Posted: February 24
I've been a long-time fan of this series since the first installment by Eidos, Hitman: Codename 47. It's gotten a lot better with each subsequent installment, and this is no exception.
This game defines what it means to use stealth. Much like Splinter Cell, or Thief, this game rewards you for your patience, and puts it to the test with each stage. The game isn't particularly long either, with each mission area being fairly short, with minimal objectives to complete, but it's the time it takes to wait for that guard to finish his route, or the two civilians holding a conversation to move along that makes the game long and enjoyable.
The game's basic plot is you're given a mission to eliminate an Agency rat and through the act of actually getting to your target, you learn there's something bigger at play, and you defy your commanding officer, setting a string of events in motion that will put your will to the test.
You're thrown into the game with a minimalistic prologue/tutorial that tells you the basics of sneaking around and causing distractions, killing, subduing, hiding bodies, etc... and then before the mission is over, you're introduced to the rating system. A system that awards points for positive actions (objectives, hiding bodies, evidence, silent kills, etc...) and penalizes you for naughty actions (getting spotted, killing/pacifying non targets, killing civilians, etc...). The goal is to maximize your score on each mission by completing challenges and completing your objectives in a multitude of (creative) ways. The best rating you can get on a mission is Silent Assassin, whereby you complete all your objectives only killing your intended target(s), and not getting spotted. This is the most difficult to pull off, but it makes it all that much more fun. The multiple challenges that you can complete are also presented in such a way that it requires multiple passes through a mission before you can claim them all (many are mutually exclusive), so the incentive is to keep thinking of new ways to win. The one downside to this system though, is that when you complete a challenge, it stays for good, so reloading a checkpoint is enough to give you the credit to complete the other challenges without a full playthrough.
The missions are tough and well scripted. The dialog and the musical score is top notch, though there are some lines that are pretty corny. The character cast is great and it can be sometimes hard to follow who's who, but they are all likeable (or dispicable). The game offers a wide spectrum of difficulty, whereby the harder you go, the tougher (and more plentiful) the enemies get, the more aware they are, and you get to use less of your "instinct", a skill that allows you to see interactive objects and enemy trails, as well as the ability to blend in using a disguise. The hardest difficulty is the toughest enemies, highly reactive, and no interface. The only other game I've seen that done with is Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (another great game). Good luck 47!
It also sports a contract mode, which is sort of like on-line competition where you complete user-created contract missions for money to increase your stats. It's a pretty slick system.
Check this game out, you won't be disappointed.