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Hitman: Contracts

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Action

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PS2 Preview - 'Hitman: Contracts'

by Geson Hatchett on March 31, 2004 @ 1:35 a.m. PST

Genre : Action
Publisher: Eidos
Developer: IO Interactive
Release Date: April 20, 2004

Pre-order 'HITMAN: Contracts': Xbox | PC | PlayStation 2

You can tell a game’s going to be a head-trip when it starts your character off in a mental facility-slash-hotel that’s in the process of being overrun by SWAT--and all of them are after you.

At the beginning of the game, Number 47, our “hero”, is ambushed, drugged, and put into this (literally) crazy place. The only way he can find out the whole story, and get himself some justice, is to escape, fulfill his kill contracts, and deal with his inner demons and repressed memories coming back to haunt him. No problem--it’s all in a day’s work for a bald guy with a barcode imprinted on the back of his skull.

The premise behind Hitman: Contracts seems quite simple and clear at first: find bad guy. Kill bad guy. Get out. Do all of this without being noticed. That’s right—not “seen”, but “noticed.” You will be seen; most places are very much populated, to the point where “tactical espionage action” is a laughable option. You’ve got to launch yourself into the thick of the crowd, and have all of it blissfully unaware of what you were sent in to do.

To do this, you have to dress the part, do it well, and do it often. You wouldn’t go into a meat locker with an AK-47 and starched suit, for example. Plus, there’s security at the door. What to do? Find a hapless butcher, take him out, borrow his clothes, throw away your guns. You’ll find more inside; or if you’re in a pinch, hey, that guy was packing a handy meathook. Why not? Sooner or later, though, you’ll become a suspicious character even in your butcher costume, and will have to do some light sneaking and grab another disguise before everyone knows your face, and the search for your target comes to an abrupt end at the hands of armed guards.

When you’re allowed to, however (and there are plenty of times you are) this game gives you lots of ways to get your kill on: twin pistols, silenced pistols, sniper rifles, poison syringes, automatics, blades, and, uh… stabby things. Some are found just lying around; many are the spoils of killing guards (or innocents). When your cover is blown--or if you just didn’t do a good enough job of establishing it--these and your wits will be the only things available to get you out of a tight spot. Use them wisely, for once you’re found out, the odds of your survival go from good to horrific as you’re quickly outnumbered in mere seconds. Hitman is not Metal Gear, but it’s just as unforgiving.

Graphics here aren’t much of an issue. This game looks good. It’s not perfect, due to the nature of the game (chances are, if you’re not mingling in crowds, you’re fighting them off, and that’s a lot of polygon models for the PS2 to play with), but as I always say: if you can tell who or what everything is, and your eyes don’t hurt, then for all intents and purposes, a game looks good. Blood spurts, the character models are as detailed as possible, and the environments are rich and detailed. It’s easy to lose yourself in the game’s world.

That Hitman sure walks real funny though, let's hope IO Interactive get a chance to tweak that a bit in the final product.

The soundtrack is a nice mix of ambience and background music. At one point the dominant noise will be that of a rainstorm; another time, it will be your hollow footsteps inside a chilly meat locker; still another time, you’ll be attempting to chase down your target (and fending off his defenders) to the tune of thumping, suspenseful and action-oriented background music. It all does its best to add an amount of psychotic atmosphere to match the current state of Number 47’s life.

The two things that stand out about this title so far are its difficulty (it’s quite high, and much like R-Type, you either do things perfectly, or you don’t at all), and the fact that the control scheme suffers when ported from a PC keyboard-and-mouse setup, but there is still some time to get that configured properly, positive thinking mode on. Still, this game looks to be an incredibly enjoyable romp, blending your wits with your trigger finger.

Hitman: Contracts is let loose on April 20th. Track it down. Don’t make it come after you.


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