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June 26, 2004
Hitman: Contracts - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
14/5/2004EidosIo Interactive1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
499KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneNo

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In the pool of blood.
Agent 47 is back in Hitman: Contracts, the third installment of the popular silent assassin series. Many fans of the first two games have been eagerly awaiting this title and due to the overwhelming brilliance of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, this game had very big shoes to fill. Ever since Metal Gear Solid revolutionized stealth gaming with itsí addictive style, breathtaking graphics, suspense driven sound and awesome storylines we as gamers have been treated with a mixed bag of try hard attempts from other developers. Io Interactive however have hit the mark with this series but has Contracts hit a brick wall?

For those of you who are new to the series, you play a hitman (agent 47 - who incidentally lacks in the hair department) and your main aim is to assassinate a number of henchmen by any means possible without getting caught. Contracts is made up of 12 missions located all over the world and after completing each stage youíre brought back to these random flashbacks that in the end show why youíve been hired to be this hitman.

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Using the knife.
The first thing I noticed about Hitman: Contracts, apart from the bizarre first escape mission, was the blurry cut-scenes. Iím not sure whether this was done deliberately to create that feeling of disorientation but it continued throughout the game and well the graphics I felt werenít that much of a marked improvement from Hitman 2.

However the open-ended style of game-play is surely the real winner from this title. Gone are the days where the only way to succeed is just the one method. In Contracts you can become a ďSilent AssassinĒ on each level to earn yourself a free weapon or device to use for the next level(s). Although difficult to pull off itís something special to aim for each time. However you can also choose to annihilate the enemies by rampaging through to your target but beware in this game if you alert the guards they quadruple in number very quickly Ė before you know it there maybe up to 50 personnel after you at any one time. When the guards are alerted to your identity the best thing to do is to change your identity by swapping clothes with a dead victim of yours. However I found this to be quite annoying because they would spot your new appearance quickly if you run or act suspicious around the guards.

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Adequate, but not great graphics.
The enemy AI is very poor in Hitman: Contracts. Your health is quite forgiving and the guards (once alerted) can be seen coming towards you on an extensive (but rather amateurish) looking map which details the whole level but looks like it was designed by a ten year old. (No offence to our young gamers.) Anyway you can aim in the general direction of a guard and they will die instantly but other times your frustrated as you canít seem to kill a guard that is only metres away until you lose almost all your health. In some levels the guards are more aware than others. Sometimes you can walk right by them without them getting suspicious, while other times they will see your disguise from a mile away and start firing at you.

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Nice atmospheric lighting.
Repetition is also a word that describes the types of levels on offer. From very early on you begin to notice a similar pattern. Each mission has a couple of people to assassinate and perhaps another goal like planting explosives and blowing something up. Poisoning, choking or death by sniper seem to be favorites of mine but I found myself repeating these tactics throughout the game. However it is the type of game I will return to and experiment other things. Did I mention I liked the game-play? The 12 missions are relatively long and took me about on average just over an hour each to complete. Iíd imagine when I play this game again it will take me less than half the time.

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Agent 47 with the pistol.
Hitman: Contracts, to be expected, has a very dark and gloomy feel to itsí soundtrack. One of the strengths of the title is the atmosphere it sets with the gamer. You immediately feel like youíre being hunted and every footstep is crucial in not being detected by the enemy. What I liked was that the mission briefing was optional when you pressed select and the voice over wouldnít just read all the notes but just what you needed to hear.

With only a few new weapons, and an unnoticeable difference in graphics, I was pretty disappointed with Hitman: Contracts as it failed to improve as much as Hitman 2 did over the original. I feel Io Interactive rushed this title and didnít put enough thought into making the levels different enough. Overall Iíll play it again but thatís only because Iím a fan but definitely try before you buy this one.

Review By: Allen Wager

GRAPHICSExpected much more. It's okay but could have been so much better.
72%
SOUNDSurround sound gives great suspense and atmosphere.
82%
GAMEPLAYOpen-ended style keeps you interested, however AI was a bit dodgy.
78%
VALUEAbout 15 hours to complete, open-ended gameplay allows a replay.
80%
OVERALLHitman: Contracts is a solid game but I felt that Io have taken a step backwards in their development of this series. Lets hope that this isnít the last and they can actually improve as the idea and concept is still a winner.
79%

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