With Hitman: Absolution releasing in just nine days, I figured it was time to go back and explore the history of the Hitman series (If I can manage contain my excitement!). I do not plan to go into detail about the real story in any of the games, but to simply give a brief overview. If you are interested in games that grant an incredible feeling of accomplishment at the cost of some patience and ingenuity; I highly recommend the entire series.
The series mechanics revolves being a Hitman, just as the title would suggest. Acquiring disguises, infiltration, hiding bodies, creating "accidents", are some of the many aspects of the game play. The series is known for being open to the player to decide how best to complete and objective. Want to go in guns blazing? Sneak in as the chef and poison the targets food? Snipe the target from across the way? Sneak into the party dressed as a clown and blow the whole place sky high? Its entirely up to you! But be weary, sloppy performance and unnecessary kills affect your rating and final payout (How else to bribe all those witnesses and cleanup all that blood).
HITMAN: CODENAME 47
The series started with the release of Hitman: Codename 47 on November 19th, 2000 on Windows PCs. Developed by the Danish developer IO Interactive and published by Edios Interactive. Codename 47 introduces us to the protagonist of the series: Agent 47. Agent 47 (Also referred to as Mr. 47) is a clone created by Prof. Dr. Otto Wolfgang Ort-Meyer; a discredited scientist whose ideas about cloning where labeled insane by his peers.
Dr. Ort-Meyer set up a mental institution as a cover for his genetic experiments. In the said lab he created 47 and many other clones; all bald with a bar code tattooed on their heads designating their number. His goal was to create an army of obedient super soldiers. When 47 found out about this plan; he went rouge, destroyed the lab, and snapped Ort-Meyer's neck.
Upon his escape 47 was hired by the European contract killing organization known as the ICA (International Contract Agency). Most of the games to date have 47 doing assignments for large amounts of money in return. After the escape, the game focuses on those said assignments.
An interesting note is its use of rag-doll physics, which at the time was pretty unique. Few titles had yet evolved to use such a system, so at the time it was pretty awesome. Another highlight is the music. The amazing Jesper Kyd composed the soundtrack and its pretty good. Not the best in the series in my opinion, but still noteworthy. You may have also heard his work in such titles as Assassin's Creed, Borderlands, Darksiders 2, and the awesome (but exceptionally difficult) Sub-Terrania for the Sega Genesis.
HITMAN 2: SILENT ASSASSIN
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is the second game in the series. It was released on September 30th, 2002 for the Xbox, October 1st, 2002 for Windows and Playstation 2, and June 19th, 2003 for the GameCube. This marks the first multi-platform entry in series and included a more heavy reliance on stealth than the first game, which utilized a more action based approach. Also improved where the graphics, sound, and the environments; which where much more dynamic than the first.
The story follows Agent 47 on a quest for peace. He has given up the assassin life and has moved to a church in Sicily as a gardener for Father Vittorio; his mentor and best friend. Vittorio is aware of 47's sins via confession, but believes he is a good man at heart. Vittorio gets kidnapped and a ransom note is left for 47. At this point 47 goes back to his old job to track down the Father.
The sequel contains far fewer bugs and is slightly more accessible to new players. Those uninitiated to the life of a professional however, still may find the game frustrating due to its design. The series to date is largely about trial and error, requiring that the player test the boundaries a bit. Also the AI can be a bit twitchy and paranoid, requiring a certain finesse. Jesper Kyd returns so the music department is also quite excellent.
Hitman: Contracts is the third game, and was the game that introduced me to the Hitman series. It was released on April 20th, 2004 for Windows, Xbox, and Playstation 2. The visuals and audio are slightly better than those in the previous installment. Most of the missions are remakes from Codename 47 and it seems more like an expansion than a full fledged experience. It does, however, have more advanced AI and improved maps (Of the ones from Codename 47).
The story begins with 47 stumbling through a dark corridor wounded. After going through a hotel room door he collapses to the floor and you start playing flashbacks of his previous hits.
The added polish that is applied to the overall experience makes this entry defiantly worth a play through in my book; especially if you didn’t get around to playing Codename 47. Which honestly is pretty dated now, so if your a new age gamer and the first one is just a little aged for you Contracts is a pretty good way to experience those missions. Now on to my favorite entry in the series so far...
HITMAN: BLOOD MONEY
Blood Money is my favorite in the series so far and the one I've spent the most time with. In fact I just recently replayed it to prepare for Absolution. Released on May 26th, 2006 for Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360, and Playstation 2; Blood Money boasted many new features such as:
* Much better graphics (A much more advanced version of the engine overall)
* Better animations
* The ability to climb many more obstacles (Drain pipes, fences, into windows, etc.)
* Improved unarmed combat
* The ability to take hostages, use them as a human shield, and use your weapon to knock them unconscious.
* The ability to dispose of bodies into container or hazards (Such as throwing them overboard)
* Every mission has the option of making the targets death look like an accident, greatly increasing your rating and payout
* The ability to use your money to upgrade your weapons and equipment.
* A notoriety system. If 47 is caught on camera or seem committing a murder then his notoriety will rise between 0 and 100. The higher it is the more likely and faster it will be for people to notice him. You have the option after the mission to pay bribes to bring the level back down.
There are many other features that I didn’t list due to it getting a bit long. But you have the Internet: you can look it up. I recommend this title most not only because its all around awesome, but also because it the most recent; the game play still holds up really well and is the most accessible of all the titles.
Ill admit, the story is not the strongest it could be. It starts with a journalist named Rick Henderson interviewing the former FBI director "Jack" Alexander Leland Cayne concerning a recent attack on the White House when Jack tells the journalist the real reason he is here; Agent 47. The missions are flashbacks initiated by the two conversing about 47's role in various cases. By then end though it suits the game just fine and doesn't hurt it in any way.
Blood Money is the last Hitman game published by Edios Interactive and, unfortunately, the last title to feature the awesome music composed by Jesper Kyd. It really is a shame that they just kinda dropped him from the project. The music in Blood Money was simply perfect and really set the tone for the game. David Bateson, the voice actor and the person who 47 was modeled after was almost dropped too from the next installment, but I suppose they came to their senses and realized that they couldn’t do it without him (Well at least without alienating the fans). So at the last minute (Just last August of this year) they brought him back. Its a shame Jesper wont be returning.
Now here we are today, with the latest installment just around the corner. Hitman: Absolution will be released November 20th, 2012. Just nine (Painfully long) days away from now. It will be released on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Windows. From what Ive seen and heard from some insiders, Its amazing. I simply cannot wait. I've been writing for some time now (Its already 3:40am!?) so I really don't feel like explaining all the new features, so I will put some awesome trailers and videos from YouTube here instead.
Get your suit, fiber wire, silverballers, and take some contracts. After all, You're a professional.
Now the Absolution Videos: