There are only a handful of video game characters that are even half as distinctive as Agent 47. The big bad baldy assassin has been expertly eliminating targets for years. Thanks to his success he even got a couple of films of his own, but sadly they weren’t up to much so we won’t talk about them. Instead, we’re going to have a look back at the fourth game in the series, the excellent Hitman: Blood Money.
By this point Agent 47 had earned himself quite the reputation, and as a result he was targeted by a shady organisation – The Franchise. They had forced the closure of the International Contract Agency (ICA), who employed 47, after killing several of its agents. Along with his handler Diana Burnwood, it was up to the assassin to save himself and the organisation he worked for by playing a lengthy game of cat and mouse.
Hitman: Blood Money worked in a similar way to the previous games, however it marked a real step change for the series. Agent 47 had access to new upgradable weapons and equipment (as well as his iconic Silverballers), could use human shields to protect himself and could hide bodies in a similar fashion to Sam Fisher in the Splinter Cell series. He could also disguise himself using various costumes, such as a security guard or janitor’s outfit, to help seamlessly blend into his environment and stalk his target. Not only this, but 47 was more enterprising than ever when it came to fashioning blunt instruments into lethal weapons. He’s never without a party trick, that one.
However, what impressed me the most about Hitman: Blood Money was the expertly crafted series of missions. Each target could be eliminated in a number of ways, ranging from an unfortunate incident to the more direct “crash, bang, wallop” approach. Arranging accidents for clean kills was more challenging but much more rewarding. For example, tampering with a chandelier to ensure it fell on your target, killing them instantly, was extremely satisfying.
To stop you simply walking in and shooting up the place, Hitman: Blood Money introduced a notoriety system. This essentially meant that if you were messy in your methods, you would be more easily recognised by NPCs, and your targets would be much more difficult to take out. If you executed the perfect kill (i.e. made it look like an accident) you would slip away unnoticed and also earn a bigger payment for the hit. You could then spend the cash on upgrades or on bribes to lower your notoriety if needed.
I remember being so impressed by the sheer variety of settings in Hitman: Blood Money in which you needed to carry out your hits. Whether you found yourself in an abandoned theme park, or the White House itself, the game felt like a globetrotting blockbuster from start to finish. My personal highlight was “Curtains Down”, the mission which was set during a busy opera in Paris. You had two targets to eliminate but little to no room for manoeuvre, having to carefully plan your every move. Fifteen years on, it remains a gaming experience that has been rarely rivalled in terms of how close it brought you to the sensation of being in a Hollywood film.
Hitman: Blood Money’s excellent script only added to this feeling. The ending [SPOILER ALERT] saw Agent 47 rise up from his coffin at his own funeral if you pressed the controls in such a way to increase the speed of his heartbeat. You could then professionally murder all of the attendees, therefore eliminating The Franchise and keeping your undercover identity intact. It’s a devilishly brilliant way to end the game, and quite possibly my favourite final act of all time.
Hitman: Blood Money is a truly fantastic game, and in my humble opinion the best of the original series. It has been re-released several times, most recently alongside Hitman: Absolution as part of the Hitman HD Enhanced Collection from back in 2019.
We have recently seen the culmination of the Hitman – World of Assassination trilogy, a hugely successful evolution of the original series. If you’re looking for more Agent 47 in your life and have yet to look back to the games that started it all, you’ll find no finer way to do it than booting up Hitman: Blood Money.
Do you agree? Let us know all your thoughts by dropping in to the comments. And if you haven’t yet grabbed Hitman: Blood Money, get over to the Xbox Store.