Friday, August 17, 2012

Hitman: Contracts

Another time, another review. I know it's been a while, and I apologize but I've been busy taking care of a few things. Hopefully now, things will get back on schedule again. Anyhow, without further ado, here is another KirbyPink review. Hitman Contracts, the sequel to 2002's Hitman Silent Assassin (which is one of my favorite games of all time). I still consider the Hitman series to be a unique because of the emphasis on blending in with the surrounding environments by wearing disguises. It's not like Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell, where you sneak around extracting information from enemy NPCS. In Hitman, you do things differently. You can either steal a uniform, allowing you to freely move about in the game's environment without having the need to knocking out enemy NPCs, or to go in with guns blazing around (the game encourages players to take the former path). Hitman: Contracts is simply an updated trend of that. 

The game takes place a number of years after Silent Assassin. It's more of an indirect sequel, with next to little connection to the former installment. 47, the protagonist of the Hitman series, is badly wounded inside of a hotel. As he struggles to get up from his badly injured state, he experiences flashbacks of his past missions. Most of these missions are basically remakes of the original game, Hitman Codename 47. Others are original, with missions like the "Meat-Kings party" and "Hunter or Hunted". 

It can be said that Contracts is simply a remake of an older game. 

The storyline, at its basic level, is weak. It consists of nothing but 47 waking up and falling back, waking up and falling back. There are no memorable characters this time around, there is no plot-twist and there's next to little amount of NPC interaction. Even the NPC's themselves feel dull and emotion-less, with them simply staring at one-another with no form of interaction or conversation. This was a problem back in Silent Assassin, but that was mostly because of the different languages the NPC's were speaking in. In Contracts, there was one original level that took place in England. And even this level barely contained any NPC interaction besides two guards speaking to one-another. 

The atmosphere is sufficiently more darker this time around. The original color-filled levels of Silent Assassin has been replaced with rain and night. There are even "dark" filters in levels such as the Meat-Kings party and Rendezvous in Rotterdam. Even the music has been replaced. The original orchestral soundtrack of Silent Assassin has been replaced with dark, ambient, electronic instruments. The game does it's hardest to make players immersed in its dark and gritty atmosphere, but it's laughable at how it does it. The animation movements of NPC's are so hilariously animated, that 47's flashbacks are hard to take seriously. Combine that with no level of interaction, and the flashbacks are incredibly hard to take serious. 

It doesn't work, sorry. 

The game-play is solid enough, if you're into stealth based games. The problem is that when you're trying to sneak around, chances are you'll be caught and cover will be blown. This is because the game encourages players to don NPC disguises and use them to move around in restricted areas. While it may seem like fun and it does work, it just doesn't seem fun. The tension is gone. NPC's will never get suspicious of you running around in your disguise. In Hitman: Silent Assassin, you had to walk. If you ever ran or got close to an enemy guard while in a disguise, you were done for. You always had to be extra-careful when in disguise. In Hitman: Contracts, it's a simple "get a disguise", go into restricted area and complete objective. 

The horrible level design didn't make any more fun either. Everything is so bland looking, that the wonderful color palette of  Silent Assassin is washed away by dark filters and rain. It's hard to appreciate artistic level design when they are being hidden by an enormous amount of rain and dark filters. We get that the game is dark, gory and whatnot, but couldn't the designers make at least one level where some shades of color were present? The original Silent Assassin had levels that looked artistic and colorful, and had loads of variety too. One mission may have had 47 having to trespass through an underground Russian tunnel, while another mission may involved him infiltrating a party. In Contracts, it's always the same with little to no variety. It will always been grey filtered looking areas. Hell, even the textures are reused a lot. 

On top of all that, the length of the game is short. Very short actually. The original Silent Assassin had over 20 missions to play, all with unique design and variety. Hitman Contracts has only 12 missions, with each of them being almost similar looking to one-another. It took me only 1 day to beat Hitman Contracts, that's how short it is. And believe me, I actually managed to get Silent Assassin rating on every mission in Contracts. 

Despite all its horrendous flaws, Contract is still a fun, decent stealth game. It's not long, and it's not great. It's not even good actually. Thankfully all the problems in Contracts were later fixed and corrected in Hitman: Blood Money, which went back to the standards set by Silent Assassin. Overall, Contracts feels like a regress in the series. It's basically the weakest installment, the one to avoid. Hitman: Silent Assassin is better, and Hitman: Blood Money is better. Contracts is simply the emo-child at the dinner table whom no-one likes. The final rating of Contracts is...


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