Publisher: EIDOS Interactive
Developer: IO Interactive
N Amer - 06/20/2007
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Hitman Trilogy Review
Agent 47 might not be as iconic as other game characters like Lara Croft or even Sonic the Hedgehog but those who know him know him well. He’s the silent, deadly and dedicated assassin that is a talented master of his trade and who is quick to change disguises at a moments notice. Like the Grand Theft Auto series that released a collection pack that included GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas, the Hitman series is worthy of its own trilogy pack with Hitman Trilogy for the PS2.
The Trilogy begins with Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, a sequel to the first Hitman that was released on the PC only until its remake for the consoles now known as Hitman: Contracts (the second game packaged in this collection). Finally, there’s Hitman: Blood Money, a game that was released on the current-generation platforms as well as the Xbox 360. All three games, different in terms of the game’s various levels, all feature Agent 47, a hired assassin contracted by the mysterious Agency the sends him traveling around the world. Guided only by a contact known simply as Diana, Agent 47 sets out to eliminate his target or targets using weapons gamers are free to select.
The real beauty of the Hitman games, though, has always been the fact that you can carry out your assignment anyway you see fit. All three games nearly always introduce different ways of approaching a scenario and gamers can even discover their own ways of carrying out tasks whether it’s taking advantage of a timed situation or an environmental element that can play a role in a target’s demise. On top of that, Agent 47 is proficient in firearms, explosives, stealthy kills and, of course, is something of a master of disguise (although how anyone can be fooled by the fact that he doesn’t use wigs to cover his baldness is beyond me). The most thrilling aspect of the games are the assignments themselves and all three games are never short on one or two missions that stand out as favorites and thus making them addictive enough that you’ll find yourself going back to the same level just to see how many different ways you can complete the mission.
Story or plotlines have never been the series’ biggest strength, although each one does have interesting setups that tell us something about Agent 47. Hitman 2, for instance, places the Agent in Sicily where he is trying to run from his past by living in a monastery but sadly, he is pulled back into the game when the kind priest that took him in was captured by the mafia. Hitman: Contracts takes us to the beginning where we come to discover a startling fact that Agent 47 might very well be a clone. Contracts finds Agent 47 near death as he recalls missions originally found in first PC release. In Hitman: Blood Money, our favorite Agent is wrapped up in a conspiracy that finds the Agency fighting for its survival while 47 gets caught up in a plot to assassinate the President of the United States.
As I mentioned earlier, the missions are what will have gamers deeply involved in each of the games and all three have interesting mission scenarios. In Hitman 2, for example, you’ll be pulling off some interesting missions whether it’s killing the same mafia Don that took off with your friend to putting a sniper bullet into the skull of an ex-KGB member up to no good. Contracts has you doing some interesting stealthy kills such as the moment 47 enters a biker gang’s hideout or infiltrating a restaurant to eliminate a Chinese Triad boss and a corrupt chief of police. In Blood Money, the game allows you to approach a situation as violently as you like or take the stealth route to kill a Hugh Hefner-like playboy during a Christmas party or eliminate the groom during a wedding in the Louisiana swamplands.
Controlling Agent 47 changes somewhat for each game it’s not until you get to Blood Money that you get a vast improvement in how the bald assassin really plays. In Blood Money, he doesn’t easily alert enemies each time he takes out his weapon because he hides it behind his back, obscuring the weapon from sight unlike Hitman 2 or Contracts. It is here that he can also use his trusty fiber wire with more ease. In the first two games, if you’re not careful you’ll alert your target immediately. There are a few features that do remain constant throughout the game such as your ability to drop your weapons on the fly and the fact that you can pick weapons at the beginning of each mission briefing that best suits the given situation. You can also switch from the game’s third-person perspective to a first-person view for more accurate shooting.
While there is certainly many good things about the game there are certainly a lot of bad things as well. The enemy and civilian AI has always been something of an annoyance. You will find yourself scratching your head over things like how a passerby just “knows” you killed a guard from a much-concealed place and then, in another situation, completely fails to hear a kill that happens a few feet away. Then, for no real reason, some enemies as well as some civilians see right through your disguise even despite the fact that you covered all your bases (e.g. hid the bodies well without leaving a single drop of blood at the scene). There are annoyances that are hard to ignore but do not - in any way - take away from the overall experience.
Visually speaking, all three games are not bad looking at all. The early games each have their own visual style and while Contracts has the same familiar feel to Hitman 2, the environments and character models look a tad crisper and more detail has been placed on the environments. Blood Money is a different creature altogether seeing as more detail can be found on everything even the facial details of every living creature that crosses your path. The lighting effects is also a lot better in Blood Money and while the rag doll physics can be found on the first two games it just looks more natural in the last game of the trilogy. Blood Money also pulls off some impressive feats such as recreating the massive crowds of partygoers during Mardi Gras in the New Orleans mission.
Another highlight comes in the form of the soundtrack and all three games sport the same Jesper Kyd score that is both brilliant and wonderfully dramatic. Each game does sound right and, while the early games don’t do the same detailed sound effects that Blood Money features, there are great moments where the sound plays a big role in putting you in the moment. For example, during the Meat King assignment in Contracts, you’ll enter a deranged killer’s room in a meat packing plant where he carved up a client’s daughter to the song “Put Your Head On My Shoulders.” It’s definitely a creepy moment. The voice acting is also handled nicely in all three games as well.
The Hitman Trilogy for the PS2 is the perfect collection for anyone who is looking for a unique action game or for those who missed out on this series of games that are true classics of their genre. Whether you like the tactical goodness of Hitman 2, the highly entertaining stealthy action of Contracts or the stylish action of Blood Money, there’s something for everyone in this collection. If this is your first time playing a Hitman game, you are in for a real treat.
Review Scoring Details for Hitman Trilogy
The controls in the first two games are not as responsive as the third one but they get the job done. Agent 47 has a few tricks up his sleeve and there are multiple ways to carry out a hit for every scenario. The game’s missions vary but most of them are creative and fun.
Watch as the graphics go from good to better and - finally - outstanding. The noticeable visual improvements from Hitman 2 are hard to ignore when you get to Contracts and finally to Blood Money. The character models for the secondary characters aren’t as wonderfully detailed as our favorite bald assassin but it’s still cool to see them go limp when you carry out a hit.
The music, by composer Jesper Kyd, wonderfully gives all three games its cinematic feel and it easily one of the most dramatic scores to grace video games. The voice acting for all three games is also excellent but Blood Money is the only game that has better sound effects and background noise.
Some assignments are harder than others are but the most challenging aspect of the Hitman games has always been finding more than two different ways of completing a hit. All three games also have some annoying flaws such as goons somehow knowing you just killed somebody when said goons were well out of earshot.
All three Hitman games are certainly worthy of a trilogy set and all three discs offers a great variety of missions that range from wickedly fun to downright brilliantly addictive. If I had to pick a favorite out of the three, I would pick Blood Money for its slightly revamped gameplay … and it comes with a bonus disc with a preview of the upcoming Kane & Lynch game for the next-generation consoles.
The Hitman Trilogy is the perfect set for anyone who hasn’t experienced these three classic games the first time around. The stealthy/action antics of Agent 47 are not only memorable but also the most fun you’ll have on your PlayStation 2. Really, do yourself a favor and pick this one up … you will not regret it.
The Hitman Trilogy is the perfect set for anyone who hasn’t experienced these three classic games the first time around
Reviewer: Nick Valentino
Review Date: 07/02/2007