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April 08, 2015

Hitman: Blood Money Full Review


"You got a spare socket for my phone charger?"

Reviewed By: KVR (Head Writer)

Verdict: Mature Gamers Only (For Brutally Violent Content and Frequent Suggestive Material)

Release Date: May 2006

Developer: IO Interactive

Publisher: Eidos Interactive

Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, OnLive

Genre: Stealth



Areas of Concern:

Potential Emotional Triggers:

--Early in the game, a restrained man is set on fire, screaming horribly as he burns to death. This scene is quite upsetting, but can easily be avoided. (7) 

--The assassinations might be a bit upsetting for some, but as the entire game revolves around it, it's not nearly as gruesome as it may seem. However, players are able to kill innocent bystanders and animals, which may upset some. (6)

--The opening scene, which depicts a Ferris wheel exploding and children screaming, can be a bit of an emotional trigger for some. (5)

--A man kills a canary to avoid being detected; this scene may be upsetting due to its shock value. (5)

Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

General Violence:

--We see splashes of blood discolouring environments, with puddles of gore pooling out beneath fallen enemies and blood staining victims of violence. (6)

--Players can use sharp objects to kill characters; blood squirts out, staining the environment, and cries of pain are heard. Your character can slit throats, with a splash of blood and gurgling heard. You can also throw sharp objects at people, which impale them with a ribbon of blood squirting out. (8)

-(Hedge Cutters) Players can impale the scissors through the neck of the victim, blood soaking the blades and spraying out over the environment, gurgling sounds heard as the victim expires.

-You can use a knife against an unsuspecting character and either slit his throat or repeatedly stab him/her in the ribs, both techniques resulting in lots of blood gushing out from the wounds and the victim flailing around in pain. 

--Players can brandish blunt objects for the purposes of inflicting grievous bodily harm upon foes; a meaty thud sound is heard, blood splatters, and cries of pain are heard. (8)

-(Hammer) Players can impale the blunt end into their skulls, with a loud and sickening *crack* sound heard, and blood pouring out from the wound.

-(Baseball Bat) Players can strike them twice against the head, with a fleshy impact sound and blood splattering over the bat.

--Players can wield firearms and use them against enemies and civilians if they desire: Bursts and splatters of blood are shown as the person spasms and flinches realistically. Blood seeps through clothing and cries of pain are heard. (7)

--Players can strangle characters with a garotte: Gurgling is heard as the victim kicks and struggles around against your character, before eventually going limp and dying. (7)

--Players can detonate bombs, which send people flying and kill them instantly. You can also destroy parts of the environment, crushing people underneath with the wreckage. (6) 

Storyline Violence:

--Players can kill a woman by rigging a barbecue, causing it to explode and set her on fire; she runs around for quite some time, screaming, before falling over and dying. We see her charred and bloody corpse afterwards, burned to a dark crisp. (8) 

-Earlier on in the game, an assassin soaks a restrained man in gasoline and lights him on fire; we hear horrible screams from the victim as he writhes around in pain, before finally burning to a crisp and dying. Like the aforementioned woman, we see the charred corpse afterwards. 

--Players can dispose of a man's body in the back of a garbage truck; we see the lid close and hear crunching as the man's body is crushed. (7) 

--Players can kill a man by dropping the bar of a weight on his neck; we hear him choking and see struggling for a couple of seconds, before he dies. (6)  

--Players can poison characters by inserting a needle in their necks; they choke and struggle whilst screaming, before eventually collapsing and dying. Players can also poison their drinks and food, with similar results. (6)

--A man breaks a canary's neck off-screen; we hear the crack. (5) 

--A ferris wheel explodes and falls apart, a huge piece of wreckage crashing down as we hear the screams of children. (5)

Context of Violence: Shock Value

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--We see several posters of scantily clad women, exposing cleavage, buttocks, thighs and abdomen, some of which are posing suggestively in sexual provocative positions. This is shown at several points during the game. (8)

-The "angel outfits" in one level is a very minimalistic outfit, with the woman in question almost naked, except for the small outfit covering her breasts and crotch. 

-We also see a few scantily clad women walking around dressed in bikinis, thongs, or similar suggestive outfits, exposing a lot of skin. The women in the game are also depicted to be highly sexualised, with large busts 

-One level features body shots, with close-ups of midriffs, the underside of breasts, and unclothed buttocks.

-A few scenes showcase scantily clad women performing lap-dances for men, suggestive motions shown. 

-A few overweight women wear very skin-tight dresses, which show the form of their breasts...in detail.

--Verbal references to sex: (8)

-A man is heavily implied to be bisexual and sleeping with several men aboard his lifeboat, making them his "b**ch", and he's stated to be having an incestuous affair with his niece.

-Players can spike a man's drink with an aphrodisiac, sending him and a woman off on a quest to his bedroom. Only a lap-dance is shown, if the player enters their room.

-A reference to a "porn tycoon" having a "compromising video tape" of an important figure "playing a little too rough" with a woman in an "adult nightclub", in a "creative sexual tryst." The woman is mentioned to not have "survived" the encounter.

-A man talks about "unwrapping" a woman and having her "fine a**".

-A man loudly and very enthusiastically exclaims: "I'm going to die of porn. Yes, I said die of it!" Afterwards, he goes upstairs to look at porn. (Scantily clad women shown.)

-A woman tells a pool guy that "the pool isn't the only thing I need serviced", and then invites him upstairs to her bedroom. Nothing happens.

--Two assassination targets (two men who are lovers) are stated to be part of a child prostitution and child pornography ring. (8) 

--We briefly see a man showering in another man's apartment, while the latter relaxes on a bed, stripped down to his underwear, implying a homosexual encounter. (6) 

--Two women are shown "making out" in one level. (Heavy kissing.) It's not clear if they're lovers or doing it for the pleasure of the male guests. (6)

Context of Sex/Nudity: Fanservice

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Infrequent Uses of F**k, S**t, P**sy, B**ch, B**t**d, A*s, C**p, H**l, D**n.

We also hear uses of racial and homophobic slurs, like "cr**ker", "whitebread", "pansy", "hick", and so on.

-God and Jesus' names are used in vain.

Context of Language: Grittiness

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Hitman Blood Money has very overt references to angels and demons. The very first level has a large mask of the devil looming over an area, and later on has demonic figures as part of an engraving. The last true level takes place in a nightclub, one of which is located far up, Heaven, and the other far below, Hell.

Heaven is depicted with a blueish tint, glitter, and ethereal atmosphere. The women in this environment are dressed in scanty outfits and wings, clearly a homage to "angels".

Hell is red, dark, and filled with rather aggressive music. A crowd of people are seen dancing on a club through, violently gyrating to the music. Ghoulish imagery peppers Hell, and several party-goers are dressed as demons and devils, one of which has horns and an upside down cross on his lapel.

The player character, Agent 47, is shown to be Catholic in a prior instalment, and as such, it could be shown that this represents his descent into "Hell" to defeat "evil". However, he also assassinates a few targets in "Heaven", so the symbolism is sketch at best. (8)

--In a hell-themed level, we see several homages to Dante's inferno, and see people dressed as devils and demons. One of them has an upside-down cross on his lapel. (7)

-In the very first level, we see a bedroom with a mural of several screaming faces embedded in the wall and a life-size red devil statue looming over the people below. 

--Several references to Catholicism and several Catholic symbols, like the Virgin Mary, the Crucifix, and so on. (5) 

--In one level, we see a very large neon sign hanging over a building, proclaiming: "Jesus Saves", implying that the building in question is a church. (4)

Context of Spiritual Content: Demonic Symbolism, Catholic References and Imagery

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--We see a man snort cocaine at several points during a mission. We also hear several references to drugs and drug trafficking. Additionally, players are able to sedate characters by using pills and syringes. (7)

--Several people are shown drinking during the game, some to the point of drunkenness. A few characters are shown stumbling around and stammering, clearly drunk. (7)

--Several references to drug trafficking, drugs like cocaine, and so on. Players can sedate characters with pills and syringes. (6)

--Several people are shown smoking throughout the game. (5)

Context of Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco Usage: Shock Value,

Gross Stuff/Gore:
--A man walks into a teenage girl's room, picks up one of her panties and sniffs it deeply, remarking that it's "sweet honey nectar of the gods". (7) 

--At a wedding, a drunken man stumbles around and throws up, fluids shown. (6)

--A few people are shown urinating, with no nudity but with accompanying sound effects clearly heard. (5)
Emotional Scenes:

--A man has a telephone conversation with his estranged wife, at which point she tells him that she's going to divorce him. He breaks down in tears after the phone conversation. (5)
Dialogue/Miscellaneous:

--A gangster straps a man to a rocking horse and brutally threatens (through whispers) to burn the man and graphically describes how his body will crumble up, to which the man replies with screams of protestation. (9)

--A woman makes sexual advances towards a man, saying they should "have some fun", but he says he's "not in the mood, b**ch", and slaps her. (7)

--A man is stated to be both bisexual and having an affair with his niece. The player is tasked to retrieve photos of the latter involvement (not shown) and he openly flirts with you if dressed in a specific outfit. (6) 

--A woman is said to have killed a man who tried to "rape" her and "nailed him to a wall". (6)

--We hear about a theme park accident ending with "body parts and blood everywhere". (6)

Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

The first mission clearly shows your character performing a hit on a clearly remorseful target. The rest of the game doesn't include this kind of moral ambiguity, and most of the killings seem to be "justified" for one reason or another. (Some of the targets are child molesters and drug kingpins, for example.)

However, some targets are killed specifically because of the fact that a third party views them as a threat to their business, and your character has no qualms obliging as long as the "money's good".

Morality Type: Life of Crime, Vigilante Justice

Review of Game:
The finest example of man hitting the world has ever seen. Hitman Blood Money combines stealth gameplay with brutal assassinations to create a compelling and challenging title, despite its rather distracting flaws.
Hitman Blood Money is a mixture of the Stealth and Third Person Shooter genres. Players take on the role of Agent 47, a balding and vaguely European man born with the congenital inability to crack a smile, probably as a result of him being one of several clones. (!!!)

Agent 47 was engineered to be the greatest assassin who ever lived, even though he pretty much moves around like a normal human being throughout most of the missions, acts like one, dresses like one, talks like one, disguises himself as one and dies as easily as one. (???)

Players start off in levels by being given an objective, a target (or two), a suggestion on how to do it, and a wide open level to explore. This may be overwhelming at first, especially when you take the game's high difficulty into account.

Agent 47 can dispatch guards and targets in several ways, the former of which can be strangled, sedated, poisoned, punched, knocked out with a pistol, stabbed, sliced, blown up, or simply by being pushed down the stairs.

Targets can be killed in some of the aforementioned ways, or, if the player so desires, in a variety of cruel and darkly humourous ways. (Being pushed down the stairs always comes to mind.)
Players also have to contend with several rather annoying civilians who like to get in your way and even tell on you when they catch you doing something naughty. (A rather nosy lady in the level "A New Life" will cause you all sorts of problems if you try to sneak into a certain house.)
You can play the game stealthily, sneaking past guards and avoiding being seen, or by choosing to gun everyone down who comes across your path. It's entirely your choice.
But before you get excited about the freedom of play, the game is clearly designed for stealth. The combat seems superfluous, as to appeal to those who see the name "Hitman" and immediately assume that it means they get to be a mass murderer. That is true, you can in fact be a mass murderer and be labeled as such at the end of missions.
However, doing a level stealthily and by only killing the essential targets, bonus points for "making it look like an accident", you earn a much higher ranking and don't have to worry about increased notoriety.
This would have been a great way to play levels all-round, except for the fact that the game's stealth system is somewhat flawed. Unlike other stealth games, it's hard to tell if you're being detected or if there's a guard nearby, and so you have to rely on your own digital senses to figure it out.
The game has a suspicion meter, which has three stages of suspicion, green, yellow, and red, when you're in big trouble. However, it's not uncommon for a single enemy to detect you, and send the suspicion off the charts, only to gradually fall back down to nothing after you silently eliminate the lone enemy, even though you'll probably still be incredibly tense due to believing the entire armed forces of America are descending down upon you for a moment.
Other than that, the levels are highly replayable and enjoyable due to their complexity and care put into the creation of said levels. Each level has its quirks, unique aspects, and reasons to make you come back for more, and not to just to acquire the Silent Assassin rating.
It's sad that the plot doesn't hold up as well as the individual levels. The story is told through a reporter questioning a single character about the activities of Agent 47 throughout the course of the game, leading up to the present, in a manner reminiscent of Citizen Kane. (A much more twisted Citizen Kane but alas.)
The singular focus narrows the story down considerably, making it a rather unmemorable affair.

Still, for what it's worth, Hitman Blood Money is a solid, enjoyable and compelling video game regardless of the lackluster plot, and any misgivings about the plot are gone upon playing the game's many satisfying and richly layered levels.

Quality Verdict: Great (B+)

A lackluster story saved from the bargain bin through stellar levels and creative situations, Hitman Blood Money satisfies even the least skilled players with straightforward yet incredibly challenging gameplay, even in spite of its rather obvious flaws.

Conclusion:

Without further adieu, let's get right to it?

Violence: First thing's first, the violence in this game is not gratuitous, but it is still very strong. Trust me, Embedding a hammer into a someone's skull is not an acceptable pre-meal activity. You may be traumatised to ever drink vegetable soup again, in fact.

The worst acts of violence are the least encouraged ones, like knife and blunt object violence. Players receive hints to cause accidents instead, such as rigging a barbecue, dropping a chandelier on a hapless foe, or pushing an incredibly annoying and overly talkative therapist down the stairs in a futile attempt to silence his constant saccharine sweet offers of therapy.

Seriously, this guy just never stops!

Sex/Nudity: Look, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that a women as endowed as these oddly creepy "beauties" will have trouble even standing up straight, let alone providing lap-dances to unbelievably perverted Johns scattered throughout the empty crevices of environments.

This is particularly distracting in the nightclub level on the "Heaven" floor, which some might find offensive as this contains quite possibly the strongest example of suggestively clad women. This seems to be a rather deliberate choice, however, as if the developers are trying to imply that sexual pleasure is what makes up most of Heaven and eternal happiness.

Hell, of course, has vague S&M overtones and, notably, two women making out for the entertainment of the predominantly male audience. Other than this, however, there is surprisingly little suggestive content. Sure, a woman tries to seduce you, but she's quite poor at her job.

Language: With the exception of the first level, there is very little strong language. Matter of fact, save for the slurs, the language is not very noticeable at all during the runtime of the game.

Spiritual Content: While some may dismiss the symbolism as just "artistic choice", it's quite obvious to me that IO Interactive was aiming for some kind of spiritual statement with the significant allegorical images inserted into the game, especially during the nightclub level.

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking: All of the aforementioned are shown in great detail during the game, but none of them are glorified. Bottles of beer can be poisoned to kill off certain characters, who probably would've died anyway from the alcohol poisoning. 

KVR Notes: Floods of disproportionately busty women crammed into levels and lots of symbolism depicted with the subtlety of a thousand ton sledgehammer, don't really impress the author of this sentence and preceding article who has suddenly decided to irregular structure past sentences. (Meta!)

Furthermore, the subplot of Agent 47 getting a pet canary, which he seems quite found of, was sweet at first, but ended on a bitter note when he rather senselessly killed the bird to avoid being detected by an intruder. Even by 47 standards, this seems to be a bit out of character. 

He is still a human being after all, and can have emotional connections with people, as evidenced by his angry outburst at a betrayal someways into the story of the game.

But I digress. Let's end of this review right here. Hitman Blood Money is certainly not for everyone. It's a game about brutal killings and murder. It also has frequent and often unnecessary suggestive content. Drugs and alcohol are frequently abused, and spiritual content is incredibly prominent throughout the course of the game.

It's safe to say that this title is for Mature Gamers Only.

Verdict: 18+

For Brutally Violent Content and Frequent Suggestive Material

Outro: Never look back, never give up.

Yay, random inspirational messages for the win! I hope that life has been treating you well this week. Let me know what you think of the review, game and conclusion and don't forgot to honestly express your own opinion.

I'll see you guys again in two weeks time with Battlefield Hardline. Phew, this one is going to be a...um...well..."tough"* one. See you then!

*(Yes, yes, okay, it took a lot of strength to not make that incredibly obvious and ridiculously forced pun. Goodbye already! :P)

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