Retro Monday – “Hitman: Contracts”

Title: “Hitman: Contracts”

Produced By: IO Interactive

Published By: Eidos Interactive

Released: 20th April 2004

A new Hitman game has been cancelled so it seems relevant to talk about one of the past games. But which one? “Absolution” and “Blood Money” are too recent for my liking. I have never played the first one (“Codename 47”) and it’s been a long while since I played or even had “Silent Assassin.”  So “Contracts” it is then.

From the off, I have to say that I have not finished “Contracts,” although I did get to the last mission. The main reason why I didn’t finish the game was that I am terrible at Hitman games. Being stealthy is fine. I love stealth games like “Thief.”  But the Hitman series sometimes uses what I like to call ‘moon logic’ and much trial and error. Knowing the sequence of events to get a ‘silent assassination’ is bizarre. One sequence for a very early mission is:

Change consumes to the dead meat packer (hehehe… sorry.) at your feet, drop all your weapons except one pistol, walk into to the kitchen via the back/side entrance, pick up the poison when no one is looking, put the poison into  some food, put your gun into a roast chicken, go to the locker room and change into a waiter, take the food to your target, get padded down on the way (why you had to put the gun in the chicken), give the target the poisoned food, leave before the guy dies so you’re not noticed. The gun in the chicken i a precaution. If stuff goes bad, shoot people with the chicken.

Before you complain, yes there are many ways to complete missions, but there is a points system based on stuff like  how many people you knock out, how many shots your fired, if you were noticed and how you kill the target. And frankly, my way of stealthing to the roof, knocking out the roof guards unnoticed, then shooting the target in the face through a skylight and leaving by only walking is just as stealthy! One shot fired, never noticed, the guards (after a few days in hospital) are totally unharmed and the target is definitely dead after he flew 6 feet across the room via the inside of his own head. In Hitman, there is only one sequence of events that nets the most points and the highest ranking. I’m that ball-mental that I care about that stuff. There is finishing a game to the point when the credits roll. Then there is finishing a game to the point where I look at the box years from now and have PTSD-style flashbacks and twitches about the lost hours, cleanliness, friends and brain cells it took from me.

Then there are the missions where the game gives me a shotgun. Can you be stealthy with a shotgun? I just see some one, pull the trigger and the person I am shooting at has flown to the next continent. One level felt like a zombie game. Level 47 was wandering around an English-esqe country house with a 12-guage, double barrel shotgun while dressed as the grounds-man. Enemies would appear and go ‘blehhh’ by shooting me. The ‘blehh’ of gunfire would swiftly be followed by moistening of my undergarments and the enemy be projected against the house lawn. When I say ‘projected,’ I mean rag-dolled at (at least) 40 miles-per-hour across a vaguely grass-like floor texture. It was on the PS2.

Saying that, the game is very film-like. Very Hollywood. For example, the default handguns that 47 has make people fly across the room when you shoot them.  So the flying projectile rag-dolls were most of the enemies you shot at while not just being confined to the ones you used hand-held cannons on. While it is awesome, it is hardly realistic. Well, the game is about the last of a super-human creation program that decides to be a hitman for an organization whose logo is reminiscent of the old MI5 insignia. The film on the other hand was very Hollywood but just not good. At all.  (Olyphant was good, the directing and writing was ‘ehhhmm.’ The fault goes to… Fox).

Contracts” on the whole is that odd sort of self-congratulatory style game. The whole game consists of replaying old missions from previous games with enhanced AI and cleaner graphics. So, in a way, it is like “Call of Duty.” But it was one of the last for Eidos to release so it was (kinda) an ‘Eidos Years’ send-off and celebration.

And while I whine about the point system, pulling off a ‘silent assassination’ feels awesome. Even if you have to go to GameFAQs for every step you take.

Most stealth games are much more simplified then they have been in previous generations. Hitman was a game series that prided itself in the stealth of the series. Modern incarnations of Hitman (“Absolution”) are more linier so they have a more straight forward progression. But it’s not as fun. An open level where you can choose between going in stealthily, (stealing costumes and using poison) or not, (the ‘no one leaves alive’ or the ‘you see my face, you die’ rules depending on how I woke up that morning) is more fun then the leading-by-the-nose, ‘you must do this,’ linier levels. It isn’t the best example of how to make open stealth games but it is an example none the less.

The ‘moon logic’ still sucks.

Retro Score: 3.5/5

Modern Score: 2.5/5

Want more Wil? He now has a Torch YouTube Channel and does video type things. Check of the channel at: www.youtube.com/user/wilofthetorch

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