|Hitman: Codename 47||
|Hitman is an extremely fun and exciting game experience that simply begs to be played again and again|
|November 29th, 2000|
Let me start by saying that Hitman is the most unique and original game to come out this year. I haven't finished the game yet but I couldn't wait any longer to let everyone know just how great and satisfying this title has turned out to be. Unfortunately the game does have some bugs (which I will talk about later) that will hopefully be addressed in a patch. Despite the problems though, Hitman is an extremely fun and exciting game experience that simply begs to be played again and again.
Hitman is a 3rd person action game that is all about planning, strategy, and most important of all, stealth. You see, Hitman is a game where you have to think, similar to the Thief series. Running into a level with gun drawn will send you to an early grave. In Hitman you need to walk around and observe before taking action, which is very lethal action I might add. Thanks to the excellent AI that you'll find in Hitman, the whole stealth concept is pulled off extremely well. You'll make your way across 5 different main areas spanning over locales such as Hong Kong, Budapest, and Columbia. Each mission is cut down into 3 or 4 smaller ones that lead up to a main goal, which usually involves an assassination of a powerful bad guy, such as a drug lord. The general layout of each mission is very well done, at first levels start out small with minimal objectives but gradually get larger and much more difficult as you go. It's great the way this is done because it gives the player a chance to get a feel for the game before it starts getting really involved in the later missions.
Before you start a mission you'll be briefed on the objectives that need to be accomplished. Objectives are quite varied and range from blowing up cars to hiding bodies, each mission offers something unique and different. Before starting a level, you'll also get to choose the weapons you wish to take along with you. The main weapons in Hitman are: Close Combat, Hand Guns, Sub Machine Guns, Rifles, and Sniper Rifles. Most weapons are typical of what you would find in realistic shooters. You'll find a wide range of pistols, machine guns, silenced weapons, as well as, sniper rifles and powerful weapons like the mini-gun. One group of weapons worth mentioning though are the Close Combat ones. They are perfect for quick silent attacks that won't alert any nearby guards. My favorite and one of the most unique parts of the game is definitely the Fibre Wire (AKA Piano Wire) which can be used to strangle any victim you happen to choose. Close Combat weapons also include knives, some of which can be picked up during missions. You use these to slit the throat of your victim. I also love the way the sniper rifle is used in Hitman. You can zoom in up to 3x magnification but what makes it realistic is the fact that it never sits perfectly still. Getting the perfect shot requires accurate timing and quick reflexes on your part, which adds a lot of realism to the use of the sniper rifle. The bigger weapons cannot be easily concealed like the knives or hand guns, which makes a lot of sense because you know a big mini-gun isn't going to be able to fit in your pocket without alerting some kind of attention. Little details like that show you that IO Interactive were really thinking when they developed this title.
The graphics in Hitman are certainly up to the standards of what we have seen in recent games. The environments are filled with lots of detail that help bring each of the areas to life. When you come across a window, shoot it and watch what happens. The glass shatters very realistically and falls away leaving some pieces still in the window frame. Try the same thing with a vase and you'll be equally impressed. My favorite area so far has definitely been the Columbian Jungles, the amount of realism truly makes it feel like you are actually in a jungle. But it's not just the vivid landscapes and tall buildings that make the game stand out but the little things as well. For example, if you walk by a plant it'll move and make a rustling sound. It's details like that that really immerse you in the game and make it stand out. Player models are also very well done. All of the people you will encounter in the game look and move very realistically and you'll take notice especially when they die. I was amazed when I dragged a body into a bathroom stall, let it go and saw it slump down to the floor in a very realistic manner. Another thing that caught my eye was when I was dragging a guard over to a sewer, I dropped him when his head and shoulders were just across the opening, after a few seconds I noticed the body start to slowly fall in. If that isn't realism I don't know what is. The sounds in this game are great as well. The guns sound very realistic, and even the screams and in-game voices are well done. The only thing I didn't really like in the audio department were the voice-overs, there was really nothing overly great there. Music pretty much fell into the same area for me, you rarely hear the music but when you do you don't get amazed by it but it is well done all the same.
The whole control setup in this game is very intuitive. At first I was a little disappointed that you couldn't fully configure the right mouse button. But once I started playing the game and got used to the right button being used for the in-game interaction menus I was glad they did force it that way because it works out quite well. As you walk around the world of Hitman, there is always a white dot in the middle of the screen which points to what you are currently facing. Walking towards a door for example causes the white dot to change to show that there is an item you can interact with. Right-clicking will bring down a menu of the type of action you can take, for the door it would be "Open Door". For a dead guard there would usually be two or more options such as "Drag" and "Take Clothes". That's right, you can actually disguise yourself as someone else in Hitman, this is another of the very unique ideas that is implemented well into the game. Take his clothes and drag his body into a corner where it won't be found by other people, it's even more fun then it sounds. Taking out a weapon will change the white dot to a target reticle and the size will vary depending on what weapon you are using. Overall I was very impressed with the way the controls are handled in this game.
In a game like Hitman where stealth and silent attacks are required to move about without attracting unwanted attention the AI has to be great to make it work. Rest assured because the AI is very intelligent in this game. When you move in to kill someone you have to make sure there is nobody around that can see you do it. If a civilian spots you taking someone out they'll get scared and eventually go and tell a nearby guard. This will result in the guards looking out for anyone who looks suspicious. If the person you are trying to kill screams or calls out, nearby guards will also be alerted and the same goes for gun fire. One thing you'll notice right away is that the AI never forgets about you like the guards would do in the Thief games. To elude them you have to change clothes so that you no longer look like the person they are watching out for. This in itself is pulled off very well and sort of gives you a second chance if you make a mistake and the guards start firing. Everytime a gaurd is alerted or someone finds a body you will be notified with alert messages that appear in the top left corner of the screen, this gives you a chance to quickly decide what to do next before someone finds you.
Well as I briefly mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, the game is not without it's flaws. Perhaps the biggest problem is the clipping bug. There were many occasions where guards would walk through doors or walls. It was even worse at times when they spotted me and were trying to track me down. Imagine my surprise when I climbed through an open window thinking I was out of harms way when one officer walks right through the wall and starts shooting at me. Thankfully the whole game isn't plagued by this clipping problem and hopefully it will be fixed up in the first patch. Another thing that really looks ugly is when enemies decide to climb up a ladder, the funny thing here is that the climb animation just doesn't exist. A guard will walk to a ladder and just appear above. This takes away a little from the games realism. Another detail that was somehow missed is that some of the door textures are backwards. The door looks fine when you enter but when you go to walk out you see that the doorknob is on the wrong side. This doesn't affect the game in any way but it's very noticeable and I find it strange that something like that could have been missed. One other thing worth mentioning is that the game has no in-game save feature. For the first few missions this is no big deal as the levels are fairly short but during the longer and harder levels you'll wish that a save option had been implemented. On the bright side you do get 2 retries if you die but the disadvantage here is that the guards will still be looking for you so in most cases you're better off restarting. These are problems/issues that I have noticed while playing through more than half of the game. Don't let these problems turn you away from trying out the game however, they've had no efect whatsoever on the amount of fun I'm having playing through it.
I really hated having to list those bad points about Hitman, but the good far outweighs the bad points and I'm sure most if not all of those issues will be resolved with the first patch. If the game had to have been in development for a few weeks longer it would've been perfect. Fans of Thief shouldn't even be reading this review, they should be playing the game right now, and gamers looking for something fresh and original to play will also want to check this one out. With each mission allowing the player to choose more than just one way to complete objectives adds a lot of replay value to the title. It isn't possible to explain in a review just how fun the game really is. It's one of those titles that absolutely must be played, while not perfect it's pretty darn close.
The good points: great graphics and sound, excellent AI, many different ways to complete a mission, extremely fun and enjoyable to play
The bad points: no in-game save feature, a few bugs like the clipping problem that should've been cleared up before shipping
Review by Mark Dillon
Video Gamer Guy