Hitman: Blood Money
|Hitman: Blood Money|
Hitman: Blood Money is a stealth video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox and Xbox 360. It is the fourth installment in the Hitman video game series.
The story follows the life of professional hitman, Agent 47, as narrated in cutscenes by a former Director of the FBI to a journalist who is interviewing him. The wheelchair-using ex-director Cayne recounts how his agency tracked 47 over a two-year period. The game also marks 47's arrival to the United States. The game was a critical and commercial success for Eidos, selling more than 2.1 million copies.
In Hitman: Blood Money, each mission is framed around the killing of one or more individuals, which the main protagonist, Agent 47, must accomplish. Standing between him and success are armed guards, security checkpoints, possible witnesses and other obstacles. The player guides 47 through the game's levels with the help of a map which can be accessed at any time. The map indicates the layout of each topographical area of the level, the whereabouts of 47's main targets, and other characters. In order to carry out his mission, 47 may use any method at his disposal to eliminate his targets, regardless of witnesses or violence done to bystanders. Beyond rewarding stealth over bloodshed as is traditional in the series, Blood Money includes features that directly penalize the player for making too much noise and/or being too violent; either toward their targets, bystanders, or both.
Many new features were introduced in Blood Money. These include the capability to climb through more obstacles, improved unarmed combat, the ability to use an non-player character (NPC) as a human shield with the help of a weapon (and to knock them unconscious afterwards), the ability to dispose of dead or unconscious bodies into containers, improved character animations, a new game engine, and the ability to upgrade weapons and equipment. Five of the featured weapons in the game, as well as assorted pieces of equipment such as bombs and armor, can be upgraded. Every level contains some method to make the target's death look like an accident; for example, tampering with someone's grill to make it explode when it is turned on, rigging a chandelier to fall on a target, or simply pushing the target off a balcony. There are also improvised weapons, such as nail-guns, a child's air rifle, kitchen knives, screwdrivers, stilettos, cane swords, fire extinguishers, hammers, and hedge clippers.
Also added was the "Notoriety System". If the player, during a mission, gets caught on camera surveillance or is witnessed committing murder, 47's notoriety will rise. Conversely, if the player executes the mission perfectly with none of the aforementioned events occurring, 47's notoriety will be minimal. However, if the only factor affecting 47's notoriety in a certain mission is the fact that he was recorded on CCTV, the player may enter the location in which the tape that recorded him is located, usually in disguise, and retrieve it, thus eliminating that factor; if the player retrieves the tape before being recorded, this eliminates the risk of being recorded in the first place. The higher Agent 47's notoriety is, the easier it will be for NPCs to identify him. Players may use the bribery system to negate accumulated notoriety. Notoriety gained in early missions will affect later missions. Earlier missions in which 47 has gained notoriety in can be replayed to reduce notoriety in later missions. The "Notoriety System" is not enabled on "Rookie" mode, the easiest difficulty setting.
At the end of each mission, a newspaper article is displayed about the hit, in which the content varies depending on the investigation results and the player's notoriety. It will detail the weapon most frequently used, how accurately it was used, the number of police, security, and civilians killed or injured, and if there were any witnesses. Any injured people will be counted as witnesses, who affect notoriety. Sketch drawings are also sometimes visible showing Agent 47's face, which grow progressively more accurate as 47's notoriety grows. The newspaper announces in the headline how many people were killed, whereas executing the target without any problems will simply have 47 as 'wanted by police'. The article's title relates to the player's mission rating. "Silent Assassin", in which one assassinates the targets as cleanly and quietly as possible and draws no unnecessary attention to themself, is the best rating possible. On higher difficulty levels, something as simple as 47 exiting the level in a disguise rather than his original suit will adversely affect the player's notoriety, as well as deduct $5,000 from their payment for the mission. As one advances further into the game, more and more newspapers containing the headline from the last mission will be scattered around levels.
Blood Money also improved the melee weapons system, allowing the player to lethally throw certain weapons at NPCs. Once thrown into anyone, however, the weapon cannot be retrieved. There is an exception for the hammer, which can be retrieved even though thrown into a victim. Also unlike previous games, melee weapons cannot be transferred to the player's inventory.
If 47 renders a NPC unconscious, either by using his syringe filled with sedative or knocking them out with close combat, they will not awaken for the entirety of the level until a security guard checks it, unlike previous games. In addition, if both uses of 47's sedative syringe have been used and the player does not wish to use close combat (which increases their violence rating and by extension affects their mission rating), the player may take the person they wish to sedate as a human shield and knock them out with their weapon.
47's ability to hide bodies has also been revamped. In previous games, 47 had to drag the body to a secluded area without "hiding" it, and either eliminate everyone who could possibly see the body where he left it or be quick enough to finish the mission before the next person entered. Now, 47 can dispose of unconscious or dead bodies in containers to hide them from view of guards. If the container's lid is closed, no NPCs or guards will look inside it, thus ensuring the body stays hidden and 47's cover is not blown. In addition, if 47 kills someone in an elevator by climbing through the hatch and strangling them, their body is also considered hidden, and cannot fall out of the hatch, thereby preventing it from being found. Some levels feature high level areas; it is possible to toss bodies over the side.
Blood Money introduced the concept of rival assassins to the storyline. The developers created the Mark Parchezzi character as a sort of foil to Agent 47, for he is "everything Parchezzi is not." The other "lesser" assassins were there to prove more able than "drug dealers or similar adversaries."
The game begins with a flashback to an abandoned Baltimore amusement park, where many people were killed in an accident caused by negligent maintenance of a Ferris wheel. The father of one of the victims contacts the Agency and orders a hit on the park owner, Joseph Clarence. Agent 47 carries out the hit, and following that assignment, he receives a string of contracts from American clients eager to retain his services.
The bulk of the game takes place as flashback sequences that occur concordant to the present day, in which a journalist and the former FBI Director, "Jack" Alexander Leland Cayne, discuss 47's hits over the past year and a half (2004–2005) and his involvement in them. The reporter, Rick Henderson, arranged to interview Cayne concerning a recent attack on the White House, but it quickly becomes clear that Cayne's real intent is to discuss 47. Cayne lies about many details, such as stating that 47 stole cloning data from Ort-Meyer to sell to the highest bidder, or that 47 was working with a group of assassins known as the Franchise to kill the Secretary of the Interior (though it was really the exact opposite). As the story progresses, it is implied that the Agency's employees are being gradually assassinated by the Franchise. The situation degrades to the point where 47's handler, Diana Burnwood, informs him that they are the only ones left. Eventually, Diana shuts down the Agency and divides the remaining funds between them. After completing his final assignment, 47 is approached by an old acquaintance, CIA agent Carlton Smith, who 47 had rescued earlier in the game. He offers 47 a high-profile mission, paid for using several million dollars worth of diamonds, to prevent an assassination attempt on the president of the United States, Tom Stewart. The assassins are Franchise operative Mark Parchezzi III and Vice-President Daniel Morris, both of whom are working for Alpha Zerox, a shadowy political organization that seeks to monopolize the cloning technology used to create 47. As the President intends to legalize cloning, ruining their plans, the company hopes to replace him with the much more controllable Morris.
47 successfully eliminates Morris and Parchezzi in the White House, exposing the Franchise to the public. Hunted by the police, 47 flees to his hideout. Without warning, he is visited by Diana, immediately arousing his suspicion. Diana proposes a plan to 47 to help them both escape. As 47 mulls over the briefing she hands him, expressing his misgivings as to the likelihood of its success, Diana injects him with what seems to be a fatal poison. 47's body is surrounded by SWAT officers, and Diana, announcing that killing 47 was "surprisingly pleasant", is formally inducted into the Franchise by Cayne, its founder.
The story then shifts to the present day; 47 is scheduled for cremation so his bone marrow cannot be harnessed by cloning rivals, forever destroying anyone else's chance of producing a non-defective clone. Diana drapes 47's custom pistols over his chest during his hasty funeral, kisses him after applying fresh lipstick, and leaves the funeral grounds. It becomes apparent that the "poison" she injected was actually a fake-death serum 47 had used in an earlier mission, with her lipstick containing the antidote. The funeral begins and the story then concludes in one of two different ways. In the first, it is presumed the antidote fails to work, and 47 is sent to the crematorium. In the second, canonical ending, the antidote is successful and 47 awakens (by tapping the movement keys/using the left analog stick), slaughtering everyone in the church. With both Cayne and Henderson dead, 47's identity is kept secret.
Sometime after the funeral bloodbath, Diana uses the Franchise's assets to reopen the Agency in a building overlooking the Copenhagen harbor. She receives a call from a client she refers to as "Your Majesty". The voice cannot be heard, but Diana replies that the Agency has lost track of 47. Meanwhile, 47 is seen at an unknown establishment engaging in conversation with a traditionally-dressed Asian man. They discuss a service that can be found 'in the back'. The story ends with the curtain literally closing on the two.
|Hitman: Blood Money Original Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Jesper Kyd|
30 May 2006
|Genre||Video game soundtrack|
|Label||Sumthing Else Music Works|
|Jesper Kyd chronology|
The Hitman: Blood Money Original Soundtrack, composed by Jesper Kyd, was released on 20 May 2006 by Sumthing Else and Eidos. The score was performed jointly with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and the Hungarian Radio Choir. It features Kyd's trademark ambience and dark, foreboding arrangements with the choral parts in deep brooding Latin.
In the composer's own words:
"It seemed like a natural choice to mix things up for the Blood Money score. After the electronic-driven score for Hitman: Codename 47, the orchestral Hitman 2: Silent Assassin score was a new direction for the sound of Hitman, although there are still a few purely electronic tracks in Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. For the third title, Hitman: Contracts, we wanted to go back to the games's roots and create an updated and more modern electronic score. So the Hitman series has a strong background in electronic music."
The score was nominated for the "Best Video Game Score" award in the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards ceremony, but lost out to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. However, it did receive the "Xbox Game of the Year - Best Original Score" award from IGN.
|3.||"Before the Storm"||2:40|
|6.||"Action in Paris"||3:10|
|8.||"Night Time In New Orleans"||3:17|
|11.||"Invasion on the Mississippi River"||4:15|
|13.||"Day Light in New Orleans"||4:43|
|14.||"Trouble in Vegas"||3:35|
Additional music includes a rendition of Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria" sung by Daniel Perret (Boy Soloist of the Zurich Boys' Choir) over the main menu, a rendition of "Tomorrow Never Dies" by Swan Lee in the 'Heaven' nightclub, the song "White Noise" by The Vacation in a club in the New Orleans level, as well as "Slasher" by Institute For The Criminally Insane in the 'Hell' nightclub and a rendition of Bach - Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major BWV1007 in "A Vintage Year"
Despite the fact Blood Money has been said to be the most violent game of the series yet, the magazine ads for the game generated more controversy than the title which spawned them. The ad that drew the most attention and protest depicted a woman lying on a bed in lingerie, seemingly asleep but with a bullet hole in her forehead. The caption above the picture read: "Beautifully Executed", a pun regarding the woman's appearance and her fate. Other ads were "Classically Executed", featuring a cellist with a slit throat, "Coldly Executed", showing a man in a freezer, and "Shockingly Executed", depicting a woman in a bath who has been electrocuted by a toaster.
Hitman: Blood Money received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 82.98% and 82/100, the PlayStation 2 version 82.51% and 83/100, the PC version 82.38% and 82/100 and the Xbox version 81.76% and 81/100.
Many critics felt the game was an improvement over the previous Hitman titles, with Official PlayStation Magazine UK calling it "without question the best Hitman yet". Other critics shared this sentiment, despite feeling that the basic gameplay elements were similar, if not unchanged from the previous installments, with GameSpot stating that "the underlying stealth action is mostly unchanged" while "a diverse sequence of imaginative scenarios gives Blood Money its own fair share of violent thrills." GameSpy praised the expanded scope and options in each level, such as making kills appear as accidents, that "the game features enough choices and entertaining kills to have you playing some missions more than once, striving for that exclusive Silent Assassin rating."
The soundtrack was also considered one of the game's strong points, with IGN noted the "impressive orchestral compositions", while GameTrailers felt it "drives your emotions throughout each evolving mission" and was nominated for Best Original Music in GameSpot's Best and Worst Awards 2006.
While new features and additions to the series were praised, some critics felt the Notoriety system was "underutilized" and "half-baked" while others pointed issues from the previous Hitman games still being present, notably with the AI. GameTrailers found that "some enemies behave erratically in specific situations taking you out of the experience". TeamXbox said they couldn't "really see any more alertness or cleverness on the part of the CPU than in Hitman: Contracts".
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