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Hitman: Codename 47

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: IO Interactive
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Third Person Shooter/ Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The world of Hitman is wonderfully realized, sometimes at the expense of frame-rate. There’s something to be said for the well-articulated character designs, the elaborate locations that mirror real life, and the city streets that you can run around or sneak through. The art style of the game isn’t particularly amazing, but the little touches crop up here and there -- the barcode on the back of the main character’s head, a few of the levels, some of the cooler characters. It’s all very nice-looking, and certainly engrossing.

The sound isn’t quite up to that mark, but it’s solid nonetheless. The sound effects are what you’d expect from the various weaponry available to you, plus the usual footsteps and “ambient” sounds. The music is there, but it’s nothing particularly spectacular; a mix of techno and tribal which, while certainly not irritating, doesn’t particularly pump you up. The voice acting, on the other hand, is surprisingly solid. There’s quite a bit of dialogue in the game, although a good deal of it is “hidden” -- you have to do certain things to trigger it. The actors are generally not over-the-top, and it makes for a solid-sounding experience.


Gameplay:

And if it weren’t for the almost ridiculously high difficulty level and lack of in-game saves that Hitman: Codename 47 sports, we’d have a solid winner on our hands here. As it is, if you’re willing to fight the hard, long fight, you’ll find an entertaining game. But hardcore gamers only need apply.

You’re, err, 47, a man with no discernible past and only one mission in life -- pulling off hits. Every “level” in the game gives you some objective -- kill this guy, kill all of these guys, run like hell. Whatever. You’re given an overview of the mission, information on every important person you may need to “take care of,” and an overview map. You can also purchase equipment with money you’ve received from previous hits -- not all of the weapons are available at a given time, and it’s very important to pick a proper load-out for a mission.

Once you’ve actually started the game, you’ll find yourself in an over-the-shoulder Tomb Raider-style view. After tinkering with the default keys a little, you’ll find yourself controlling the game rather like Quake.

Give it up.

Hitman is about stealth. Hitman is about precision. And, more often than I’d like, Hitman is about luck. The wide variety of situations, characters, and weapons make for a mind-boggling bevy of “solutions” to the level, and some are a hell of a lot easier to manage than others. Finding the right solution may be a matter of repetitious trial-and-error attempts, and the lack of in-level saves becomes a real pain in the ass after you’ve died ten times trying to get past an area. You can generally continue once after you’ve died, but it costs money you can’t afford to waste and you’ll generally get wiped out by the enemies again.

Once you figure out the right way to do the hit, though, Hitman shows its style. There’s something darkly elegant about an assassination gone right, and the game has enough short in-game cinemas to keep it all interesting. There are so many things you can do -- change your clothes, drag bodies into holes and watch them flop down into them, snipe -- that you may feel overwhelmed. And it is overwhelming. But after scouting it out and dying three or four or twenty times, you can figure it out and make it all go down the way you want it.

And that’s what being a hitman is all about.


Difficulty:

This game is hard. It veers terribly close to impossible, even on the easiest of three difficulty settings you pick when you start the game. The harder ones are just that much more difficult. The casual gamer may get past the first level or two, but once you hit the harder missions, it's hellishly difficult. The challenge is artificially exacerbated by the lack of in-level saves, which is a bummer.

But once you figure out what you've got to do... revenge on a level you've spent days trying to beat is sweet.


Game Mechanics:

The default controls are workable, but they should be tweaked to change the “turn” keys to “strafe” keys like any good game. You use the mouse to look around anyway, so there’s no real need for keys that turn you. The right-click menus take a little getting used to as well, as you use them to interact with doors, items, and whatnot, but they’re simple enough to navigate when you learn how. The core game mechanics are solid, with a wonderful physics engine that simulates dead bodies like no one’s business and some cool firefights and sniper hits. The camera angle is bothersome at times, but it’s usually manageable. The menus, such as they are, are clear and understandable.

Hitman: Codename 47 is a hard game. It’s not for the faint of heart, both because of the realism and the level of challenge. In-level saves would have helped eliminate some of the tension. As such, for those of you who are willing to devote days to a game to get past a single area, Hitman: Codename 47 is a winner. It’s got style, fun, and a hell of a challenge. But for the more casual gamers out there, you may want to steer clear of the steep vertical curve of Hitman’s difficulty.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



PII 300, 64MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, 3D Card with 8MB VRAM, 400 MB HD Space, mouse, sound card
 

Test System:



AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256 MB RAM, 6X/24X DVD-ROM, Sound Blaster Live!, Creative Labs TNT2 Ultra w/32 MB RAM

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated