Good
When I approached the original Hitman codename 47 game, I was completely burnt out on everything I was playing at the time, and was looking for a fresh and unique game experience, and needless to say, it delivered in spades.

For me the game evoked a mix of Bond, The Jackal, and Mission Impossible all rolled into one, and here you could actually take part, and be at the centre of the virtual intrigue, and it made for some truly compulsive gaming. The title protagonist would also prove something of an enigma, of whom story and background would be developed throughout the course of the game and its subsequent sequels, and this entry in the series continues, and expands upon the ongoing story.

The game-play here is, like previous games’ in the series, for evolution rather than revolution. So, all the same classic mechanics which made the original so great are still present, the only changes in this regard are tweaks and updates in various areas.

Of course, the game engine has been further improved upon, and for example here the New Orleans Mardi Gras environment has a phenomenal amount of character models on screen without dropping a frame. It is quite an amazing sight to behold in action.

Something of note here which has been expanded on in this instance is the narration, which has been given a much stronger focus this time around. There are two sides to this, the first is in the form of cut-scenes which develop the story in which is told, sort of retrospectively, as an account being divulged to a journalist, in between each mission, and the second being part of the new mission evaluation system in the form of a front-page newspaper spread, which allows you to read of your exploits, and also of other news, some of it just for fun, and other bits might flesh out aspects the story further.

Probably the biggest new game-play facet brought forward is in the form of accidents. If you have ever watched a murder mystery TV show like, ‘Murder She Wrote’ or ‘Columbo’, you can probably imagine the types of scenarios that can be accomplished here. I don’t want to give away any of the more elaborate schemes, but a basic example is like for instance say you’re on a cruise ship, and you’re alone with one other person on a high deck, you could nudge them off the railings. Now this presents an interesting AI element, if you went down to where he fell, and lurched over the body, some third party might come and say something like “What happened here?” in a concerned, rather than accusative tone, and like an innocent bystander you can walk away from the scene acting natural. So in turn, unless the act is witnessed, it is chalked up as an accident.

Overall, the AI has been further tweaked, and the bugs, I suppose you can call them, that were problematic in the past have been ironed out. For example, the first two games had quite twitchy enemies, where as even when you were in disguise, if you were seen at close proximity, your threat metre would go through the roof, and your cover would be blown, and this would happen in a sort of haphazard random way which was quite disconcerting. Also, your cover could be blown if you did something completely silently in a similarly isolated place, your cover would be blown without provocation. So to clarify, these types of things are no longer a problem.

Before commencing a mission, you are given the opportunity to use funds gained from previous jobs to buy or upgrade equipment, such as silencers, scopes, remote detonator mines, more advanced faster lock-picks, undetectable rifle cases that will pass by security systems, and some other useful accessories. The sorts of things on offer here lean in either stealth or more of a commando direction, so you’ll find depending on how YOU play the game will determine your ultimate preferences.

In terms of controls, the layout works very well. This is the first Hitman game I have played on Xbox, having played all previous outings on the PC, and in this instance, I didn’t have any quibbles with using the control pad. The analogue sensitivity seemed just right, and also the game prompts you as you go with the controls throughout the game, such as what button to press at any given instance, and it’s not obtrusive, instead just infinitely helpful. The vibration feedback (which is disabled by default), is also used to very good effect, e.g. when you use a sniper rifle, 47's heavy breathing will be translated into strong rhythmic feedback, and it does add something extra to the proceedings.

As per usual, the audio side of things is of a high standard again here. Voice acting is very good, particularly from the key actors that have more substantial roles, and character’s from previous entry’s reprise their roles, so there is that comfortable familiarity. The music score from Jesper Kyd and the Budapest symphony orchestra in particular is again here very fitting and works well, and other incidental tracks also mesh nicely with the scheme of things.

Visuals for this version of the game are solid, and I think wouldn’t differ too much from the PS-2 version in most regards, but the frame rate is consistently high, and with full scene anti aliasing everything looks as it should, and the level of overall detail is quite good, the usual suspects like skeletal animation and rag-doll physics take pride of place, and there are no genuine problems in this area. On a side note, there is support for 480p high definition (PAL Version) but I wasn’t able to test this, but I would imagine the increase in picture quality would bring the visuals closer to the Xbox 360 version of the game.

The Bad
One thing I found quite disheartening about this entry in the series, is how IO felt that they had to appeal towards the GTA crowd. Specifically in the first introductory mission, which is rife with obscenities and course language, which in turn seems quite uncharacteristic in comparison to the sort of atmosphere generated in previous outings. This is but an isolated instance, however, and merely serves as an initial hook to adhere to a specific purpose.

The tutorial section is crafted in such a way as to suggest, or hint at playing the game in more of an action oriented way I felt, rather than as a pure stealth affair, and even puts the player in circumstances where violence cannot be avoided, admittedly in order to explore all possible facets of the game, but in doing this, I think could conceivably give a decidedly one-dimensional first impression, primarily to those who are new to world of Hit man, which moreover I think is perhaps a bit too heavy handed in its execution.

This brings me to the notoriety system, which is another unique addition to this game. Basically, what this is for is, if you are violent, e.g. shooting guards and innocents, or whatever, you are given notoriety points, and the more overly violent you are, the more points are tallied. At the end of a mission, you have the opportunity to bribe civilians, police, or even acquire a new identity, to clear your points, given that you have earned enough money to do so. If you go into the next mission with notoriety points, it is supposed to make the mission more difficult, such as tighter security etc. There is nothing genuinely bad about this addition, but for me personally, it seemed a bit needless, because I didn’t approach it as an action game. This is totally subjective, of course.

Something newly added here, is the ability to throw coins in order to distract, draw attention etc. While in theory this is a solid inclusion, and something similar had been previously employed in such games as Splinter Cell and Manhunt to good effect. In this instance, unfortunately, it isn’t so well done, and I found in practise using the coin to draw any kind of reaction, a lengthy hit and miss affair, and more often than not the latter, and proved so ineffectual to the point of being useless. One of the main problems is you have to be so close by the individual(s) to get any kind of reaction if you’re lucky, it more or less nullifies the whole purpose of what you want to achieve. Put simply, poor implementation.

All the missions take place in the US, and while there is nothing really wrong with this, in all previous entries in the series, the locations you undertook your missions were from all different parts of the globe, from the dense snow of Russia, sneaking around the back-alleys of China, to traversing the lush Mayan jungle, and I liked this kind of exotic variety, which is notably absent here.

This is most likely fixed in higher revisions of the game, but I bought a first run copy the same day it came out, and I had some trouble with the game crashing. It only happened about three times, which isn’t too bad, but it was very annoying when you lose all your progress, because save games are only temporary.

The Bottom Line
I was very excited about Hitman Blood Money, and as I mentioned pounced on it when released, and did enjoy it, but I must admit wasn’t quite as enchanted this time around, I guess having played all previous games in the series I was expecting something a bit more, I don’t know, more substantially different, for lack of better words, and that perhaps IO rested on their laurels just a bit, and were perhaps relying on people new to the game style to get a fresh exciting experience, and for anyone else a couple of new things, but more or less the formula hasn’t changed, great as it is, and what you see is basically what you get. The new accident system was a good idea, but I still found it easy to fall back into past habits, and soon discovered my old tricks still worked most of the time. So, I suppose I was a bit disillusioned by this outing, and I would be lying if I said some of the magic wasn’t gone by this point in the series. That said, it is still a very good game, and certainly still worth checking out, if you haven’t done so already.

Xbox · by Nick Drew (397) · 2007

My goodness, that railing looks dangerous...

The Good
Blood Money adds a new gameplay feature to the Hitman series - accidents. In addition to using your trusty fiber wire, you can now shove people over railings, push them down stairs, poison their food, drop pianos on them, and cause all other kinds of "accidents". The coolest thing about accidents is that they don't actually count as a "kill", so if you're really big on getting that Silent Assassin rating, you can potentially take out all of your targets with your Kill counter at 0.

There are a number of other new features as well:

  • Inventory - Your standard inventory is now a lot more useful. In every mission, you start out with your fiber wire, a remote mine and detonator, a deadly poison syringe, and a sedative syringe. The syringes have two uses each, and can be used on people, drinks, or food. None of these items can be picked up by a metal detector, so unless you're bringing actual firearms through a mission, you never have to worry about being searched.

  • Weapons - As usual, there's a large collection of firearms available in the game, and more can be collected from various levels. Certain guns can be upgraded - as you progress through the levels, you unlock more upgrades for your guns. I've only needed to use a weapon once, so I didn't get much use out of this feature, but I've still fully upgraded my Silverballer into a FrankenGun(tm) just because I could. I never took it off the shelf in my hideout, but hey, it looks pretty cool hanging on the wall.

  • Notoriety - If you're not completely stealthy during your missions, there may be witnesses, or worse, sometimes you might get caught by a CCTV camera. If you don't "deal with" these problems during the mission, your Notoriety rating will increase. After each level, you're presented with a newspaper page where the main story is about the results of your last mission. As your Notoriety increases, the police start to put together descriptions of you from witnesses and camera footage. If your Notoriety gets too high, people may start to recognize you. If you didn't take care of witnesses during a mission, you're given the chance to shell out cash to lower your notoriety - ranging from bribing witnesses to obtaining a whole new identity.

  • Crowds - Some levels have hundreds of people wandering around. I never realised just how empty the levels were in the previous Hitman games until now. The levels feel a lot more realistic in this game.

    The Bad
    It was pretty short, and only took me a few days to complete. It seemed almost "too easy".

Also, the saving system was just bizarre. Your difficulty level determines how many times you can save your game during a level. However, these saved games don't persist between sessions. So if you play a mission for a while, then quit (or worse, the game or your computer crashes), your saved games vanish. You'll have to restart the mission from scratch. Seriously, who's bright idea was that?

Also, there was an overall storyline here, but I can't help but feel that I "missed something". You overhear bits and pieces of the plot from radios, TVs, and NPCs having conversations; I'm pretty certain I didn't hear all of it the first time through. But it doesn't matter too much to me; it's all about the missions.

The Bottom Line
Just as Hitman 2 was a lot more fun than the original, Blood Money is a lot more fun than Hitman 2. All the basic gameplay is the same, but all the new features add a whole lot of options.

Windows · by Dave Schenet (134) · 2006

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Hitman: Blood Money appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

References

  • Each mission is followed by a report on your actions in the newspaper, usually detailing the circumstances surrounding your target's demise. The contents of the articles depends on your actions. Also, the newspapers have other headlines that can be read in detail as well. Now, the first paper you see include a small headline about two killers escaping from prison. This is actually an extremely obscure and subtle allusion to the Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, also developed by IO Interactive A/S.
  • Engine programmer David Guldbrandsen is inscripted as dead into a gravestone in the game with the years 1998 - 2004 which is his time he worked with IOI till Hitman: Blood Money was released.

Information also contributed by Fjonan

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Game added by Killy.

Browser added by CrankyStorming. OnLive added by firefang9212.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Sciere, DarkDante, COBRA-COBRETTI, Deleted, Brandon Burk, Mark Ennis, DreinIX, SGruber, Patrick Bregger, Starbuck the Third, DemonikD, FatherJack.

Game added May 28th, 2006. Last modified August 27th, 2023.