The Chicago Syndicate: Roy DeMeo
Showing posts with label Roy DeMeo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Roy DeMeo. Show all posts

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hitman: Blood Money - Reviewed

Friends of ours: Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio, Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, Richard "The Ice Man" Kuklinski, Gambino Crime Family, Roy DeMeo

How often do you get the chance to sneak up on a balloon-clutching clown, grab him, kill him, take his outfit and put it on, then dump him in his own magic trick trunk and saunter off pretending to be him? Okay, maybe this says a little something about my own personal mental fiefdom, but when I found I had the opportunity to do just this - and so very much more - in Eidos amazing Hitman: Blood Money, by Jove I was as pleased as punch!

Now, where to start with this thoroughly engaging and dare I say awesome game�

I'm a fan of the genre to begin with. Having played through Rockstar's frightening stalk n' slash epic, Manhunt and the Thief and Splinter Cell series' I have developed a genuine passion for such stealth-orientated gameplay. There is something enormously satisfying about thinking and planning your every move, calculating and (hopefully) shrewdly putting into practice your own mapped out directives and above all doing your 'job' as a professional assassin.

This game is what it is. If you are familiar with the previous titles in the Hitman saga you will know that it comprises of a number of missions - all to 'hit' various designated bad guys. There is a storyline, but it's your murderous objectives that hallmark this classic. Blood Money is, of course, more of the same, but with a number of important improvements which I'm sure you'll be delighted to know includes new kill techniques.

So how does this game look and feel?

I class myself as a visual person and therefore if a game's graphics are below par this seriously dilutes the overall experience for me. It's very important that I be able to absorb every detail, down to minutiae. Fortunately Hitman: Blood Money's achievements in this area are nothing short of breathtaking and I struggled to contain my excitement from the very outset, quickly discovering that I could not tear myself away from a particular level until I had completed it so that the next would be revealed. Stunning, panoramic locations made this a journey I could not resist embarking on. Whether it's brightly little jungles or dingy warehouses, the eye for detail is sharp and quite incredible. I knew as soon as I got my first glimpse of the game that it was going to be a thing of beauty.

Right from the word go, the player - as silent protagonist Agent 47 - shows up at a deserted fairground, and is hauled directly along for the hugely atmospheric ride. Being a man who understands the nature of hardcore murder and having been fortunate enough to have books published in the true crime world, I'll take just a moment to discuss the psychopathologies inherent within the game's characters before getting back to the plot.

Though he has dispatched many victims in his time, cue-ball-headed, suited-and-booted Agent 47 is not a serial killer. He does not kill for pleasure, and he does not rape, torture or eat other human beings, which the charming sorts I normally deal with are more inclined to. 47 is an assassin, the best of his breed as a matter of fact, the type of 'guy' (he's not strictly human but I won't give away too much of the story) that undertakes his various assignments with a required cool detachment and abject professionalism. For our ice cold ice man, the soup of the day here is organised crime rather than the dark realm of serial predators. Still, vicious, evil and above all powerful figures wind up on his hit list. Surely the world will be a better place with them removed and there is only one master-assassin that fits the employment description, a hitman competent enough to take out this dangerous kind of trash. And in Blood Money, there is certainly a lot of it.

Fearsome organised criminals are marked for death at the hands of Agent 47 and whereas most of them display signs of 'enjoying' their murderous exploits, our 47 is motivated by another factor, namely - money. As a bonus he gets to dispense his own brand of justice on some very nasty individuals indeed.

Celebrated real-life counterparts; mob hitmen, such as the Chicago Outfit's Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio and Murder Incorporated's Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, took a certain amount of pleasure in their contracts. Richard "The Ice Man" Kuklinski - recently deceased in prison - and his contemporary, the legendary Gambino Crime Family executioner, Roy DeMeo, who are thought to be responsible for some 400 murders between them, lack distinctly the cool dignity of Agent 47. More than a match in sheer ferocity and death toll as these and others of their ilk are, this is not the purpose of Hitman: Blood Money. You are not an organised crime-connected, bloodthirsty killer, who actually enjoys his assignments, but rather a reluctant created entity. One who does this because it is what he knows.

Back to the game, the environments as I say are totally mesmerizing. From garish techno nightclubs straight out of Hell - and Heaven - and winter playgrounds oozing with busty babes, steaming outdoor pools, and stone killers in Santa Claus hats, to a trip to the witness protection haven of suburban U S of A and a New Orleans Mardi Gras to remember, the slick presentation of each scenario will knock you sideways.

The varied ways of dispatching victims is a lot of fun too. Whether it's a simple garrotting, knifing or more creative method of execution, such as a patiently orchestrated poisoning or the careful engineering of a fatal 'accident', the result is always the same. Mission accomplished. Particularly rewarding is the discovery of makeshift weaponry throughout your quests, which can be used to take those who get in your way down - hard. Agent 47 will always find a way to complete his homicidal objectives.

Luring and annihilating his route throughout the game, each of 47's missions involve slaying a 'Mr Big' target. There are a number of ways this can be achieved, from a Gung Ho blood fest of bullets and mayhem to the more subtle, stealthy approach. As this is a game that rewards you for methodical and restrained manoeuvring, being sneaky and quietly efficient are the ingredients to conquering Hitman: Blood Money.

One of my favourite touches are the often amusing newspaper reports that conclude each level, describing the various massacres you have been responsible for in getting at your latest target. These can range from the ghost-like strike of a highly effective phantom killer to the carnage-soaked frenzy of a human butcher. Depending on how you played it, the ultimate goal is in your skill and cunning at executing not only your task but your designated 'whacks', to use the parlance of the top mobsters that Agent 47 is so often sent after.

And the handling is spot on. Fluid controlling and smooth operation is vital in a game such as this, and here again Hitman: Blood Money delivers. It's easy to pick up after a half hour curve and having gotten used to it, you will find yourself most comfortable with the action of shooting, stabbing and stealthy 'up close and personal' moves on your (again, hopefully if you're playing it the way it is intended) unwitting prey.

It's such an experience that when you eventually finish the game you are left wanting much more. A tight, story-driven plot with some truly great characters and awesome villains to take down, make this an instant must for those fans of the genre. Hitman gets in your blood, immerses you in the subterranean world of murder-for-hire and actually charges you up while playing. Who after all would not wish to kill as many evil people as their skills merit and read their own sensational headline at the end of each gore-splattered foray.

Eidos have done it again and I devoutly hope that there are more Hitman offerings in the pipeline. I will never grow tired of assuming the role of Agent 47, the cool, collected killing machine, sent to faraway destinations to carry out the most exhilarating contracts.

I absolutely loved this game. Could you tell?

Thanks to Steve Morris

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