Review: Hitman: Contracts

Hitman: Contracts

Platform: PC
Developer: Io-Interactive
Publisher: Eidos
Players: 1

This is the third installment in the Hitman series. Based around stealthy game play, the goal is to infiltrate and exterminate designated targets. The environments are great with impressive details in objects and atmosphere. However, in an attempt to make the game more ‘open ended’, levels are often rambling with no reward for exploration. For a game built around ‘stealth’, there is little to no reward (aside from the statistical display at the end of each level) for making it through levels like a Silent Assassin. Often, most levels can easily be waded through by treating this as a third person shooter, blasting your way through enemies from A to B. It’s rather disappointing spending an hour or more on a level, sneaking around and stealing uniforms to get past guards to get to your target, only to realize you could have blazed right through the middle, shooting everyone and clearing the level in 5 minutes.

Some kind of reward (or penalty) system should have been implemented to keep this game closer to the ‘stealth game play’ that was intended. For more experienced gamers who will choose the most difficult setting, forget it. Hours of frustrating repetition are in store since highest difficulty basically equals no saves at all (and enemies kill you easily). So a trial and error (and repeat) approach soon replaces any kind of ‘game play’. Which is a shame since the core ideas here are great.

Killing a cop by choking him out with a fiber wire, dragging his corpse behind a box, then stealing his uniform to walk nonchalantly past scores of other cops to get closer to your target definitely creates some tense moments of game play. And nothing is more frustrating than doing a series of kills with the upmost stealth to get far into the level, only to have a guard turn around (or most commonly, the code that allows you to ‘choke out’ an enemy glitches at the last second causing your character to swipe right by the victims head, which alerts them, blows your cover and now you get to start the whole level over again.

If that sounds fun to you, go for it. Otherwise, take a clue and get the previous installment of this series Hitman 2: Silent Assassin which was more streamlined and offering a more coherent overall game. The frustration level of Hitman: Contracts and its pointless, open ended levels, no saves on the hardest difficulty and the lack of rewards for the stealth game play outweighs the cool graphics and ideas that do work well.