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hitmanlogo.jpg (3586 bytes)

by Eidos

SCREEN_010-01.jpg (4959 bytes)It’s been a long day.  You spent all morning readying your supplies, hitting the black market for some new imported firepower, closing out 3 contracts, and making a tidy profit for your trouble.   It’s certainly an abnormal existence, but it does pay the bills.  What could this game be?  Well, it’s Hitman of course!  This upcoming 3rd person shooter--set for a late fall release--puts you in the shoes of a “hired gun” who must navigate unfriendly streets to get the hits you're paid for.  Using state of the art weapons, it’s just you and them.  And someone is not going to make it home for dinner/
It’s hard to say how Hitman will be received by the gaming public.  Some may think the  premise is VERY cool, though others will call it a sick fantasy.  But I'd wager that many action movie fans have fantasized at some point about what it would be like to be a hitman.  The final release has a lot of potential, but after spending quite a bit of time with the demo that’s available, I have to say that the developer, IO Interactive, still has a long way to go before it gets there.

SCREEN_004-01.jpg (7490 bytes)Hitman is a visually stunning game.  The cityscape and character models are very detailed.  Many small touches have been included  to keep the realism as high as possible.   For instance, you have the ability to strip bodies of their weapons and clothes, and no, they're not naked (but they are in their underwear). After you don their clothes you can mingle with the enemy without drawing unwanted attention to yourself.  As in Deus Ex, you can also drag dead bodies out of sight so you won’t alarm the remaining bad guys with a pile of their comrades at their door.  Remember, an unsuspecting   target is much easier to hit then one that knows you're out there.

The AI is adequate, but still weak in a few areas and could stand to be tweaked a bit.  As in the 1.03 version of Soldier of Fortune, if you lean around corners and take someone out, the other enemies will go to their fallen comrade, and not look for you.  This makes them incredibly easy targets, as you remain hidden around the corner, blasting them at your leisure.

SCREEN_009-01.jpg (5807 bytes)The weakest area of the game has to be the off-the-wall control settings.  Not that they are completely beyond hope, but they are quite a leap from what shooter fans are used to.  The biggest difference is that you can’t mouse-look in game.  You do use the mouse to look around, but only in your field of vision.  You can’t use the mouse to actually turn your character around.  So you have to use forward, backward, strafe left, strafe right, AND turn left, turn right keys set up.   Once you get used to the controls, they are workable.  But being able to use the mouse to look and turn would make the game much more comfortable to play.

SCREEN_012-01.jpg (5869 bytes)The realism in the game is quite impressive.  If a weapon is too big to fit in your pocket then you will have to lug it around out in the open, which isn’t the best way to sneak around town.  For instance, if you are walking down the street with a shotgun people will definitely notice. While this can be frustrating, it does get you thinking more about your mission prep and also encourages you to be creative.

Because the Hitman demo is quite short it does leave a lot up in the air about the game.  The storyline remains a mystery in many respects, but the demo does provide an exciting peek at a game that could be a huge success.

 --Ben Moore