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Now then, where was I... yes, Hitman: Contracts. It's the third game in Hitman-series, where you play a bald guy with a barcode in his neck assassinating people. One has to wonder how nobody ever suspects anything, him being big, bald, always wearing leather gloves and having a frickin' barcode tattoeed on to him. Artificial stupidity, indeed. If you haven't played any Hitman-games before, let me just say this - if you plan on playing all the games, start with Codename 47 and then just work your way up from there, it's pretty hard to go back to the old games after the masterpiece that is Blood Money. As stated above, the objective of the games is quite simple - you usually have to assassinate a person or few in quite elaborate ways, and then leave the scene in one piece. When I say assassinate, you may think of Assassin's Creed, which is a little false image, though playing it like that is also possible from time to time, but more often this means things like dropping a chandelier on the target, changing a prop gun to a real gun, using a sniper rifle and so on. You'll usually have to wear disguises to get around places, as civilians aren't allowed to go everywhere. When disguised, one should proceed with caution and act according to their disguise - it would be quite strange to see a guard carrying a bag of meat around, for example.
So, let's start then. Contracts is quite a solid effort, and I only encountered one bug during playing the single player campaign, which forced me to cheat my way to Silent Assassin-rank. It doesn't seem to happen to everyone, though, so that's a good sign. The AI is much better than in Silent Assassin or Codename 47, and doesn't see through your disguise as soon as you take one step into wrong direction. There are some stupidities and miracle-sights every now and then, but they are tolerable and rare. Graphics are, I'd say, quite good for a game from 2004, though there isn't any widescreen hacks that I know of. Gameplay is solid, and even though you aren't supposed to go through the game guns ablaze, it's quite fun to do so if your cover gets blown and you just can't be arsed to reload. Oh, did I mention that your saves per level are restricted according to your difficulty? I found this solution quite odd, but on the other hand, it works quite good and lays emphasis on taking notice of what is important. Soundscape is superb, and it's quite a shame that Jesper Kyd won't be composing music for Hitman: Absolution. He also did musics for Assassin's Creeds, though I think he was better at Hitmans. Anyways, good composer.
It should be noted that even though the game is usually mentioned to be stealth-action game, it's more of a puzzle game, even though quite morbid at that one. I'll break down how you play levels usually:
- Open up the map, find the targets and places of interest
- Take notice of the guards' movements as well as target(s)' movements
- Investigate what you can under your starting suit
- Gain a disguise to investigate more
- Decide your preferred method of killing the target
- Kill the target, and make your way to the exit
And here's the thing, there are usually multiple ways to kill your target, though in Blood Money the freedom was amped up to the second power. For example, you could kill your target in one of the following ways - drown him in the swimming pool, poison his drink, lock him up into sauna and increase the heat to cause heart attack, shoot him, strangle him, beat him, drop a chandelier on him, place a bomb on his suitcase and so forth. It's just beatiful.
All in all, it's a good game, but Contracts is greatly overshadowed by its sequel Blood Money. It's a nice touch thoug that Contracts has some remade maps/missions from Codename 47. Took me back in time, and also the fact that the levels are now better was really nice. So, in conclusion - if you haven't played Hitman-games and are interested to play, this is as good to start as any. If you have played other Hitmans, Contracts is more of the same goody stuff you've come to expect. And speaking of goody, what do you think of Absolution, will it turn OK or will it be a horrible disappointment?