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Score: 7.2 / 10
Don’t try to slide this barcode through
your local supermarket counter – it will only make him angrier. That’s
right kiddies, the shiny bald head and balers are back for some more
The first two Hitman games were among the few innovative titles in the
action/adventure genre. Hitman: Contracts, the third installment of the
series, doesn’t do much in terms of “innovation”, but makes sure to fine
tune every aspect that made the first two Hitman titles instant
The story of Hitman: Contracts is hazy as the game starts off, but after
each mission bits and pieces of the story are fed to you through
cinematics. You realize early on that the missions you are playing are
flashbacks from Agent 47’s memory.
From strip clubs to cargo planes – you’ll
be transported to a number of distinct locations.
There’s an old saying: “If it aint broke, don’t fix it,” and the
developers seem to have embraced this. The gameplay of Hitman: Contracts
is no different that the last two versions – aside from a few minute
details, there doesn’t seem to be anything different. This is rather
all of the hype surrounding the new game.
Movement, shooting, and performing actions are all done through the same
interface, and even more sadly, same animations. What is new is the 1st
person camera angle. The last Hitman attempted this and made the
gameplay rather blotchy, but Contracts fixes the camera angle and makes
it fun. While the 3rd person angle is best used for hiding in shadows
and watching your victims, the 1st person camera works best for bolting
through a door and shooting everything.
Regardless the lack of gameplay innovation, Hitman: Contracts creates
one of the best artificial environments in any videogame. Veterans of
the series know that each mission is filled with civilians, buildings,
and other objects that are for the most part intractable. Hitman:
Contracts keeps all of that intact while taking it a step further. Every
mission can be accomplished a variety of ways. Similar to the Splinter
Cell franchise, the player can choose when to use firearms and when to
keep it basic and play hide-and-seek. The lighting and shading effects
have been vastly improved over the last two Hitman games, while the
overall graphics of the game are relatively the same as Hitman 2 (and a
bucket of gore more).
On the subject of graphics, it seems the IO interactive team followed
the same “If it ain't broke, don’t fix it” maxim. If both Hitman 2 and
Hitman: Contracts were running side-by-side, it would be almost
impossible to tell the two apart. I was very disappointed in this as
well and hope that if the series plans to survive, Eidos needs to make
sure the path of Hitman isn’t the same as the one Lara Croft took.
One area of the game that received major attention was sound. Composed
by the award-winning Jesper Kyd (Freedom Fighters, Brute Force, and
Hitman 2), Hitman: Contracts music will keep you on your heels at all
times. Through dark corners you will hear the soft echo of Kyd’s musical
score that is one of the best I’ve ever heard. The general sound of
Contracts is well done, but nothing entirely special. The in-game
conversations with the characters do spark some character out of the
generally quiet Agent 47.
When you get finished with Hitman: Contracts there is no doubt in my
mind that you will be satisfied, although more serious fans of the
series will feel betrayed. Very little was done to make the core game
better, making Hitman: Contracts no more than a highly priced expansion
pack. The missions are a lot of fun to complete, especially with some of
his bigger toys, and the stealth aspects of the game give those who
aren’t a big fan of shooting a different way to complete the mission.
If you do decide to pick up Hitman: Contracts, make sure to do so as a
rental, because once you get through the game once, chances are you
won’t want to go through it a second time.
- Eric Lahiji
(June 6, 2004)