The driver glances in your direction, and then turns his back. You hear the sound of his trousers’ fly unzipping, followed by the distinctive noise of this man relieving himself into the grate in the alley. Nonplussed you creep up behind him, and with all the courteousness of a Venus Fly Trap with a bug on its’ tendrils, you wrap a garrote around his neck and relieve him of his life.
Ok, so now you’ve strangled a man who was going to the bathroom in an alley. What do you do for an encore? Drag him down into the sewer grate and remove his clothing. You’ll need it for your disguise to get close enough to the target to plant a bomb on his car.
Hitman Codename 47 is about death. Io-Interactive and Eidos Interactive have released a program that, while full of flaws and in need of patches, combines planning, action and a lot of blood into a world of intrigue and certain death.
The hit man, who is the central character in this role-playing shooter program, works for a shady agency. The targets are bad people, so there isn’t any compunction about sending them off to judgment. There are a total of four scenarios, each loaded with missions that will help you achieve your final scenario objective.
For example, in the first scenario, you are sent to Hong Kong to dispatch the leader of the Red Dragon Triad, Lee Hong. Because he is so well protected, you have to find a way to remove his bodyguards. How? Simple, you instigate a war between the two largest triads and then take out Hong when the war is raging. There are 12 missions inside that first scenario. From Hong Kong you will travel to Columbia, then to Budapest and The Netherlands.
Give Io-Interactive a lot of credit for the size of each scenario's game board. This program falls right in line with other city-dwelling Eidos games, such as Omikron, Urban Chaos and Deus Ex. There are a lot of streets, buildings, pedestrians, police officers and bad guys. Graphically Hitman may not be as crisp as those other games; the polygonal figures have hard lines and lack a three-dimensional feel. There are some nice graphical effects. The hit man prefers a black suit and a red tie – the latter flaps around nicely when he makes abrupt turns. There are a few problems with the clipping of the characters. At times they lean over and disappear into solid walls.
You begin the game by working your way through the tutorial. This will familiarize you with the movement keys – more about the controls in a moment – and some of the weapons you will be using. After firing various weapons, you are faced with your first challenge – escaping from the underground training facility. One of your last stops was a rifle range. Hmmm, forgot to put back that sniper rifle and scope. A short ride on an elevator later and you are close to freedom. Around the corner is a blue-uniformed guard, or orderly, with a Taser. You have to take him out. Might as well try out that sniper rifle.
The nice thing about the sniper rifle is that when engaged, you can’t move, but the movement keys allow you to zoom in closer with the telescoping site. The orderly appears for a fraction of a second, you squeeze the trigger, blood spurts from the hole in the back of his skull and he plunges forward to lie in an expanding pool of blood. Here’s where you first learn that clothes make the man, or at least aid in the cause. You strip him of his uniform and use that as a passport to the next locked gate. Amazingly, even though that departed orderly was laying in a massive and expanding pool of blood, his uniform is spotless. Might as well garrote the guard at the next gate, just for practice. And then, as you escape, the voice that has been guiding you, chuckles in what could only be described as evilly.
Now to the controls … Hitman Codename 47 features a combination of mouse and keyboard controls. The number pad on your keyboard, and the page up and page down controls work well with the mouse, but do take some getting used to. There were several instances during game play when selecting the right weapon didn’t happen very quickly. It was a matter of right click to get the weapons store up, page up or page down to get to the weapon, then left click to implement it. It may sound easy, but when you are trying to strangle a man urinating in an alley, and who will turn around and start shooting at you with a gun the minute you arm yourself, it can cause some confusion.
The options package for this program is simple, but complete. You can play in 16- or 32-bit resolution, and can adjust the usual assortment of graphic and audio elements. There are also three difficulty settings to challenge players of different skill levels. The sound is solid and supports the tone of the game well.
Hitman Codename 47 (the code name has something to do with the bar code tattoo on the back of his shaven head) does not spare the blood. There are situations in this game that are not appropriate for younger children – (hence the Mature rating for animated violence, animated blood and strong sexual content. But the game does have elements which solid programs need – it provides plenty of action and wraps the violence around planning and cerebral exercises. Each mission is on a timer, and you will in all likelihood have several goes at a mission before you figure out how to accomplish the task at hand.