Now, this is a game with a lot of potential. I don't know about the rest of you, but the idea of playing as a hitman got me pretty excited. I'm a big fan of using stealth and being able to approach situations from a number of different angles. Hitman does a commendable effort at using this theme in a wide variety of missions and locals. Although more often than not the missions involve killing somebody important, each mission has different gameplay mechanics depending on the locale.
Graphically, the Hitman engine is impressive. I wasn't expecting too much, considering it doesn't use a "big name" engine, but I was pleasantly surprised. The visuals are lush and each mission locale is full of detail. The character animation is pretty impressive, complete with facial animation and heads that follow your movement.
Performance-wise, the engine ran quite smoothly on my system, (TBird 800mHz, GeForce) but I've heard that on lower end systems a lot of the detail/resolution has to be sacrificed for a decent framerate. Even on my machine, in the middle of certain gun battles, the framerate dropped noticeably.
There are also clipping problems, most noticeable with dead bodies but also you will see enemy guns poking through closed doors and other small visual defects such as that. The clipping range is also quite short, probably due to the high system requirements of the game. Especially in the outdoor jungle levels it can get quite annoying as you'll be running forward with no enemy in sight and all of a sudden they will pop into view and start firing at you. An option to increase the clipping range, for those of us on high-end systems, would have been nice.
The audio is nothing special, the gun effects are realistic and the various sounds of pain and death are adequate. The voice acting, especially after playing Alice, leaves much to be desired though. The main character especially sounds entirely unconvincing and stiff. The music suits each level quite well and enhances the game experience.
I enjoyed playing this game but a lot of times I became very frustrated. The game loses BIG points over the lack of mid-mission save game feature. It's unacceptable to not provide the ability to save your game, especially since some of the missions last up to 30 or 40 minutes.
The frustration only gets worse when you take into account the iffy AI. It is not necessarily bad, but it is virtually impossible to predict. Sometimes the enemies are completely stupid and other times they are eagle-eyed. For example, one time I strangled somebody about 10 feet away from his friend. He let out a yell "Alert! Alert!" before he died and nobody investigated. On the other hand, on a particular mission you have to meet with the police chief. I met him, then went to the bathroom (and picked up my hidden weapons), holstered everything, and came out of the bathroom. Immediately the chief exclaimed, "something's strange about you" and started firing. There was no way to predict his reaction to holstered weapons, and I had to restart the entire mission over.
While the game doesn't support in-game saving you are allowed to continue twice after you die in the mission. However, this just places you back into the world, often right by the gunfight that killed you the previous time. Generally continuing isn't very useful unless you've already given up on disguises and are ready to shoot every person you come across.
I also don't like the lack of jumping/ducking ability. The feeling of being "stuck" on the ground is unpleasant and limits your gameplay options. I understand it was most likely done to limit the actions of the player so the game designers would have an easier time, but I feel it's sort of a cop-out. There are also certain problems with movement - it's often very hard to tell what can be climbed up or walked over and what can't. As an example, in the jungle mission, there's a rock ledge above your head and what appears to be un-climbable vertical, but you can run up it sideways. Other times you'll be running forward and all of a sudden stop for what appears to be no reason - only to look down and see a tiny little root or bump that you can't get over. It's inconsistent and especially in the middle of a gun battle it can become a big problem.
The camera is alright in this game, although it still suffers from the typical 3rd person camera problems. Control is a bit of a problem. There are two modes, which allow you either to control your character's movement by the mouse or the aiming reticule. I prefer the former, and in this mode when you lean the mouse starts to control where you aim rather than your movement. One of the biggest problems I had with control was the inability to customize what the mouse buttons do. I used to use Mouse2 to run forward but you don't have the ability to bind Mouse2 to anything, it's always used to select items.
Other than those flaws, the game is a lot of fun. The best gameplay element is the ability to steal the clothes off your victims. This allows you to get into previously inaccessible areas, or get close to other enemies. You can be discovered if you hang around too long and let people see your face, and you can also be discovered if you're carrying a weapon that that "type" of enemy doesn't normally carry.
Killing is best accomplished silently, and that means either strangling wire, a knife, or a silenced gun. It is also very important to drag victims out of sight so they won't be discovered. Dragging the bodies is a neat idea, and the physics of the limp bodies is amazing to watch the first few times, but it can get frustrating. First of all the dragging is very slow, second of all it's hard to see where you're dragging the body too, and thirdly you will often just randomly stop dragging the body and you have to pick it up again. It's also hard to drag it into a specific place (like down a sewer grate). Deus Ex's "fireman's carry" is a much more elegant system overall.
There are plenty of different guns to use, you select the weapons you want to use before the mission starts. The difference in the guns is explained in the training mission, and you can get basic descriptions of the guns in the weapon selection menu, but it would be nice to have a way to quantify between a MP5 and an AK103 for those of us who aren't gun nuts. Just a word of advice, the AK103 is pretty powerful and the enemies often use it so ammo can be found easily. The UZI on the other hand can be hidden under your outfit.
There is no multiplay which makes sense - stealth oriented games aren't exactly suited for online gaming. Still, it would be really cool if a game like this came with a co-operative mode so you could play as a team of hitmen through the single player game.
Overall, I enjoyed this game. There are certain frustrating elements but they made me more determined to beat the level rather than deterring me from playing. With a patch this game could be great; currently the game is good but only if you're prepared to deal with the frustrating elements. It is also quite a short game, so don't expect to be playing this game for the next month or so unless you're pretty bad ;)
[ 37/50 ] Gameplay
[ 09/10 ] Graphics
[ 07/10 ] Sound
[ 07/10 ] Storyline
[ 08/10 ] Fun Factor
[ 08/10 ] Replay Value
See the Game Over Online Rating System